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.

The Lycra Lads

December 1st, 2012

LYCRA MUST be the look for all ages. I was minding my own business in Fettercairn when I was swamped by a sea of septuagenarian Lycrans wearing Darth Vader helmets, taking a well-earned breather from their cycle ride.

Starting from Forfar they’d cycled via Aberlemno, Brechin and Trinity, turned right at Templewood and along to the top of Pert Brae, zipped down to the bottom of the brae, crossed the A90 at the Upper Northwaterbridge, then along to the end of the Lang Stracht where they turned right to Fettery.

For the return leg they cycled to Edzell, turned right at the Tweedie, over Dunlappie Bridge, past the Caterthuns road end, past Noranside and Fern, along to Hornie’s Cross and back to Forfar – a total of 47 miles.

And what was the age of these freewheeling Lycra Lads? The oldest was 80 and the rest were “hovering around the seventy mark”, as I was informed. I also learned that cycling is kinder on the body than walking because walking jars the body with every step, but cycling is a smooth journey.

The dogs and I have given it all some thought and we’re agreed that there’s no need for this sort of behaviour at an age when folk should know better – we’ll just jump in the car as usual, thank you very much!

The Doyenne called me from her car as she drove home in the evening to tell me she was looking at a rainbow in the night sky. Lunar rainbows are pretty unusual and require a combination of very dark skies, a full moon and a shower of rain.

Because moonlight is much weaker than sunlight moonbows are much fainter than rainbows, and ethereal was just how the Doyenne described it. So, there was a first for her because I’ve never seen one.

Grey geese, which include Pinkfooted, Greylag, Bean and Whitefronted geese, is the collective description for the breeds of geese which over-winter here when their summer nesting grounds in Greenland and Iceland become snowbound. They migrate south to escape the harsh weather, attracted by the easy feeding of our estuaries and farmland.

Most common in the north-east of Scotland are the Greylag and Pinkfeet which arrive in large numbers each autumn at the Montrose Basin, roosting and preening on the mud flats – a wash and brush-up, as a now long-gone Montrose GP described it.

They flight inland to feed on the stubble fields and winter wheat and barley crops where the pinkfeet, in particular, can cause a great deal of damage as they don’t just crop the green shoots but pull out the whole plant when they are grazing.

About half past three last Saturday, early dusk as it is at this time of year, and the dogs and I were walking through the field to the wee loch near the house. Seven greylag geese flew over us at about roof height, honking discreetly – something I didn’t expect from such wary birds in open ground with two dogs running about my feet.

They cleared the top of the line of dead pine trees whose roots drowned long ago when the level of the loch must have risen, and banked sharply to land beside the half-frozen loch. The resident mallard duck set up a great din of welcome and the geese responded with their grunting honk which isn’t quite as shrill as the pinkfoots’ call. I called the dogs back to leave the birds in peace.

The temperature had scarcely risen all day and by mid-afternoon the wind had dropped away and the frost had taken a grip again. It felt quite ghostly walking through the birch trees. Every noise was intensified in the spooky stillness and when I nagged at Macbeth, as usual dawdling behind at his own pace, my voice sounded improbably loud, as if it might carry to the far ends of the wood.

Cock pheasants were klokking away to each other as they settled down for the night in the lee of a nice warm tree. Somewhere at the far side of the wood a pair of blackbirds were quarrelling loudly.

Meantime the tips of my nose and my ears were nipping in the frosty conditions and I was pleased to get indoors again.

Written on Saturday, December 1st, 2012 at 7:50 pm for Weekly.