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.

Words & music

November 18th, 2006

LAST SATURDAY the Doyenne and I fairly supped up the culture. In the afternoon we were at House of Dun, run now by the National Trust for Scotland, to listen to a programme entitled Violet Jacob's Voices of Angus. Regular readers will know that Violet Jacob, one of the last of the family of the Erskines of Dun, is a great literary heroine of mine.

She came from a high-born background, but much of her work was written in the Angus vernacular, which she obviously was completely familiar with and spoke almost as a second language for someone with her upbringing. In one of the slim collections of her “Songs of Angus” are listed the Contents, all of which are written in local dialect, except for the last five poems which are identified as  In English'!

Her work was neglected for many years after her death, but she is gaining more and more recognition, and deservedly so. Events, like this one put on by Celtic Circle, help to bring her to a wider audience.

The high spot of the programme was “The Wild Geese”, set to music and sung by Jim Reid from Arbroath. The poet is in England, but her heart longs for her Angus homeland. It's the season for the wild geese, and I first heard Jim sing his song version at a concert in Montrose Library some years ago.

In the evening we went to Dundee's Caird Hall for a Fiddlers Rally which took the place of my usual Saturday  fix' of Robbie Shepherd and  Take the Floor'. Comedian Andy Cameron and Gaelic singer Anne Lorne Gillies helped fill the hall and we enjoyed a real toe-tapping programme. Andy Cameron was obviously a great hero of the lady in front of me – he only had to open his mouth and she was in stitches.

Included in the programme was a tune,  Lady Elizabeth's Air', composed by fiddle-playing supremo Sandy Ingram of Glamis. I first knew Sandy when I was a diffident young solicitor, appearing at Forfar Sheriff Court on behalf of ill-done-by clients, and Sandy was the scary Procurator Fiscal. It's amazing how the passage of years softens folk.

The fiddle programme was helping raise money for the local branch of the Order of St John which provides support and services to people who are ill, disabled, in distress or in danger. The current project is to provide a volunteer taxi service for outpatients who have regular hospital appointments for treatment such as chemotherapy.

The dogs are under the table and lying across my feet as I write this. They have internal body clocks that you can set your day to. Right now it is being made clear that it's time we went for the morning walk, and they'll fidget and nag me until I take them.