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.

Senior moments

October 10th, 2009

THERE'S AN old walled garden with a burn running through it not far from the house. I sit on the bridge over the burn while Inka plowters about in the water which is full of wild water cress. It would be grand if Macbeth was a water dog too – he might be a bit cleaner more of the time – but, for such a foul animal, he's surprisingly fastidious about getting his feet wet.

Old rose bushes hanging off the walls and a couple of apple trees are survivors from earlier times when the garden was in cultivation. A patch of white flowers (which I can't identify) have self-seeded by the side of a wall. The season for cutting flowers is nearly finished so I picked a bunch of the fugitives for the Doyenne – it does no harm to bank credit points whenever you can!

It brought back memories of family caravan holidays on a farm near Ullapool in the 1950s. One of the highlights was picking red and yellow raspberries in the abandoned farm garden. The once ordered rows of canes grew wild and had spread and my sister and I gorged ourselves on the berries and collected apples for puddings.

It's odd what can spook a dog. The high winds last weekend brought down a large branch from an ancient beech tree. The bough had rotted through the centre which accounts for it being weakened in the gale. Our neighbour Harry was soon out with his chainsaw to cut it up. The thickest part, where it had sheared off from the main trunk, was cut into sections for easy removal. At a glance, the rotten hole could have been mistaken for a wide roaring mouth in the middle of an enormous white face.

Inka was halted in his tracks when he came face to face with this. He obviously felt threatened and began barking at it. He made a dash at it several times as if he might attack it, but backed away each time. He wouldn't come near even when I patted it to show him it was harmless. Macbeth, on the other hand trotted past, without a second glance.

Another victim of the gales, another elderly beech, has fallen across the path “through the Blue Door” and up the side of the River North Esk, near Edzell. It looks to have stood about a hundred feet high and perhaps it was planted two hundred years ago by one of the French POWs employed by Lord Adam Gordon, head of the army in Scotland, who owned The Burn estate in the early 1800s.

It's sad to see such a veteran of the woods so cast down. If a tree like that blew down in my garden I'd have it made into tables and chairs which would become the family heirlooms for future generations.

Written on Saturday, October 10th, 2009 at 8:33 am for Weekly.