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.

Sting in the tail!

May 22nd, 2010

BEATRIX POTTER is the sort of person who you'd expect to write about nettle soup   Something that Peter Rabbit's mother might have made for him after another heart-stopping adventure in Mr MacGregor's garden and narrowly escaping from ending up in one of Mrs MacGregor's rabbit pies.

It was daughter-in-law Harriet who introduced us to nettle soup made from nettles picked from the old, overgrown lighthouse keepers' walled garden on Little Ross Island, in the mouth of Kirkcudbright Bay   Don't ask what we were doing on Little Ross – it gets complicated – but a rather grisly murder occurred there.

I so enjoyed my daughter-in-law's soup that I promised the Doyenne I would pick nettles for her to make some too   Finally, last Tuesday I pulled on the yellow Marigold washing-up gloves and spent half an hour in the late afternoon sun picking nettles   It's just the very tips you take, no more than the top couple of leaves of young plants.

You need good chicken stock, shallots softened in butter, the nettles cooked until they wilt, a peeled and diced potato, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Whack the whole lot together, simmer for twenty minutes and liquidise   Pretty straightforward really – if I'd had more time I'd probably have made it myself!

It's similar to spinach soup though the colour is darker, and the experience is enhanced by adding a splash of single cream   And don't worry about the sting – it's boiled out in the process.

It's really just cooking with weeds   Another springtime soup – what the French call  crème de pissenlits' – is made from the young leaves of dandelions; and whatever you may think of the name, it's French for dandelions   What were once dismissed as peasant soups are now regarded as the height of  green' cooking.

Inka's tail has got a kink in it   It happened to old Sheba, the first black Labrador of the Man with Two Dogs column   I got in a bit of a flap at the time and imagined her tail would have be amputated   After a while it healed itself but Sheba wouldn't go through a door unless it was wide open, so I reckon she had got it trapped in a swinging door.

Actually, it was camomile tea that Peter Rabbit's mother made for him, having put him to bed when he didn't feel well after hiding in a half-full watering can to escape from Mr MacGregor.

My mother always wanted a camomile lawn   Camomile is a fragrant perennial herb which spreads rapidly as ground cover to make a soft, springy lawn. Once grown it doesn't need mowing or clipping   I suspect my mother had romantic dreams of enjoying a fragrant infusion made with a handful of leaves picked fresh from her garden – much like the Doyenne's nettle soup.

Written on Saturday, May 22nd, 2010 at 9:03 am for Weekly.