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.

Mystery of words

July 2nd, 2011

RAW COURAGE in wild animals can be impressive and touching at the same time   The dogs were bowling on ahead of me along the side of a burn (for once Macbeth wasn't trailing behind looking for revolting things to eat which make him ill) and there was a tremendous commotion of splashing and urgent duck calls.

A mallard duck came flapping back towards us, beating the water with her wings as if injured and unable to get airborne   Meantime her ducklings, too young to fly and squeaking with fright, scooted off upstream as fast as their wee, fledgling wings would take them.

About four feet from him the mother duck stopped and faced up to Inka, still flapping her wings and calling all the while to her young   It was intended to divert Inka's attention away from the ducklings and she didn't fly off until she was confident they were safe.

Such selfless behaviour isn't mother love in any human sense, but is certainly brave and demonstrates the lengths wild animals will go to, to protect their offspring and ensure continuation of their species.

The walk through the Blue Door near Edzell from the Gannochy Bridge to the Rocks of Solitude, which must be one of the most popular in the county, got a bit of a facelift over the winter   A team of foresters cut back the old rhododendrons which had self-seeded for decades along the bank of the River North Esk creating a green wilderness which quite blocked the river from view in some places.

It has transformed the riverbank, letting in light, and you can see the river now which, after all, is the main feature of the walk   It's early days yet to see what will grow up in place of the shrubs but this time next year I'll be looking out for the rosy-purple bells of foxgloves, which often appear in large numbers where woods have been cleared, flourishing in amongst the new growth.

The North Esk is more than a physical boundary between the counties of Angus and Aberdeenshire   There's a tricky matter of translation when you cross the Gannochy Bridge, as I found when I was eating bannocks in the company of a lady who lived for a time in New Deer in north Aberdeenshire   At least I thought they were bannocks until she corrected me, telling me we were eating  €œbreid € – which is the name they give them in those northern airts.

It's not the first time I've encountered these linguistic differences   In Laurencekirk, for instance, bannocks are pancakes   And in Portsoy butteries are roweys, but they are rowleys in Portknockie scarcely eight miles along the coast   So if you get flustered when you're next in an Aberdeenshire baker's shop, maybe it's easier just to point to what you want and say  €œI'll take some of those €!

Written on Saturday, July 2nd, 2011 at 11:04 am for Weekly.