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 palette & God’s hymn sheet

November 11th, 2006

 THE GOLDEN evening brightens in the west' (as the hymnist wrote), sums up several glorious sunsets that the dogs and I enjoyed at the start of the week. I'm no artist, as my predecessor Colin Gibson was, and I never seem to have the camera with me to record the natural beauty that floods the skies.

How do you compare one sunset with the next? How would you paint a sunset – which is the moment you would want to capture for ever? Nature's canvas never stays still, the evening colours constantly blending and melding into one another. You don't see it happening; you just know it has – in the blink of an eye – as the day slips below the western horizon. Perhaps it's the transient moment that lingers longest in the memory.

Walks with the dogs, last thing, have been in bright moonlight, so there's been no need for a torch. Black Inka disappears into the gloom, but he doesn't like to lose contact for too long and soon comes back to reassure me, and himself, that he hasn't got lost.

Macbeth poddles on behind appearing like an ectoplasm, as my mother would have said, from hedge bottoms where tantalising scents have delayed him. Tawny owls, of which there are plenty, call all around us. The night time is nearly as busy as the day. Every once in a while a nervous pigeon clatters out of its roost and into the darkness, or a wary cock pheasant  klokks' a warning to its chums.

We've lit the sitting-room fire on several evenings, which gets Macbeth's vote. He's definitely a heat-seeking missile, and when he no longer has a sheltered corner to bake in the sun, he like nothing better than to creep as near the fire as possible without bursting into flames, and gently toast.

He has taken to grooming Inka if we come in wet through from walking. Inka settles down comfortably, thoroughly enjoying the whole process, and Macbeth licks him dry until, I suspect, he runs out of lick!

 But lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day', continues the hymnist in the next verse. Perhaps he was thinking of hillsides ablaze with the glory of the sun. Out with the dogs for the early walk I saw, through a break in the trees, one hillside ablaze.This was muirburn, which is the controlled burning of old heather carried out by gamekeepers to improve habitat and grazing for grouse and red deer. When the new growth appears it provides ideal feeding for the grouse whose diet consists mainly of shoots of ling heather.

With the glens of Angus on our doorstep, we don't have to wander far into  earth's wide bounds' (that hymnist again) to enjoy the sunrises and the sunsets.

We're well favoured, as my father would have said.