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 the strong came forth sweetness

May 23rd, 2009

MODERN TECHNOLOGY is a wonderful thing and helps ease any number of daily chores. So long as the dishwasher, mainstay of my domestic life, is churning away cleaning the dirty supper dishes I can kid myself (never the Doyenne, of course!) that I'm a domestic god. When it breaks down I throw a wee tantrum and can't wait for the engineer to call and make it work again.

Until the invention of the mechanical reaper, or binder, farmers depended on the scythe and the sickle to cut and gather in their corn crops. It was slow work and labour intensive and farmers and their workers must have flung their hats in the air when the mechanical alternative first came on the market. When it broke down there would have been some pretty earthy language at the thought of going back to the old backbreaking ways.

Louise Myles is owner of Isabella's Preserves, producing the most delicious range of jams, jellies, marmalades, chutneys and relishes. A farmer's daughter, she believes the secret of success is sourcing the finest Scottish produce such as strawberries, raspberries and tomatoes grown, ripened and picked in their traditional seasons to produce best taste and quality.

In her kitchen cauldrons were bubbling, but there was nothing of Shakespeare's tongue of newt and hens' teeth business – it was traditional blackcurrant and gooseberry jam being boiled up. Most ingredients are bought direct from the grower, straight off the field – apples for her cranberry sauce come from a Marykirk garden.

50,000 jars are hand filled annually by a staff of five, and Louise told me how surprised customers are at how much is handmade. In this kitchen in the country real people chop, peel, stir and jar the produce by hand; and it's all tasted for quality just like you do at home. Louise has no plans for automation, believing that the unique taste of her products is in the hand process.

While she supplies prestige customers like Harrods, the Queen Mother's holiday retreat Castle of Mey, and House of Bruar, Louise knows that success comes closer to home and you'll find Isabella's Preserves in her local Edzell Post Office and outlets throughout Angus and Mearns; and I can never pass her stall when I see her at the local Farmers' Markets. I left clutching a jar of carrot and lemon marmalade, one of the latest additions to the range – now, that's got WOW factor.

Not even a man with two dogs is safe from technology failures. Right now my computer is on the blink and I'm waiting for the engineer to arrive to sort it. I can't send this week's article to the paper electronically so I'll need to jump on my penny-farthing bicycle and pedal down to Dundee and hand it to the editor personally. The exercise will likely do me good.



Apology – Sorry to have been so behind with updating the site with the last two week’s articles   I had a major misfunction and it has taken more time than I could have imagined to get back online  



Written on Saturday, May 23rd, 2009 at 2:53 pm for Weekly.