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.

…. on the other side of the hill.

May 31st, 2008

PROMISED last week to tell you more about little Migvie Kirk, near Tarland, which we stumbled upon while we were taking a short break in Aberdeenshire.

Our initial reaction when we pushed open the door and found the interior flooded with clever internal lighting, was gasps of astonishment. The building had been completely stripped out to provide a canvas for the best skills of local artists to celebrate the memory of the Hon. Philip Astor's parents.

Three stained glass windows depicting the local landscape, lit from behind, sing with colour. From outside they look like blank eyes giving no clue to their impact against the plain white walls. Panels with secular and biblical quotations from great and good men have been painted – apparently randomly, but I'm sure as part of a very thoughtful plan – to take the visitor on a journey of contemplation.

One supplicant begs – “Oh Son of God, perform a miracle for me €¦.” Perhaps it started in this unexpected place.

In the centre of the room four massive stone communion chairs sit round a communion table. A great cross, carved out of the plasterwork, imposes itself on the whole space. A mythical bird of prey, and a travelling visionary (perhaps?) who may have visited the holy site are depicted high up on the wall. If painting is a condition of the soul, the soul is stripped back to its essentials here.

Nor was the woodcarver forgotten. As a reminder of the eternal thread of life, the interlaced knotwork pattern of the Celtic cross on the 8th century carved stone at the entrance to the graveyard has been reproduced on the inside of the double doors of the church. It would be a nice touch if the wood for them had come from the Tillypronie Estate on which the church stands.Overawed is not a word to use lightly, but neither the Doyenne nor I came away wanting to talk about our experiences until we'd had time to gather our thoughts. It was a place we didn't want to leave. We didn't altogether understand the significance of some of the things we saw and read, but they were there for a reason. So we'll go back. This natural building encourages you to empty your mind, and in the calming influence of its simplicity think about the value of our lives.

And what of the dogs? There wasn't much coming over them while we were away, having their own little holiday in the local kennels. They bounded in with every anticipation of enjoying themselves. When I collected them they showed no signs of having missed us but bounded out again, smothering me in bad breath and moulting black hair, delighted to see the old familiar face. Beauty in a dog's life is probably the certainty of long walks and two square meals a day!