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.

Pie chart

May 5th, 2007

“FOUR AND twenty blackbirds baked in a pie” – driving through Edzell earlier in the week I nearly got the first two. Two blackies shot out of a garden on my side of the road, one in hot pursuit of the other. They streaked between me and the car in front and were in danger of meeting an untimely end splattered across the windscreen of an oncoming car. There was a tremendous exhibition of split second aerobatics and they scraped their way out of terminal danger.I'd hardly gone a couple of miles down the road when I saw two more beside the gates of Keithock House, knocking seven bells out of each other and quite oblivious to traffic speeding by scarcely a foot from them. It's not too late for blackbirds to be nesting so perhaps particularly agreeable hen birds were the cause of all the controversy.

It's a time of year when birds and animals can temporarily lose all sense of personal danger as Nature's urges spill over and take control. Years ago driving home in the five o'clock rush in Minto Street, one of Edinburgh's busiest roads, all the cars had to take evasive action round two stray dogs which were inelegantly united – and to blazes with the hooting and tooting of horns!

On the subject of puppies, Inka recently met his daughter and one of his sons. Maggot, the bitch, is a neat, small Labrador with a much more placid nature than her sometimes volatile sire, and she flourishes despite her unexpected name. By comparison, Brock is a bit of a bruiser and a lot more heavily built than both his parents. His owner wants to show him, so we'll be interested to know how he gets on in the show ring.

There's shepherd's pie, but it's not made from shepherds; and humble pie, but where can you get the humbles these days. The pie in the nursery rhyme “Sing a song of sixpence” was made with black birds but they weren't blackbirds. They would have been young rooks which, several centuries ago when the rhyme first appeared, were a seasonal feature of country folks' diet.

In Lewis Carroll's “Through the Looking Glass” the Queen told Alice she could have jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today. So the possibility of having jam today became  pie in the sky', or something hopelessly unattainable. At least Desperate Dan's cow pie in The Dandy comic really is made with cow – you can see the horns poking out from the top of the pastry.

High on the list of memorable pies I have eaten are the Doyenne's raised mutton pies. She doesn't make them now because she says it's so difficult to get real mutton. I think that's just an excuse because she used to complain what a scutter they were to produce.

Written on Saturday, May 5th, 2007 at 4:07 am for Weekly.