Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Scottish country dancing

January 7th, 2006

SCOTTISH COUNTRY dancing was something I learned as a child, in the time-honoured way, by being thrown headlong into Eightsome Reels, Dashing White Sergeants and Strip the Willows.

It all started at a very tender age with dancing lessons in the Park Hotel in Montrose. When I went to prep school we all assembled one evening a week in the winter term for more lessons from Miss Jean Milligan, the doyenne of the Scottish Country Dance Society, to prepare us for the Christmas dances and parties during the school holidays.

When I brought my own Doyenne back to Angus she found the more complex reels a whirling confusion for a girl brought up in Bradford. But she entered into the spirit of it all and it wasn't long before she was keeping up with the best of them.

After Christmas we and our grandchildren were invited to a reel party by a traditionally minded grandmother who thought it was time the next generation were introduced to country dancing. I wondered whether, in these days of non-contact dancing, this was going to be  cool' with the young ones.

I needn't have worried. Country dancing is live and healthy, and from the response we got from the young dancers, has an assured future. Which is great, because I like the idea of inviting my granddaughters to join me and lead off for a set of the Duke of Perth or Reel of the 51st Division.

Inka has managed to puncture his shoulder and the wound needed five stitches. To prevent him nibbling at them and reopening the wound he has had to wear a protective collar which looks like an upside-down lampshade round his head, and has been a major frustration for all of us.

For the dog himself mainly, for he has had a hard time understanding that if he drops his head down too far the collar catches on the ground and trips him up. And it catches on hedges and in wire fences, and scoops up water when he wades through the burn. Macbeth has kept clear of him since Inka  playfully' rammed him with the collar's sharp edges, which was obviously quite painful for his small friend.

The Doyenne and I have been woken at odd hours of the night with the noise of Inka blundering about and crashing into chair legs and other bits of furniture.

There was a real pea-souper of a fog round here at the end of last week. While the dogs and I were out for the early walk the sound of a solitary pinkfoot goose came out of the mirk. The bird was invisible and quite disorientated. It was flying blind and calling plaintively to make contact with even just one other of its own kind.

I hope its persistence eventually paid off.

Written on Saturday, January 7th, 2006 at 9:48 am for Weekly.