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.

Ceilidh nights & waterdrops

March 8th, 2008

SPRINGERS, OR early run spring salmon are in the Rivers North and South Esk, making their way to the headwaters of the river systems to spawn. As I walked with the dogs down the North Esk from the Rocks of Solitude towards the Gannochy Bridge I hoped I might see at least one, leaping out of the water in its exuberance at being back in its mother stream.

The gorge narrows at The Loups and white water was boiling through the constricted gap. When the river is in spate and the force of the water is too great for them to swim up the main flow, the salmon use the fish ladder cut out of the rock side. A couple of canoes lay beside the path and two figures standing on the rocks below turned out to be members of Edinburgh University Canoe Club who were enjoying a day's exciting water sport.

Safety is obviously paramount, as was evident from their red protective helmets and the buoyancy belts round their middles. These two were the support team for three colleagues who still had to negotiate the falls. One, a student nurse, had secured herself with a rope to an outcrop of rock. Her companion had a heaving line to throw if any of the other three overturned in the wild water and went under. If he was a bit too energetic when he threw the rope, and in danger of toppling into the water himself, the lassie was supposed to hang onto straps on his back and save him. I couldn't help thinking that a reversal of responsibility might have been fairer!

They'd had a great day – a couple had indeed flipped into the water, but their wet suits kept them insulated from the worst of the cold and they looked forward to coming back again for another dookin'!

Two dozen like-minded souls, which included the Doyenne and myself, met last weekend very much in the spirit of the traditional Scottish ceilidh, to sing songs and tell stories. At least half the company sang a song or recited a poem or a monologue remembered from childhood, and the evening was full of laughter and humour. Musical accompaniment was provided by our hostess on the squeezebox and the Doyenne on the piano.

Most participants professed to being a little nervous at having to perform publicly, but we all surprised ourselves at how well we did. In any event the standard was very high and we were a sympathetic audience and readily applauded every piece. To keep our strength up a delicious supper was provided which we ate in stages during intervals in the entertainment.

  

We've got used to packaged entertainment on the telly, but the evening showed how much latent talent we all have when we cast off our inhibitions and share it with kindred spirits.