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.

A colourful life

May 30th, 2009

COLOUR DEFINES the month of May for me. Yellow fields of ripening oil seed rape, great blocks of yellow, seen in the distance as I drive through the countryside, are cheerful splashes of colour. My mother, however, regarded them as intrusive blots on her landscape, and perhaps she had a point as this is colour on an industrial scale.

It's the fresh colours of springtime in their natural setting that capture my imagination. Earlier in the month the roadsides and brae faces fairly glowed when the sun was on the gorse's rich, golden-yellow flowers – bonny to look at, but prickly to walk through. The intensity of colour is fading now but the gorse will carry on blooming practically throughout the rest of the year.

The dogs and I sometimes walk in quiet, hidden places by river banks, along field edges, beside tumbling burns and through woods that look as if they are hardly visited by anyone else but us. That's where I see the splashes of colour that especially delight me. There's a bank with primroses tucked in below a busy glen road. There aren't the carpets of the yellow flowers that I remember my father plundering to make his primrose wine but, by today's standards, that hidden bank hosts a grand showing of them.

It's hard to miss the bright wee faces of blue borage growing in beneath beech hedges. Little blue speedwell is there too, rather apologetic by comparison. And blue wild hyacinths. Seven years ago, when I had just started writing this column, I was seriously taken to task by a reader for referring to harebells as bluebells. I try not to make these mistakes now.

Hawthorn bushes laden with clusters of lacy white flowers, golden saxifrage, purple vetch, white chickweed, red wild roses and pink ladies smock all flourish in places that aren't affected by agricultural spraying.

I've come across lily of the valley and Solomon's Seal, but they are surely escapees from gardens because they aren't true wild flowers. Ladies used to apply a distillation of Solomon's Seal petals as a toilet water to remove blemishes from their skin.

Do children still play little games with wild flowers, like picking the petals off daisies and chanting “he/she loves me; he/she loves me not”? The last petal to come off indicates the other's affections. Or blowing the parachute seeds off dead dandelion heads? The number of puffs it takes to blow off all the seeds tells the time of day. Not very scientific, I think. If you're a very small person and you can't blow off all the seeds in one go, you might think it was two o'clock and you'd missed your lunch!

And one's preference for butter can always be established by someone holding a buttercup beneath your chin; if your skin glows yellow, you definitely like butter.

Written on Saturday, May 30th, 2009 at 9:50 am for Weekly.