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.

Smoke gets in your eyes

March 27th, 2010

TWO KIPPERS set me off down memory lane   Caroline, our fish lady, calls each week with lovely fresh fish from Gourdon   The dogs smother her with cupboard love because they have discovered she always has a pocketful of biscuits   At Tuesday breakfast the Doyenne and I discuss what fish we'll buy   This week, because we'd been neglecting them, we settled on kippers for supper.

I've written about kippers before – the ones I remember buying from the Duke's smokery in Ullapool, where we holidayed in the late 1940s and early 1950s   The Duke (a nickname, I never knew his proper name) smoked the biggest herring that were caught by the herring drifters in The Minch, which at that time still teemed with the fish.

We took the kippers back for my mother to grill on the calor gas cooker in the caravan and they were so large they overflowed the plates   They were fat and juicy and oozed Omega 3 oils, although we scarcely knew or cared about the benefits of such things in those days.

My father arranged for the two of us to go out on a drifter called  €œSilver Harvest € which was registered in either Fraserburgh or Peterhead but spent the summer fishing out of Ullapool to exploit the huge shoals of herring   I was horribly seasick and sent below to lie down on a bunk   I fell asleep and missed the most important part of the trip when they hauled in the net at daybreak, brimming with the  silver darlings'.

At the time Ullapool was one of Scotland's principal herring ports, and it was always a great excitement to run down to the pier and watch the boats sailing in and unloading their catches.

I would shout to one of the fishermen working on a boat deck and ask –  €œCan I get a fry of herring, please? €   Usually I got a friendly answer and was asked how many it was for   There was me and my sister and our parents, and six or seven large fish were thrown up onto the pier   I threaded tarry string through their gills and carried them triumphantly back to the caravan.

It was my job to gut and split the fish ready for frying   I had to keep the melt or milts, which can politely be described as the roe of male herring, which my mother fried separately in butter and Father ate on toast   Somewhere there is a black and white photo of me as a skinny wee lad, standing bent double in Loch Broom, gutting herring – enveloped in swarms of midges, which probably encouraged me to finish the job quicker.

In the 1960s, when I was a callow youth, I wore the flamboyantly wide and psychedelically coloured kipper ties – but of course in those days I was a dedicated follower of fashion!

Written on Saturday, March 27th, 2010 at 9:55 am for Weekly.