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.

Autumn shades

October 20th, 2012

MONDAY DAWNED bright and sunny and I allowed myself the indulgence of hoping it was the debut to an Indian summer. What could have been more welcome after the previous week’s torrential rain?

I had business round the county and my first calls were in Montrose where I grew up and which I identify strongly with as my home town.

“I remember, I remember, / The house where I was born, / The little window where the sun / Came peeping in at morn.” – lines written by humorist and poet Thomas Hood (1799-1845) whose family farmed at Errol, near Dundee although he was born in London.

Actually I was born at Dundee, in Fernbrae Nursing Home, so it’s scarcely any wonder I’ve no memory of the sun peeping in any little window there. But until I was sixteen we lived at 32 The Mall in Montrose where I had an east facing bedroom and I certainly remember the early morning sun streaming in that window.

To Forfar next, by a road that became second nature for a time when I was a young solicitor in Montrose in the 1960s and 1970s and travelled regularly to plead the cause of clients in Forfar Sheriff Court. I was usually running late and in too much of a tearing hurry to pay much attention to the views, but it’s a bonny road when you have time to enjoy it.

The sun picked up the harvest colours; stately clouds processed across the sky and, off to the west, the distant hills fringing the Howe of Strathmore stood out boldly in the harvest light. There was heat in the sun and the temptation to think we really might be in for an Indian summer grew.

A favourite drive home is the Aberlemno road from Forfar to Brechin. At Aberlemno village it passes the road end for the farm and castle of Flemington, the title of my literary heroine Violet Jacob’s locally-based tragic historical novel of the 1745 Jacobite Uprising.

The Aberlemno carved Pictish stones have been boxed up until springtime, as they are each year, against damage from the winter frosts; a sure sign that autumn is chappin’ at the door.

The road climbs out of the village, along the side of appropriately named Angus Hill. There’s a lay-by where I often stop to sup up the view. Below in the valley the River South Esk winds round by Balgarrock and Balglassie where my father was the shooting tenant in the 1930s.

Combining is finished now and the fading yellow stubbles are being ploughed in readiness for next year’s oil seed rape and winter barley crops.

Back home for a late lunch of the Doyenne’s sustaining home-made soup, a mainstay of my winters, which set me up for a favourite walk with the dogs along the bank of the River North Esk at Inveriscandye Farm.

By the time we got out the sun was low in the sky and the day had lost its warmth. Macbeth likes this walk because it’s flat and grassy and the going is easy for a dog with short, sawn-off legs. There was a smirr of rain and a rainbow appeared briefly on the other side of the river.

I had to keep Inka out of the river for fear of spoiling the sport of a fisherman standing up to his waist in the water, casting a long line for a salmon.

I could tell he’d been out since early hours and had a blank day. A fish rose fifty yards below him, galvanising him into a last despairing surge of activity of whirling rod and buzzing flees as he sought to cover every inch of water in his efforts to capture the wild prey.

An anguished cry fell from his lips; he’d touched the fish but lost it almost immediately. I’ve heard the same sort of thing time and again from distracted anglers who don’t want to believe they’ve thrashed the water all day and that was the only tickle they had.

Anyway, it looked like it was only a wee autumn grilse and probably wouldn’t have topped five pounds on the scales. It was better left for another season.

And on Tuesday the rain came down again in stair rods.

Written on Saturday, October 20th, 2012 at 8:26 pm for Weekly.