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.

Bliss of solitude – Wordsworth

April 2nd, 2011

SCOTLAND'S BORDER country is amongst our favourite destinations, not just because son James and his family live there, but because over the years we've enjoyed so many interesting and fun visits to this historic region   When I think about it, the Borders are nearly as good as the Angus glens and the Braes of Angus which I walked with my father; but I've walked the Moorfoot Hills too.

In the 1950s, when I was at boarding school in Musselburgh we had an annual tramp in the hills every spring called The Grinds   Everyone had the day off schoolwork and we were bussed out to a remote spot far from the nearest village. Armed with compass, Ordnance Survey map and water bottles from the Cadet stores, and with a packed lunch to sustain us, we were given a map reference where to meet the buses to take us back to school.

There was a Junior, Middle and Senior Grind which became more challenging the older you were   We were expected to use our Cadet training in map reading to determine the best route back to the buses   It's probably a case of memories seen through rose tinted spectacles but I recall these days as invariably clear and sunny and windswept, and there was the pleasure of freedom and a day away from the daily discipline of school life.

Last weekend was spent with James and Harriet and the grandchildren   On Saturday everyone else had something to do and the dogs and I found ourselves on our own   I took them up onto the high grazings above the house   There's normally sheep on this part of the hill but they had been moved nearer the farm for the lambing so I was able to let the dogs run free.

It was sunny and breezy, and with the Pentland Hills to the west and the Moorfoots to the east I might have been on a Grind again   It's at times like these, with just the dogs for company, that I realise how much I appreciate the pleasure of solitude without being lonely.

It wasn't until a whaup (as Father always called them) or curlew's long, liquid bubbling call broke into my thoughts that I realised that all I had heard until then was the constant hum of traffic on the main road from Peebles to Edinburgh.

I leant for a while against a solitary tree which I couldn't recognise from its bark, and of course it's too early for leaves   Suddenly I was aware of the sustained, full throated melody of skylarks high above   I left the dogs to their own devices while their music showered over me.

We had the sharp  €œpheet, pheet € call-notes of meadow pipits and a peewit's plaintive cry for company on our way back down the hill again to the house.

Written on Saturday, April 2nd, 2011 at 9:36 am for Weekly.