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.

Thunder and lightning

July 8th, 2006

BOTH DOGS slept blissfully through the cracks of thunder and flashes of lightning that awoke me at a thoroughly indecent hour.

When I was small my mother sat me down at the window during thunder storms to listen to the drum rolls and watch the flickering lights   As a result I've always rather enjoyed storms and not hesitated to go outdoors during them     But like the wind and sea, lightning is a force of nature, although few of us experience its full destructive power.

My father's schoolboy friend Willie Wyllie, whose family farmed Drumclune, just outside Forfar, was struck by lightning while sheltering from a storm beneath a tree   I never learned what happened to the tree, but Willie had a blue tinge to his complexion for the rest of his life.

Thunder storms have been a keynote of some of our most memorable family holidays.

Returning from camping on Benbecula, we stopped for a night at my best man's farm of Swordale, outside Evanton   We pitched the tent close to a large elm   In the dark hours thunder rent the air and forks of lightning stabbed the opposite side of the glen  

Despite the Doyenne's gloomiest predictions, the elm tree did not crash upon us, prematurely wiping out our  babies', but the tent let in and we were a sodden bunch by the morning!

Holidaying in a French country cottage our sleep was riven by wild claps of thunder and great sheets of lightning of an electric storm   The headboard on the bed was tinplate, painted and grained to look like wood   The Doyenne decided this would attract the lightning and she resolutely prepared to meet her fate.

Nothing I could say about the flashes having to bend to get through the small low window, and then turn left, would calm her, until she surprised herself by surviving the ordeal.

The powers of nature are no respecters of persons   The Doyenne and I were guests at the Garden Party at Holyrood on Wednesday, where it seemed half the county of Angus had gathered to join the celebrations for the Queen's eightieth birthday   As Her Majesty stepped out of the Palace the heavens opened, and rain descended in traditional  stair-rods' on a sea of expensive hats and even more costly outfits.

Not content with this, great claps of thunder boomed above us, and jagged forks of lightning clove the sky   It seemed as though the happy event might be a wash-out.

Safe beneath my umbrella (how wise of the Doyenne to suggest that I should take it) we joined in the general exasperation at the fickle weather   But not for long; for I suddenly understood nature's subtle intervention.

The thunderous peals of celestial applause were the accompaniment to a lightning display of festive pyrotechnics   Right on cue, nature had got it right.

Written on Saturday, July 8th, 2006 at 10:16 pm for Weekly.