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.

Sea Harvest

October 29th, 2011

“THE RAIN it raineth every day”, as Will Shakespeare’s clown sings in Twelfth Night.

That’s much how it seemed when the Doyenne and I were on holiday at Loch Melfort on the west coast the week before last. It’s a part we know well and have visited often and there have been years when we’ve enjoyed a week of endless sunshine, so we can’t complain if once in a while the weather lets us down.

It was never so bad that we couldn’t get out to walk dogs. Not that it would have mattered because, in the event, dogs have to be walked. Inka couldn’t care less about the state of the weather – he just has to have his regular three quarters of an hour’s exercise at the very least to work off his energy.

Historically, Labradors are sea dogs. Their story is that they were bred originally by the fishermen, not of Labrador (as you might expect) on Canada’s east coast, but of neighbouring Newfoundland and they accompanied their masters to sea. So water rolls off a Labrador’s thick, waterproof coat just like it rolls off a duck’s back.

Being somewhat lower-slung Macbeth trailed through all the puddles and then trailed the gutters through the house. He only dried off properly after an evening toasting in front of the fire and ending up looking like a demented ball of string, as the Doyenne once famously described him.

There’s something reassuring about being in familiar territory, especially when the weather’s bad. You don’t have to hunt for entertainment because you’ve been everywhere already. Knowing the best places to shop saves a lot of trial and error and means we eat as well on holiday as we do at home.

This year we discovered Barbreck Farm Shop which rears and butchers its own meat on the farm. We bought man-sized gigot chops and rolled pork for supper and home-made black pudding for fat boy’s breakfasts!

Murray’s smoke house at Ford, near Lochgilphead, produces delicious smoked salmon, maybe not as good as the piece of wild smoked salmon we took away with us, but very tasty nonetheless.

It’s always worth the hundred mile plus round trip to Tarbert to visit Johnson the fishmongers, tucked away up a close up a side street where you’d least expect to find such a busy shop.

We bought scallops, and sea bass and haddock so fresh they were almost still flapping on the slab, for a gourmet fishy supper; and juicy Loch Fyne kippers for another of those breakfasts.

We made a day of it coming back via West Loch Tarbert, across the bottom of the North Kintyre peninsula, up past the mediaeval sculptured stones at Kilberry, along the shores of Loch Caolisport and rejoining the A83 below Ardrishaig for the last few miles back to the cottage.

Written on Saturday, October 29th, 2011 at 2:18 pm for Weekly.