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.

An English Highland lady

January 20th, 2007

IT'S BEEN a week out and about with the dogs. We meet a dipper down by the side of the burn. He flies ahead of us as far as the wooden plank which serves as a bridge then, deciding enough is enough, flies back to where he started. I look back and see the white breast, like an evening shirt, dipping up and down in farewell as he (or maybe it's she) bobs and curtseys to the world at large. Some day that plank will give way and someone will get a dooking.

One afternoon a heron lumbered off the water. They look awkward kind of birds on the ground with the long neck and skinny legs, but they have a measured grace once they are airborne. Which brought to mind the splendid Jacobite Trilogy by DK Broster which I've read again in recent months.  The Gleam in the North',  The Dark Mile' and  Flight of the Heron' are set against the events, real and imaginary, of the 1745 Jacobite Rising.

The books have everything – adventure, realism, drama, love, loyalty and honour. There's the  second sight' and Highland prophecies – you need to be the seventh son of a seventh son to truly have the second sight. A heron is shot and killed early on in  Flight of the Heron', which casts a fateful shadow of ill-fortune throughout the story.

It's easy to assume that these rattling good stories, so firmly rooted in Scotland, must have been written by a Scot. But Dorothy K Broster was a very English lady, and wrote her novels after an extended holiday in Scotland. For me she is the equal of our home-bred authors such as RL Stevenson, and her books are very well worth the read.

Back home again, we – the dogs and I that is – disturbed a woodcock several mornings on the early walk. This is a wading bird of the seashore which has adapted to woodlands. Flushed from its hiding place in the undergrowth it dodged rapidly amongst the trees until it found cover again in rhododendrons. It obviously got fed up with the disruption to its life and moved on, because we haven't seen it since.

Two woodpeckers regularly visit the peanut feeder. They are aggressive birds and chase off the smaller song birds already feeding. But they also see each other off so that only one feeds at a time. I watch one pursuing the other round a nearby beech tree until the aggressor is satisfied that he'll have time to tuck into a decent meal before he, in turn, is chased off.

Last walk at night is to the accompaniment of some vocal tawny owls, no doubt warning each other about the diminutive, but ferocious, white devil trotting up the road at my side. Dynamite, as they say, comes in wee parcels!

Written on Saturday, January 20th, 2007 at 6:42 pm for Weekly.