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.

… and the skies are not cloudy all day. (Home on the range)

May 29th, 2010

PEOPLE ASK how easy it is for me to write a weekly piece for this column   I tell them that I draw inspiration from about as diverse a canvas as it is possible to have   I have the land and the hills and the mountains, rivers and streams and lochs; the sea in all its moods and what is on it and under it   The skies in the daytime, and at night too when I take the dogs out last thing and we're in another world.

It is strange how little, in general, people know about the sky   In towns and cities we're hemmed in by buildings and our focus and horizon scarcely rises higher than the upper deck of a double decker bus   In the countryside we're so unsure of our footing that we spend more time looking where to put our feet than at the glories above us.

The essayist John Ruskin, in his essay  €œOf the Open Sky €, wrote of the sky –  €œSometimes gentle, sometimes capricious, sometimes awful, never the same for two moments together, almost human in its passions, almost spiritual in its tenderness, almost divine in its infinity  €¦ €

Driving to Blairgowrie on Wednesday to give a talk, I took the high road along the shoulder of Strathmore from Kirriemuir to Blair   It's quite a favourite journey and I can never make up my mind whether I enjoy the trip from east to west more than the drive home.

The great thing about journeys in Scotland is that so often you get the long view, and the skyline of hills ahead of me was silhouetted in bright sunshine against swelling cumulus clouds sailing grandly across the heavens on the west wind.

How right Ruskin was to say that the view is  €œnever the same for two moments together €   It fascinates me how painters manage to hold an image of clouds in the eye of their minds and transfer it to canvas   There's no putting everything on hold or scrolling back to see how it was a moment ago.

Joseph Henderson, my great grandfather, was a notable painter of his generation, and many of his paintings demonstrate grand skies sometimes with towering, threatening cumulonimbus clouds and others with gentler cumulus   Amongst contemporary painters our friend James Morrison has become the master of the grand sky.

I hope I've always noticed and appreciated the beauties of the firmament   Ten years ago I'd probably have said  €œHow pretty €   Now I say  €œHow exciting €, because however long my allotted span is, it's ten years shorter now than it was ten years ago, and I'm greedy to sup up all the beauty that my god has sent to illuminate my life.

Written on Saturday, May 29th, 2010 at 9:58 am for Weekly.