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.

“…. little smoke, in pallid moonshine, died”

October 18th, 2008

THE DOYENNE and I have only just discovered autumn fruiting raspberries, which are whopping great berries about the size of loganberries. Surprisingly neither of us had tasted one before, but they have been grown locally for a considerable time. A friend remembers seeing them thirty years ago on Chivers' farm at Courthill, which lies south of Montrose, overlooking Lunan Bay.

Montrosians of a certain age will remember Chivers, the jam and jelly manufacturers, whose factory beside Montrose harbour provided much employment, particularly in the berry season. They were a Cambridge based company, now long gone from the town, that set up in Montrose because of the ready availability of high quality soft fruit grown in Angus and Perthshire.

Autumn raspberries aren't as sweet as the summer berries, but I'm assured they are excellent for pie fillings and making jam. They are resistant to the early frosts which may explain why they freeze so well. And kind friends have ensured we have some in our deep freeze for the Doyenne to try her magic on later.

Cherry laurel is an evergreen ornamental shrub that produces autumn fruit that look like small, black cherries. I picked two or three and cut them open. The flesh is similar to a cultivated cherry and there is a stone inside. I was doubtful about eating them, so I heeded the admonitions of my Loanhead aunty who would have said – “when in doubt, don't.” After all, it wouldn't do to get a pain in the peenie!

I'd forgotten to replace the lid of the black plastic bin where I keep peanuts for the woodpeckers and the red squirrels. When I came to fill the feeders again a dark shadow was moving in the bottom of the bin. It was three long-tailed field mice that had climbed up the rough stone wall and leapt inside, but then found the sides too high to leap out again.

I had several tricky moments trying to catch them – they move like quicksilver – in order to release them back into the garden. They all made a beeline for a hole under some coping stones where I expect they have made their nest.

The moon last Tuesday evening was as bright as I've seen it. I took my Courier out into the moonlight to see if it was light enough to read a newspaper by. It wasn't – but I could read the headlines.

We've started to light the fire in the evenings. Taking the dogs out last thing, when the wind has dropped away to nothing, the scent of wood smoke hangs in the still night air. It gives me a feeling of totally unjustified self-sufficiency, as if it was I who had hewn the trees and chopped up the logs – in reality all I did was stack them in the stick shed.

Written on Saturday, October 18th, 2008 at 7:09 am for Weekly.