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.

Generous Nature

July 9th, 2011

THE ABSENCE of butterflies becomes increasingly worrying for yet another year   I walk the dogs in a variety of locations from woodland to open fields, and riverside and seaside – the sorts of places where butterflies ought to flourish   But no longer, not even in the garden borders.

This past week I've seen only one Small Tortoiseshell   If it can't find another to mate with, its brief life will have been pointless other than for the few moments pleasure it gave me.

We grow nasturtiums each year, and each year they are devastated by what I believe are Small White butterfly caterpillars   Last year was no different but I don't recall seeing the butterflies around the garden which must have laid the eggs, and there's no evidence of them this year at a time when they should be flying.

At school we had a biology master who dismissed any question he couldn't answer, with –  €œSometimes we have to say, we just don't know €   I guess I fall into the same category and just have to say, I don't know.

Better news, however, from the bird table   At least one pair of siskins is feeding on the peanuts   It's mixed woodland where we live, including the pines which these attractive birds thrive on, and I had rather given up on them ever being tempted into the garden.

It's interesting that they are among our few native birds that don't appear to have any Scottish or regional nickname like, for instance, peasie or peesweep for the lapwing   But maybe readers can tell me otherwise.

The woodland harvest has started   Bottled elderflower cordial is in the store cupboard, but we lost out on the wild strawberries   The birds were a step ahead of us and stripped most of the berries just before they ripened, and we only managed to rescue a small picking to eat with melon   I didn't expect to find chanterelles last week   This is unusually early in my experience and I don't normally start to forage for them until about September.

The Doyenne and I spent a day at the Scottish Game Fair at Scone Palace last weekend   It's a chance to meet up with friends we're not in regular touch with, and a great showcase to introduce folk to our traditional countryside sports   It's impossible to get round the 300-plus trade stands but it's an indication of the variety of businesses that depend on the countryside for a livelihood.

We always head for the Food Hall to find some of the interesting and unusual foods that supermarkets don't usually stock   The temptation, of course, is impulse buying – encouraged by the stallholders!

It was a different matter altogether, naturally, buying a stick to replace the one I sat on and broke when we were on holiday   Otherwise we came out of it fairly well unscathed.

Written on Saturday, July 9th, 2011 at 11:07 am for Weekly.