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.

Frozen in time

January 26th, 2008

FOOTPRINTS IN the frosty grass coming towards the house and then going away again might have been a warning that someone had been prowling round in the middle of the night. But it had only been me taking the dogs out last thing, and then coming back.

The nights this past week have been magical. The clouds cleared during the evening and the moon shone out of a star spangled sky, bouncing the moonlight off the rimey grass. I didn't need the torch – Macbeth showed up like a wee white pudding in the soft light and even black Inka was easy to keep an eye on. Anyway at night-time they don't like the idea of losing touch and always stay in close about.

Full moon was on Tuesday, and it was the first of the year. It's like being in another world, with just the dogs and myself for company. There's time to think about the day that's past and what I'm going to do tomorrow.

By contrast, Monday morning brought one of the most stunning sun rises I've seen for weeks. There was a half moon arc of reds and pinks across the whole sky. I called to the Doyenne and we stood outside together just drinking in the beauty of it. But it's over so quickly – we went indoors and when I came out again five minutes later it had all but disappeared.

I got a long letter from a lady who grew up on the farm at Milldens between Friockheim and Forfar. She's in her eighties now and been away from Angus for over fifty years but she told me about life in the country when she was a youngster.

She and her brother cycled to Guthrie school. It never closed, even in the depths of snow – and they walked if it was too deep to bike. A lady next door made soup during the winter months and the children could buy a bowl of piping hot soup for their lunch for a ha'penny.

Without a car she biked and walked all over the county, even as far as Blairgowrie once. Each Sunday her grandfather walked from Forfar to Milldens and the two of them walked on to Dunnichen Church for the service. She and a friend cycled to Oathlaw for nights out country dancing, and the men used to swing them off their feet!

Her brother guddled trout in the burns (i.e. caught them by hand) and they had them for tea fried in oatmeal. She helped on the farm, milking the cows and making butter, and she had her own dog too.

Six pages of memories she sent me. She lived a busy life, with no time for mischief, and it's little wonder she says she enjoyed life on the farm and in the country so much.

Written on Saturday, January 26th, 2008 at 9:56 am for Weekly.