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.

Canine cultural leap

August 21st, 2010

OVERNIGHT RAIN had raised the level of the River North Esk and freshened up the water   Late afternoon on Tuesday the dogs and I were walking downriver towards the Gannochy Bridge and the Blue Door   There's little to distinguish it from any other blue door, stuck as it is in the wall, just on the other side of the bridge at the start of the Burn Estate.

But this particular blue door is a bit like the one that leads into The Secret Garden, for behind it is the much loved  Walk through the Blue Door' which ends a mile or so upriver at the Rocks of Solitude.

The Burn House was built by Lord Adam Gordon in 1796 and because he was head of the army in Scotland at the time, he was able to call up detachments of French prisoners-of-war to The Burn to help with laying out the gardens and policies   He set them to creating the riverside walk along the top of the ravine carved out, over millenniums, by the water's action.

As the dogs and I passed The Loups where the river narrows and gathers pace, tumbling over a series of waterfalls between rocky banks, I saw the flick of a fish   The Loups or Leaps are well named, for migrating fish have to loup through the rapids to reach calmer water and continue their journey upriver to the headwaters to spawn.

For twenty minutes or so, amongst the lengthening shadows of the trees, I watched a run of seatrout launching themselves, like countless generations before, into the broken waters to reach the next level of their passage up the glen.

On Wednesday I was in Edinburgh at the International Book Festival in Charlotte Square Gardens   It's the sort of event where you never know who you'll meet and, sure enough, I met four Angus ladies coming out of the   bookshop   Which just shows what a small world it is, even when you think you're a long way from home.

Next stop was the authors' tent – another place where you never know who you'll meet   Martin Bell, former BBC war correspondent and independent MP came in   I'd admired what he did as a politician and as I'll likely never get the chance to speak to him again, I sat down beside him and introduced myself.

I bumped, almost literally, into Jim Naughtie, presenter of BBC Radio 4's Today programme, whose cheerful voice wakens us most mornings   I felt I wanted the chance to say a few words in return   It transpired that in his student days he had been a member of a university reading party at The Burn House, which is the imposing mansion you see at the top of the hill when you take a walk through the blue door.

Right enough – it's a small world!

Written on Saturday, August 21st, 2010 at 6:43 am for Weekly.