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.

Size doesn’t matter

December 15th, 2007

I'M FAR frae Montrose, but I get it by post, / The baccy whose flavour I relish the most. / I've tried a guid wheen in the last fifty years / Of others whose praise in th' papers appears, / But I wadna gi'e saxpence an ounce for the lot / When judged by that sold by “Tobacconists Scott.” – A.B.J.

To the Doyenne's despair I'm an inveterate hoarder and I came across this poem in what my father would have called “my repositories” – stuck away at the back of a drawer.

I picked it off the floor of D & W Scott, Tobacconists, 102 High Street, Montrose when that shop finally closed. It's one of two poems advertising Scott's tobacco products and is printed on what may have been a wrapper to parcel up “the fragrant weed” to send to distant Montrosians all over the world who insisted on smoking only their own special blend, “whose flavour they relished the most” (sic).

Scott's was the last of the High Street's truly old fashioned shops, selling a traditional product with old fashioned service and courtesy. The shop's dark interior looked as though it hadn't changed since the original Mr Scott set up in business, and the distinctive aroma that greeted you when you went in had been ingrained in the wooden fittings for decades.

I don't know who the poet A.B.J. was, but he obviously was a lifelong customer who could express his loyalty in words. Bill Scott was the last of the family to run the business, and was a specialist who took a lifetime's knowledge of his trade and products with him when he closed the door for the last time.

Everything about a woodcock is secretive. Its russet plumage blends perfectly with its woodland habitat where it keeps itself to itself and won't fly in the open unless it is disturbed. One rose at my feet with what sounded like a soft belch. I had to go back to the bird books to realise that this really was its call. It's so secretive I'm not aware of ever hearing it before.

I'm sometimes asked which of the two dogs is top dog in the family. For readers who may not know Macbeth is a West Highland White Terrier and Inka is a black Labrador. It would be wrong to assume that Inka rules the roost just because of his size and we got firm proof of this the other evening. We found Macbeth stretched out full length in Inka's basket, like little Lord Muck, while Inka obediently lay on the carpet beside him.

I've long said that Macbeth has as much brains as a docken, but obviously it's contagious. If Inka had any sense he would have tipped Macbeth out and sent him back to his own comfy bed under the hall table.





The book of “Man with two dogs – a breath of fresh from Scotland” has already gone all over the world   Still available for Christmas direct from the publishers

Written on Saturday, December 15th, 2007 at 12:14 pm for Weekly.