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.

“To give a name ….”

April 12th, 2008

I WATCHED the hare getting increasingly nervous as we got closer. The dogs were hidden behind a wall but the upper part of my body showed above it. Hares are nocturnal feeders and overnight this one had wandered into a small park which is enclosed with chicken wire to combat the rabbits, and now it had forgotten where it had come in. No doubt it had been attracted by the sweet, young grass which has yet to get its first cut of the season.

The hare got more alarmed and dashed up and down the fence seeking a way out. The black-tipped radar ears flicked back and forth decoding every subtle message. It could easily have leapt the wire – I've seen their powerful hind legs carry them to safety over dry stone dykes on many occasions – but, as with most wildlife, it looked for the least taxing escape route rather than expend energy unnecessarily. Having said that, I've twice seen a hare take to water, once into the sea, when cornered by pursuing dogs.

There was no need for such drama this time. With a wriggle through the bars of the gate he – or perhaps it was she – regained the safety of the open field where its speed gave it the assurance of being master of the situation.

The dogs and I showed the Doyenne the mistle thrush nest I wrote about several weeks ago. The hen bird has been sitting on her eggs for about ten days now. She never twitched a muscle as we got closer but I knew the black, beady eyes were watching every move we made. The nest is open to the elements and so far she has endured rain, sleet, high winds and, last weekend, snow.

I turned off the main road to Cortachy village and drove past Inverquarity Castle which takes its name from the nearby Quarity Burn. It has been restored and is a private house now, but I remember visiting it as a child with my father when it was an exciting ruin. The castle is pronounced “Inverwharity”, yet the burn is pronounced “Carrity”.

We Scots do funny things with our pronunciation of place names. There's Kinneuchar for Kilconquar in Fife; and Fingan for Finzean on Deeside. And what about Ochenyoch for Auchenzeoch. But most romantic is Bonnymoon for Balnamoon.

The English do the same thing with their surnames. Featherstonehaugh is reputedly shortened to Fanshaw. Bagehot becomes Badget, and St Leger is transformed to Sillinger. It's probably one of Baldrick's (from the TV series  Blackadder') “cunning plans” to outwit the Martians if ever they should land!

I'm assured on the best authority that a wild turkey has been spotted around the Shielhill Bridge near Kirriemuir. Turkeys at Christmas I understand, but wild turkeys at Easter make me query which one of us the turkey really is!

Written on Saturday, April 12th, 2008 at 9:12 am for Weekly.