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.

Purple and fine linen

July 23rd, 2011

LUTHERMUIR WEEDS!   We were standing in a Luthermuir garden at the time and doubtless it could have done with a bit of redd up, but it didn't look too bad   It turned out I'd been over-hasty in decrying our host's gardening skills for he was pointing to the tall teazles growing at his front door.

Luthermuir has its place in local history as a centre of the linen weaving trade, which at its height employed more than 200 weavers working from home on traditional Jacquard hand looms.

Willie Taylor was the last of the Luthermuir handloom weavers, known as the Lournie Weavers – Lournie being a local nickname for Laurencekirk where weaving used also to be a major employer   The Doyenne and I visited him in his weaving shed at the side of his cottage   It was small and dusty, lit by a single naked electric bulb and heated by an old iron stove, but from it he sent the most beautiful damask table linen all over the world.

Teazles were used in the finishing process of linen production and each weaver grew his own supply in their cottage gardens – hence the origin of Luthermuir weeds.

They'll soon be in flower – their large conical heads changing from pale green to thistle purple   The heads dry out and the petals wither leaving hooked prickles like one half of a piece of Velcro, which was the part used in linen production   Nowadays the dead, dry stems are much in demand by flower arrangers.

Next we inspected our host's Korean pine which is a low, bushy conifer planted for ornamental purposes   As it happens he owns Macbeth's sister Rosie, who was also looking a bit low and bushy – but she was going to be clipped the following day, which would restore her good looks   Macbeth was clipped just on Tuesday and is still looking good enough to grace the lid of any chocolate box.

Out with the dogs I had earlier found several large barrel-shaped cones on the drive, which had blown off a Noble Fir   These North American trees are another species introduced to Scotland by the Victorian collectors for ornament   I brought a cone home and it weighed three-quarters of a pound   They must be very nutritious because several others had been stripped clean of their cone scales by the squirrels.

Somehow the conversation drifted round to moles which, we were told, are very fastidious about keeping their thick fur clean   A method to rid your garden of them if you're squeamish about killing them is to pour an eggcup-full of diesel into their run   They won't want to pass through the oily earth and gum up their fur, and will desert that run and find another place to tunnel and throw up their molehills – and irritate your neighbour into the bargain!

Written on Saturday, July 23rd, 2011 at 9:16 am for Weekly.