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.

More natural remedies

May 27th, 2006

I'M THANKFUL I did some homework before writing last week's piece. There was an almost immediate response on the phone, followed by a most interesting letter. It confirmed what I had already deduced, that for every story about Nature's remedies there's another one to cap it.

At the core of homoeopathic healing is the belief that there is a herbal remedy for almost every ill suffered by man. And not only mankind; the writer mentions some of the traditional remedies being used to cure racing pigeons.

The workaday aspirin was developed from an extract of willow trees, yet how many of us consider its natural credentials as we anticipate the relief that the pills provide? It all seems to boil down to a matter of personal belief, but you'd need a pretty robust personal belief for some of the treatments.

My correspondent recalled his grandmother's experience of ailing children, who weren't  making up', being given a spoonful of the clear serum found in a new-laid cow pat. You'd certainly want to hold your nose as you swallowed that one!

The loss of a family pet through death is usually a sad time, but when a pet just vanishes there is the uncertainty of not knowing whether it is alive or dead. So when a missing pet is found again there's double celebrations.

After seven months, daughter Cait's cat walked out of the house and disappeared without trace. It had been a  rescue' cat from the Cat Protection League and you'd think its domestic arrangements would have been vastly improved from when it had been a stray.

For five weeks the family tramped the countryside around the house hoping to find their pet in a barn or an outhouse. But it was a chance sighting of the animal walking down a street in Auchterarder that reunited cat and owners.

When he eventually allowed himself to be handled again, he was driven home in triumph, clinging to the top of the headrest of Cait's car seat. Drivers following behind must have been bemused by the sight of the driver in front who had a cat growing out of the top of her head.

It was Inka racing ahead that startled the meadow pipit out of its nest on the ground directly in front of me. The nest was built inside a small grass tussock, scarcely large enough to conceal it, and inside were four brown mottled eggs. I passed it two days later and stopped for a moment to see if the chicks had hatched, but the nest was empty.

My likely culprit was a magpie that I watched exploring the bushes at the foot of the garden. They rob other birds' nests of eggs and young, and these four wee eggs would have been a tasty snack while it hunted for a more substantial meal.

Written on Saturday, May 27th, 2006 at 8:20 pm for Weekly.