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.

Proverbial Scotch

November 6th, 2010

I CONFESS, I'm not fond of spiders. I'm not too worried about the wee ones that abseil down on a silken thread and give the game away that the Doyenne has slipped up on her high dusting. You can tread on those but of course the old Scottish tradition has it that if you kill a spider it will rain the next day.

A neighbour told me about the infestation of spiders which invaded her house. They are so huge she can hear them scuttling along behind the skirting boards. Scots of a certain age will know that a conker placed at each corner of the room keeps the spiders away.

I buzzed round to my neighbour with a handful of the antidote. There's no word yet of how successful the retaliatory action has been but I have high hopes.

The holly trees and yews are covered with red berries which may herald another hard winter. The blackbirds especially are taking advantage of the easy food while it is plentiful.

My father was an enthusiastic amateur wine maker and there seemed almost no fruit or vegetable that he didn't at least consider making into wine   Hedgerow cordials he called them which was dangerously misleading as some of them, his peach wine in particular, had a kick like a demented mule. He talked about making holly wine but thankfully, never got round to it.

Just as well he didn't have a go with yew berries. Their pink flesh is supposed to be edible but the stone, or pit, in the centre is poisonous; although great tits have adapted their digestive system to be able to feed on the whole berry quite safely.

However safe anyone says they are I'm wary of eating the flesh, just in case something horrid has leeched out of the stone and gives me a pain in the peenie. There's another fine old-fashioned Scottish saying which I doubt you'll hear echoing round the walls of Ninewells Hospital.

It was actually a Victorian catch-all diagnosis for any pain which young girls in
particular experienced in that part of their anatomy beneath their pinafore, or pinny, and for which there was no immediate explanation.

 €œA woman, a dog and a walnut tree/ The harder you beat them the better they be €

Out with the dogs I came across the green outer husks of walnuts scattered on the grass. The ends had been broken open and when I cut one in half the empty wrinkled walnut shell was still inside. The work of squirrels I'm sure as only they have the dexterity and sharp teeth to break open the shells to get to the nut.

I haven't actually discussed the inner wisdom of that Scottish proverb about the old walnut tree with the Doyenne   I fear her response might be robust!

And there’s more now –

See my new blog      A Breath of Fresh Air from Scotland

Written on Saturday, November 6th, 2010 at 12:10 pm for Weekly.