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.

A life on the ocean wave

July 29th, 2006

A LIFE on the ocean wave has all the appeal of a tropical island when the sea is flat calm and it's so hot you don't need to wear even a jumper. That's what Montrose Bay was like when I went out with Captain John West, Senior Pilot at Montrose Port Authority. I joined him as he piloted a ship into port, and I looked forward to seeing Montrose from a different perspective.

We went out on the pilot boat  Southesk', crewed by John Kenny and John Coupar, to meet the  Lys Chris' which was standing off Scurdie Ness lighthouse. I knew why I had been given a life jacket when I watched Captain John spring like a gazelle from the pilot boat onto the  Lys Chris'. I had to follow him!

In reality,  Lys Chris' was so low in the water with her full cargo of raw wood pulp, that her main deck was level with Southesk's deck. Cox'n John Kenny brought the pilot boat alongside the cargo ship so skilfully that it was a matter of stepping from boat to ship as the two sailed on side by side.

Once on the bridge John took command and we gently made our way into the river mouth, which is currently being dredged for sand which is transported to Aberdeen beach. I don't know what they've done with their own, but it's good to know that Montrose is enhancing the  granite city'.

Standing high up in the wheelhouse as we sailed up the river I could see Ferryden and Montrose as I had never seen them before. I took the chance to take plenty of photographs.

I hoped I might see the dolphins which regularly appear in the bay, but not this trip. And there was no sign of the seals which lie on the rocks at the lighthouse waiting to feast on the salmon making their way into the River South Esk. However there are lots of terns which have been nesting inside the Glaxo factory perimeter fence, and on the roofs of the harbour buildings.

The pilot boat is also used as a tug – well, it's more of a shover, really – to help with berthing. As John manoeuvred us alongside the berth he asked John Kenny to “give us a good shove”. It didn't seem a terribly nautical instruction. I couldn't imagine Nelson running up a similar message just after posting his famous  England expects €¦' signal. But everything worked perfectly, and we tied up on the north quay, at Berth 7, with scarcely a bump.

Now, some news about Inka. He's the father of four pups – three dogs and one bitch, three black and one yellow. Their eyes haven't opened yet, and as there is so much milk for them they look like four little blind fat bundles. I'll report on progress.