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.

Hunting & gathering

July 19th, 2008

LAST SUNDAY morning I gave the Doyenne a wee treat. The wild strawberries which grow in the two troughs at the front of the house had been getting riper and riper and my fulsome assurances that I would pick them “this evening” were met with patient forbearance.

But I kept my word and (as I've recommended before) halving an ogen melon and scooping out the seeds, popped the berries into the cavity. The ambrosia of the over-ripe berries mixed with the sweetness of the melon was a spoilatious start to the day.

There's been a great yellow bush of honeysuckle brightening up the approach to Edzell from Brechin. I stopped and cut a handful of the flowers to take home, for the scent of honeysuckle is the most nostalgic scent I know. Turning up the Glenesk road there are more bushes by the roadside. So I cut another handful and had them all in a vase for the Doyenne's return. We'll enjoy the fragrance throughout the house, and of course it tops up the credit points with the Doyenne which is never a bad thing.

Old (long-standing, naturally) friend Dr Andrew Orr, retired from general practise and now filling his days by going down to the sea in boats, invited me out for a morning's fishing. The Doyenne's parting instructions were “mackerel for supper, please.”

We drifted off St Cyrus beach and romantic-sounding Tangleha', and with the engine switched off sat in companionable peace just talking when the mood took us. Andrew had seen the dolphins as we drove down the brae into Johnshaven. I was delighted, once we were out on the water, to see them leaping in spectacular unison off the point at Milton Ness. I hoped they might have been attracted by the sound of the engine and swum over to join us, but no such luck.

The village of Miltonhaven is reputed to have been a free port which meant that the lairds of nearby Lauriston Castle could land goods there without paying any taxes or excise duty. The village was swept away in a fearful storm in 1795 and the township of Tangleha' grew up in its place. It would be a bit of a wheeze if the current laird, in a spirit of investigative research, landed several hogsheads of brandy at the small harbour to test the story. I'd look forward to drinking his health in the brandy – after I'd visited him in the clink, of course!

The Doyenne got her mackerel, and we ate them for supper that evening accompanied by a gift of red Duke of York potatoes which we steamed, rather than boiled, to retain their floury consistency. And a second picking of wild strawberries has been ripening in the troughs so I'll be able to give her another wee treat tomorrow morning.

Written on Saturday, July 19th, 2008 at 7:44 am for Weekly.