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.

First and last

April 18th, 2009

EASTER BUNNIES and chocolate eggs were all the order of the day last weekend. The Doyenne and I were down in the Borders visiting grandchildren Mathilda and Alfie for Easter, and introducing the new Inka to them. Everyone was delighted to meet him except the cats Jennifer and Fergus which gave both dogs pretty dusty receptions.

Our new dog has been with us for a fortnight now and, fingers crossed, life is running pretty smoothly. Inka appears to have accepted his change of name as if it had always been so. His worst transgression to date has been to chew the peak of my fore-and-after hat, which has given it a slightly rakish, lived-in look. And Macbeth is getting used, grudgingly, to the idea that he's no longer king of the midden.

Sir George Cockerill was head of MI5 during the First World War and on retirement he bought a very handsome holiday house in Montrose called Grey Harlings, which sits beside the 18th green of the Medal Golf Course, on the way to the beach. My parents often went to the house for parties when Sir George came north, and once in a while my sister and I would be included too. For Easter presents Sir George used to give dark chocolate cockerels, about sixteen inches high, which were made for him by Harrods. For a number of years my sister and I were on the present list and my sister remembers calling these special treats “chockerills”. This was in the early 1950s when there was still a mood of post-World War Two austerity and our mother dealt out the rich chocolate sparingly to make it last a long time.

I've discovered that there's no better way to usefully waste time than watching wildlife. It's fascinating, sitting at the kitchen window drinking my cup of coffee and dunking a couple of ginger nuts, watching the pecking order that has developed between the birds and the red squirrels which come to the peanut feeders.

Within seconds of putting out a full feeder the tits and the finches have descended on it and are feeding greedily. It's as though there's a lookout posted to tell the rest. When the woodpeckers fly in they chase off the songbirds and claim all the food for themselves. The jackdaws quickly notice that there's easy pickings again and they chase off the woodpeckers. But the squirrels think it's all for their benefit and see off the jackdaws.

A fat woodpigeon arrives to hoover up the nut scraps that fall to the ground. It takes on the jackdaws but the squirrels are too much for it. When they've all chased each other away the opportunistic songbirds are always there in the wings (in a manner of speaking), quick to fly in and grab another snack while the coast is clear.

Written on Saturday, April 18th, 2009 at 10:56 pm for Weekly.