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.

New from old

July 24th, 2010

CHRISTMAS IS coming; I've just seen the first advertisement and window display   Not in a newspaper or on television, but on the holly tree that the kitchen window looks out onto   It's covered in small pale green berries, but when the berries have ripened and once winter sets in there'll be a spectacular scarlet and green cascade of colour to welcome us each morning.

Chanterelles this early were a bit of a surprise too   Out walking the dogs last Saturday the Doyenne and I came across a handful – not enough for a fry-up – of the tasty mushrooms in the beech woods near the house   I've seen a few more of their orange caps but, from the experience of past years, it will be several weeks before there are enough to pick.

If I had a long ladder I could pick the geans which are ripening on the trees we pass on the dogs' early morning walk   Geans are our Scottish wild cherries – not as large as the cultivated fruit you buy in the supermarket, and they have a slightly tart flavour, but another free feast from nature if you can get them   In the absence of the long ladder it'll likely only be the birds that benefit from the free feast.

I have fond memories of a family holiday in France when the lady whose cottage we were renting presented us with a wild cherry tart called clafoutis, made to the traditional Limoges district recipe   Magnifique!

Whenever I walk into the garage I disturb a swallow   She – for it's only the hen bird that incubates the eggs – quickly returns to the nest   It's an old one that hadn't been used for the last three seasons that I know of   The birds renovated and recycled it and now I look forward to seeing their wide-beaked chicks peering over the edge, loudly demanding food from the hard pressed parents.

A more interesting example of recycling which I hadn't seen before is in the entrance porch of the Maule Memorial Church in Glen Esk   A pigeon has built its scruffy rickle of twigs which serves for a nest on top of what looks like a last year's blackbird's nest   It's a lot more stable than the one I saw in an elderberry bush, hanging together on a wing and a prayer, when I was gathering blossom for the Doyenne's home made elderflower cordial.

Walking down the back drive of the big hoose with the dogs we put up a buzzard   As soon as it took flight I realised it was a young one, newly fledged and still dependent on its parents for food   It flew into the ancient beech tree in the field and as we got home I could hear him – or perhaps it was her – squalling just like any hungry bairn needing their tea.

Written on Saturday, July 24th, 2010 at 10:35 pm for Weekly.