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.

“….. breath of Autumn’s being

October 11th, 2008

CONKERS, GEESE, waking up to frost on the car in the mornings – all autumn's awaited calling cards.

I've been kicking conkers through the grass as I walk the dogs. I remember at prep school, the excitement and competition to grab the conkers that fell from the big chestnut tree. At the end of each class there was an unseemly scramble to get out of the classroom and round to the tree to see if any more of the shiny nuts had fallen.

I never weary of writing about the geese. Out first thing with the dogs I watched a skein of them flying north, framed by the morning sun against a cloudless blue sky. The steady beating chevron was so high they must have been aiming to clear the Cairn o' Mount for a destination somewhere about Aboyne. Later, out for the main walk, the afternoon sun caught the tiny silver shape of an airliner flying westwards many times higher than the geese, on its way to America, no doubt

It's just needed a couple of the frosty nights to kill off a lot of the mushrooms and fungi that littered the woods and fields. What's left are blackening, decomposing excrescences in their death throes, some of which were very colourful a fortnight ago although some were fairly repulsive anyway. But there are still flashes of colour, if you keep your eyes open. I've found three clusters of bright saffron-orange Yellow Stagshorn fungus growing in the rotting stumps of old conifers.

There's much talk, and increasing television coverage, of the rewards from gathering nature's wild bounty, eating off the land, eating for free. Regular readers will know that we heartily endorse the idea in this household. We practised what we preach last weekend when we were lucky enough to be given a haunch of roe deer venison.

The Doyenne marinated it for two days in olive oil, celery, onion, juniper berries, orange rind, our own parsley and thyme, seasoning and red wine. Slow roasted on a bed of root vegetables, the gravy was made from the juices from the roast and the liquidised vegetables, and flavoured with her own redcurrant jelly. Served up with the Doyenne's home-made apple and rowan jelly, the meat was pink and moist and tender – and our guests seemed to approve.

Pudding was the Doyenne's bramble and apple pie and a bramble mousse. The apples were a gift and I'd picked four and a half pounds of brambles from the roadsides close to home (I'm still picking the thorns out of my fingers). So there's a call for more brambles to go into the freezer for the Christmas pies, or else there will be uproar from the family when they come to visit.

And now  I'd best refill the bird feeders, or there will be another uproar!

Written on Saturday, October 11th, 2008 at 11:48 am for Weekly.