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.

Medicinal compounds

November 20th, 2010

THE FOWLS of the air  €œsow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns €   What's the point – we humans do it for them.

The farmers sow, and in due season they reap and gather the crop into barns   Similarly I fill peanut nets for our garden song birds   Once in a while a stranger arrives   Making the Doyenne's early morning cup of tea my eye caught the flash of a jay, the exotically plumaged wide-boy cousin of the jackdaw, landing at one of the feeders. They are wary birds and I hear their harsh cry in the woods round the house much more often than I actually see them.

There's netting round the feeders to protect them from the greedy jackdaws which used to descend in large numbers, bullying the smaller birds and gobbling up the nuts   So, like its cousins, the jay could only look at food it could not reach and, after stamping around for a while in frustration, it flew off   But it was another first, for I've not seen a jay come so close to the house.

The story in Wednesday's Craigie Column about Auld Nick selling a heady bree sweated out of the wood of old whisky barrels left out in the sun, brought back a story from my childhood.

My mother's cousin was married to a Swede called Eric Lindeberg who was the GP in Poolewe on the west of Scotland, beside the famous Inverewe Gardens   He had a great appreciation of whisky which, I suspect, was one of the reasons my father and he got on so well together.

Following the local practise he half-filled a firkin barrel (9 gallons for the auld yins like me, or 34 litres for decimal kids) which had previously contained whisky   Every day he rolled the barrel to the foot of his garden and rolled it back up again   The water took on the colour and taste of the residual whisky left in the wood and after six months he had produced 4 ½ gallons of free whisky and water which, doubtless, he kept purely for medical emergencies.

He had another trick – sitting on the floor and he would draw his knees up to his chest until his feet no longer touched the ground   The muscles in his buttocks were so developed he could hop around the floor balanced only on his bum!

I was thankful I had my cap with me this afternoon   Out in the woods with the dogs the rain came on an absolute pelter   Three months ago the canopy of leaves above me would have kept me quite dry   Now there's just bare branches between me and the elements.

I wrote last week about there being no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing   Today proved – if proof be needed – how suitable an item of clothing yer bunnet is.

And there's more now –

See my new blog      A Breath of Fresh Air from Scotland

Written on Saturday, November 20th, 2010 at 10:41 pm for Weekly.