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.

More than babbling streams

July 5th, 2008

“BELLOWING LIKE the bulls of Baal” is an expression to describe extreme, intemperate noise – a “beastly” noise, you might say. Baal was one of the ancient Egyptians' most important gods, rider of the clouds and god of fertility, who presided over not just the earth but the animals too. The bull was Baal's cult animal and symbol of the god's power.

Since the start of June our neighbours in the fields beside the house have been three bulls and their harems of cows. Perhaps it's the gods who decree that fertility must be saluted with bellowing. We're scarcely aware of it in the daytime, but throughout the nights the bulls have bellowed and groaned and grunted as nature has taken its course.

Walking past them with the dogs, the cows have seemed signally unimpressed with these passionate outbursts, ruminatively chewing their cud as they awaited their turn in this bovine rutting. We should start to see the outcome of their conjugal encounters sometime around 7th March next year, as I'm told cows have a gestation period of nine months and nine days.Friends living by the side of the River North Esk overlooking Morphie Dyke, a man-made weir about a mile upriver from where the river flows into the sea, suggested a walk down the riverbank with our two dogs and Bella, their very frisky Jack Russell terrier. I've sometimes mentioned Macbeth's sawn off little leggies, but Bella's wee stumps take her even closer to Nature. She nonetheless has a wicked turn of speed and can leave Macbeth standing at the starting post.

As a laddie I used to play at Stone of Morphie farm which sits higher up the hill, so I was familiar with the ground we walked. Giant hogweed, which was introduced here as an ornamental plant, appears in some profusion down the riverside. It may look like outsized fool's parsley but it is vicious stuff and a nasty, invasive weed. Its hollow stem has a toxic sap which causes blistering if you get it on your skin.

Some twenty years ago there was a successful nationwide eradication programme by spraying. Seems to me such a scheme could be usefully repeated.

It was disappointing to see the devastation caused by Dutch elm disease. A large number of gaunt, dead trees line the slope below the farm. The cause, the elm bark beetle, is another unwelcome migrant which arrived here from Holland on strong easterly winds.

But I still enjoyed my walk down a very pretty part of the river I hadn't visited for years. It was a gloriously warm afternoon – too hot for Inka who jumped into the water several times to cool down. Back at the cottage we sat in the sun and ate egg sandwiches (a childhood favourite) and carrot cake (another), and rosemary shortbread. Now, that was tasty!