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.

Drinking life to the lees

November 27th, 2010

BOUNDING UP the bank of the River North Esk at Inveriscandye Farm, Inka was transfixed by one of those insistent scents that no red-blooded dog can ignore   I was curious to see what it was and encouraged him on   His nose went into the cover and with a tremendous thrashing of wings a large bird erupted from the rickle of branches and dead grass and flew off low over the water.

It was too large for a pheasant and my first, fevered thought was that it was a capercailzie, but no capercailzie ever had a large iridescent patch of feathers on its rear end, and I can't think when one of the biggest of the grouse family was last reported locally   It was only when it landed clumsily in the trees on the far side that I realised that it was a peacock   Not the run-of-the-mill birdlife you expect in and around the environs of Edzell.

At the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August a girl in a wheelchair gave me a slim volume of poetry with a personal dedication for me, which made it rather special because I'd never been recognised in this way before.

I Know The Gateway, by Jilly Garnett takes the reader through the frustrations of increasing wheelchair dependency and recollections of previous freedom   One poem, Performance, is surprisingly personal, and quite matter-of-fact in its description of the intimacies of surgical procedures.

Jilly Garnett doesn't brood on her limitations   Crow describes her acceptance of inevitability  €œ €¦wisdom in hindsight / won't soak up spilt milk / bolt stable doors / or dry tears at bedtime €   In Close Encounters she shares earthy observations of the reduced landscape of the wheelchair traveller's life, noticing  €œ €¦belts and not-done-up zips and / (is) crowded by beer bellies louring above €

She ranges over a broad palette of emotions, talking directly to the reader   Lambs To The Silence recalls the First World War  €¦ €œwe've supplies of fresh tommy / and tin hats to keep off the rain / we're bound for a picnic held for / boys on a field in Flanders €.

Down Lowrie's Den, whose opening line  €œI know the gateway to Hades €¦ € provides the name of the collection, uses nature's metaphors which inevitably appealed to me   A  €œbeech tree's brindled legs € and the cold burn's brown babble – word pictures that are part of my daily life.

Thwarted by the cul-de-sac that life has led her down –  €œFind me a straw to clutch €¦ €, but working towards a new creative expression –  €œOne day soon, I'll let out the me / whom nobody knows €¦ € I suspect she's well on the way to achieving her vision.

I've thoroughly enjoyed my unexpected gift   At 92 pages it's the perfect size to top off a Christmas stocking (price £8-95)   e-mail   or phone 0131 447 1265.

Written on Saturday, November 27th, 2010 at 9:58 pm for Weekly.