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.

Prisoner in a jelly factory!

September 23rd, 2006

HELP! I'M trapped in a jelly making factory.

I should have seen it coming when the Doyenne collected the windfall apples from the garden for her rowan and apple jelly, which is the perfect accompaniment to roast venison and pheasant. But I let my attention wander.

After I'd picked the four and a half pounds of brambles I should have gathered up my scattered wits as well. And when the bags of sugar appeared it was my last warning.

“Double, double toil and trouble”; I can understand how Macbeth – not our  demented ball of string', but the king from Shakespeare's Scottish play – felt, on his midnight fling with the three witches.

“Cauldron bubble” – I know all about that too. Dark, steaming brews foaming and writhing in the jelly pan. My worst fears will be confirmed if the Doyenne casually asks for “tongue of dog”, to add that final extra zing. The dogs and I will be heading for the hills!

Grandchildren Cecily and Fergus call brambles  purple treasure', which seems a thoroughly apt name. I picked the berries just in time, for they were starting to spoil with the rain of the previous few days. It has been a good year for them, and the jelly set perfectly when it was poured into the jars. The remainder of the fruit was frozen, to be used at Christmas in bramble and apple pies.

My travels take me to some interesting places. I got the chance to see round a remarkably well preserved early Victorian stable block. It's never been put to another use, which has been the saving of it.

The four loose stalls are lined throughout, ceiling and all, in pine. No one knows how long ago the last horse was led out, but the comfortable smell of horses is ingrained in the wood. Even in the dark you would know exactly where you were. I can imagine the last stable boy coming back and finding the stables just as he left them.

Next door is the tack room with wooden pegs, set high on the wall, for the harness, and seats for the saddles. Cast iron heating pipes run into the tack room, but they don't go as far as the stables – presumably the horses were expected to generate their own warmth.

The heating came from what was obviously the garage because it has an inspection pit in the floor, covered over with thick planks. In the early motoring days chauffeurs were expected to be mechanics as well, and the inspection pit had the same purpose as modern hydraulic ramps.

Sadly, for the horse, the invention of the motor car marked the beginning of its end as the accepted method of travel. The car became “The real way to travel! The only way to travel!” Ask Mr Toad in  The Wind in the Willows'.

Written on Saturday, September 23rd, 2006 at 6:01 am for Weekly.