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.

Silent night & daytime dialogue

December 29th, 2007

LAST SATURDAY night was a night of such purity and clarity that if I hadn't believed in a God and thought I'd like to, there was no better moment I could think of to make a start.

The dogs and I were out for their last run before bed. A full moon and distant stars shone from the infinite oblivion of the midnight sky, bouncing off the grass, the branches, the walls and the roof slates which were covered in a hard white frost, almost as if there had been a fall of snow.

I stood in the bellmouth of a field gate enveloped by the white sound of nothing, for there was no wind to stir even the topmost branches of the leafless trees. The dogs had been sitting patiently long enough. They started scratting around in the dead leaves and that broke the spell.

You can't recreate silent beauty like that. It's difficult to catch moments of such complete peace when people and traffic and the whole business of living are constantly on the move. The Doyenne joined me when we got back and we stood in the garden looking in at our Christmas tree covered in its lights and shining out from the darkened drawing room. It felt like the spirit of Christmas.

Three weeks ago I was asked by the congregation of Dundee West Church to join them at their morning service and take part in a conversation with their minister, Rev. Andrew Greaves. He had chosen the themes of preservation and conservation of what is good about Christmas, and related them to the landscape we live in.

It was a great compliment to think that some of the things I've written about have struck enough of a chord to merit being talked about again. I've never thought of this column as having a spiritual resonance but if going into the countryside brings peace and comfort then it is one of the best reasons to protect it for our benefit and enjoyment.

I found myself having to justify myself to myself as well as to the congregation and tell them, publicly, about the personal things I care for. Regeneration of the countryside which man has harmed and destroyed is as important as conserving what is already good. We need to acknowledge what we have done to our world and decide what we are prepared to do to pass on a sustainable world to the generations who follow.

I'm not giving advance notice of anything when I end this piece with a prayer by St Thomas More – it's just the nicety of his language. I think he's saying that caring for each other is one of the ways we can achieve happiness, and that's pretty important in life – “Pray for me, as I will for thee, that we may merrily meet in Heaven.”

  

  

READ ON

  

Every good wish from the Doyenne and me for a happy and successful 2008.

I hope the the two dogs continue to entertain you, as I know they will me,  over the coming months