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.

Didn’t the dogs do well …

October 20th, 2007

WHAT A difference a year makes   This time last year I was writing about the bumper year for chestnuts, and the terrific eruptions of fungi and mushrooms – some of which I hadn't remembered ever seeing before. More...  The The weather patterns this year have been almost the reverse of a year ago   Last summer was dry and hot and when autumn came we had bucketing rain   There were downpours of rain this summer and right now we are enjoying a few days of unseasonably hot sunshine – still sometimes called an Indian summer.
  I used to wonder if the term had something to do with  cowboys and indians' – I know it's not PC to say that, but you can't cancel your upbringing overnight!   In fact there appears to be some basis for the idea  

Some say that this was the time of year when the Native American Indians harvested their crops   Another suggestion, from the nineteenth century, was that the onset of winter weather put a seasonal stop to the warring between the European American settlers and the indigenous Native Americans   If the fighting season could be extended because of good weather it was called an Indian summer.

I wonder if the explanation that it comes from Asian India and the days of the British Raj isn't more straightforward   When British sailing clippers plied the oceans loaded with eastern promises from the Indian subcontinent they preferred to make the voyages at this time of year, called the Indian Summer because of the fair sailing weather which prevailed   The ships had  €œI.S € painted on their hulls indicating the safe cargo loading level for the seas and weather that would be encountered  

Maybe I've been overly critical of my dogs in the past   They went with me to the Retreat Museum in Glen Esk where I was signing copies of the new  Man with two dogs' book   So many people came up to talk to them and tickle them, and tell me how well behaved they were   It's gratifying to know that we can take them places and meet people and they won't get over-excited and bark or commit even worse breaches of social etiquette.

The Museum opens for weekends only in November so the Glen is still a great place for a weekend family outing in the countryside and a proper high tea in the restaurant after the walk   As I was signing books I heard the food mixer start up next door because more scones were needed in a hurry   Most things on the menu are home made – a taste of bygone days.

All I really was wanting to say before I got diverted was that the horse chestnuts have ripened early this year, but it seems a rather half-hearted crop compared with last year, and the nuts are awfy small for playing conkers  


The “Man with two dogs” book has gone to a second print.

Available direct from the publishers

Written on Saturday, October 20th, 2007 at 8:09 am for Weekly.