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.

Out of town

September 6th, 2008

FARM SHOPS are hardly a new phenomenon and in our experience have ranged from a tray of vegetables at the roadside, with an honesty box, to some pretty fantoosh establishments.

When we took family holidays down in the Borders we went to a farm worker's cottage overlooking the sea near Cockburnspath and chapped on the door. If he was busy having his tea the children would pick peas and the Doyenne and I dug potatoes and carrots, or cut a lettuce or a cabbage. We were assured of quality and freshness and it was part of the fun that we had to do the work ourselves.

On a totally different level and providing a totally different experience is the Finzean Estate Farm Shop and Tearoom. Drive north over the Cairn o' Mount and after you've crossed the Brig of Dye take the left fork at the foot of the hill and head for Aboyne. You'll come to the village of Finzean, and instead of bearing right for Aboyne head straight out of the village on the Forest of Birse road and follow the signs.

The Tearoom typifies just how well you can eat, out of town, using as many locally produced ingredients as possible. One of their secrets is not having too big a menu to confuse the visitor. We both had spinach and parmesan quiche (that way I don't think the Doyenne's doing better than me!) which was still warm from the oven, light as a feather, and quite delicious. It was served with tasters of beans, nuts, and salad leaves and several different breads (made on the premises) and oatcakes.

There was a choice of almond and broccoli soup or  four onion' soup. I never found out if, with canny Aberdeenshire thrift, there was just four ingins  intilt', or if they use four different varieties – but on balance I think the latter, as customer satisfaction seems pretty well top of their list of priorities. I could have had a pudding too, but that would have floored me for the rest of the day. Everything is so deceptively simple in presentation, but there is a genius beavering away in that kitchen.

The shop is full of organic and wholefood goodies much of which are either produced on the estate itself or bought from local producers. Fresh fruit and vegetables grown and picked in season, as it should be. Beef from the estate herd, some interesting sausages, smoked meats, venison, locally produced cheeses – if we lived any closer the Doyenne would never be out of the place. And there's much, much more.

Friendly, cheerful service completed a thoroughly happy experience. And there are great places for walking dogs along the banks of the River Feugh, although that particular afternoon I was more interested in closing my eyes and dreaming about spinach and parmesan quiche.

Written on Saturday, September 6th, 2008 at 8:28 am for Weekly.