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.

Nature’s bounty

June 17th, 2006

THE DOYENNE and I feel we are still very much in touch when our friend's children ask if they can come and see us. Except of course they are no longer the children, because they bring their own offspring with them. It's a great compliment when youngsters enjoy visiting, joining the adults and adding to the day's pleasure.

Last Sunday was just such a day, and we were blessed with fabulous weather. So out came the barbecue for the first time this year, along with the shorts and the white leggies.

Everything had to be washed after lying in the garden shed all winter. Was there enough charcoal? Did we need lighting fluid? Well, actually we did and, rather than dashing off to buy some more, I had a cunning plan.

Some weeks back I wrote about making a  stoorer', which needed tinder-dry rotten wood for fuel. There was some wood left, and I crumbled it in amongst the charcoal with some paper spills. The wood began to smoulder before the charcoal and acted as ideal kindling for the fire.  A penny saved  €¦' and all that, but there's a practical reason for taking another walk in the countryside to find an old rotten tree.

Inka found his ideal companion. He could have spent every moment of Clarissa's visit chasing after sticks that she threw all around the garden and over the stream. Eventually he got over-excited and had to be banished to his bed, which got Macbeth's vote. By the evening he was absolutely knackered and we had no more nonsense from him.

A year ago I wrote about  lucy arnots', which are the edible tubers of pig or ground nuts. I promised myself that this year I'd look for some. Arthur Grewar, who knows where to find any of nature's free food, took me to the banks of the River South Esk where the plants grow in profusion. It involved more digging than I expected, but was worth the effort.

The knobbly  nuts' look like root ginger and lie up to four inches below the surface. I soaked them and scraped the skin off, and tried my first one. They taste like hazelnuts initially, but there is a spicy after-taste reminiscent of radish. We sliced some up to add zing to the barbecue salad.

Here's a favourite recipe for a  countryside cordial' to add some more zing to barbecues. To a bottle of cheap white wine add an equal amount of lemonade. Add four tablespoons of Cointreau, and plenty of ice and sliced cucumber and orange. Bruise a handful of mint leaves (spearmint if possible), between your palms to release the flavour, and stir in.

Very summery, but be warned, more alcoholic than you might think. And the cucumber and orange slices are delicious when the juice has all gone!

Written on Saturday, June 17th, 2006 at 8:43 pm for Weekly.