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.

That icy wind

March 30th, 2013

YOU CAN’T hold on to time, everything comes to an end and for the folk of Glenesk and Edzell a final page has turned.

Mrs Joan Gordon has achieved international fame with her ginger bread and shortbread. There will be an army of sweet-toothed devotees like us who are in despair at hearing the news that “Mrs Gordon is giving up”.

A cookery book given by her father-in-law has the recipe for what the Rev. John Forbes, then Minister of the Glens at Edzell, described in a sermon as ‘the famous gingerbread’.

It all started in 1978. Joan’s husband Henry was gardener at Invermark Lodge, at the head of Glenesk, and with her family growing up she looked for something to fill her time.

She began baking for charity and I well remember Sunday walks to Lochlee with our own family, passing their cottage and popping into the garage where trays of cakes were laid out.

Payment was into an honesty box. It was never abused. Indeed the opposite was the case and, because the proceeds were for charity, as often as not there was more in the box than expected.

Her cottage industry expanded into the Tarfside village shop which she ran for nine years. The Whitson family spent Easters at St Drostan’s Lodge next door to the church on the edge of the village, and the Tarfie shop was an absolute life-saver. The alternative was a fifteen mile drive down the glen to Edzell, which could mean an expensive loaf of bread or pint of milk.

Visitors to the glen, walkers, fishers, bikers all relied on her shop. She won Village Shop of the Year Award in 1994, coming first in Scotland and third in the UK.

She and Henry moved to Edzell but, never one to be idle, she continued baking her famous ginger bread and shortbread which were sold through local shops. And they were sent, too, to Canada and Australia and all over the world.

She and Henry are moving south, to Chester, to be near their family. Edzell’s loss is Chester’s gain. Not that she’ll be baking on a commercial scale again but the grandchildren have made it clear she’ll need to bake for school and other social events.

When I visited them I got a fair hint that Henry is particularly partial to her

Out with the dogs these past days the arctic wind has been a tiresome companion. Not that it’s affected the dogs – and it’s kept me on the move, no dawdling and admiring the scenery.

The winter of 2010, you’ll remember, was as wearisome and cold as this one. I bought myself an Edwardian-style, Toad of Toad Hall driving cap – Poop, Poop – which has been a godsend. There’s a flap to protect my neck and two lugs that tie beneath my chin and keep my ears warm. In fine weather they fold up and are secured on top of the cap with a couple of poppers.

In this weather the wildlife likes to be cosy just like ourselves. Tree roosting birds like pheasants seek shelter at night from the west wind, which is our prevailing wind.

The icy winds which we’ve all had to endure have been coming out of the east, unsettling their usual arrangements, and the birds have sought out alternative warm roosts.

Walking through woods with the dogs I disturbed roosting pheasants where I’ve hardly seen any before. A couple of cock birds on the periphery started their klokking warning calls which were quickly taken up all round us.

Pheasants were clattering in all directions out of the high branches. For a while there was pandemonium and if I said I heard a couple of hundred, I could be right. If I said double that I could be right too.

It was early dusk and there was enough light for the birds to see to fly. Some would likely have returned, others will have settled where they landed in other trees.

Outside No. 63, the coffee shop and florist in Edzell High Street, a dog’s bowl is kept filled with fresh water. It’s good to know that dogs won’t go thirsty while their owners are inside lingering over a bun and a cup of coffee.

Written on Saturday, March 30th, 2013 at 9:39 pm for Weekly.