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.

Mixed messages

October 30th, 2010

WHAT A difference a day makes   The dogs and I had taken the river path through the Blue Door at the Gannochy Bridge and along the side of the River North Esk   Two photographers with cameras on tripods, obviously preparing to take a carefully planned photograph, caught the dogs' attention   We had to go and investigate.

I wondered if they hoped to  €œshoot € a red squirrel, but it was trees they were snapping   They come to Scotland most years at this time and have visited the woods at The Burn before   We agreed that Scotland's autumn colours are far more memorable than America's New England  €œfall €.

It was late afternoon, overcast, and a weak sun shone through the clouds onto a beech tree whose two main limbs have grown into an elongated diamond shape   The sun on the sere leaves gave them an ochre luminescence and the tree stood out from its background with dramatic dynamism.

We – the dogs and I, that is – took the same walk the next afternoon   It was earlier and the sun shone out of a clear sky   Apart from its shape it was hard to believe I was looking at the same tree.

I tell the story in words, the photographers tell theirs in pictures   Whereas I can tell the same story, with the same words, over and over again, the photographers can never repeat theirs   The time, the weather, the light, will never all coincide in exactly the same way as they did when that first photo was taken.

The peanut feeders outside the back door are deserted   What with berries, brambles, the dead heads of grasses filled with seeds, there's so much other choice at this time of year that the birds don't need to rely on us to supplement their food   Only the tits are regular visitors, but we know the others will be back.

Squirrels and pigeons feast on fallen acorns leaving only the empty little cups that they grew in   It's not a good year for beech mast which is also a staple food when it's available   It seems to be a characteristic of beech trees that some seasons they hardly produce a crop at all.

The dogs and I are on duty next Friday and Saturday signing books at a Handcraft and Vintage Christmas Fair at Kinrossie Village Hall organised to raise funds for Help for Heroes   Having a son who spent sixteen years in the army we know how important the work is that they do and we hope the event will be well supported.

Vintage housewares, tweed handbags, art and photography means there will be interesting and different stalls and the WRI are serving tea, coffee and cake to keep your strength up   Kinrossie is between Scone and Coupar Angus, just off the A94, a few minutes out of Perth, and admission is free.

There’s more now –

Visit my new blog     A Breath of Fresh Air from Scotland

Written on Saturday, October 30th, 2010 at 10:28 am for Weekly.