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.

A fishy tale

April 13th, 2013

A GOOSE egg for my breakfast sparked off memories. It must have been near on three score years since I’d last tasted one.

I used to accompany my father visiting a farmer friend and sometimes we stayed for tea. Father and our host would have several drams before we sat down, and we certainly never left without the two of them downing several more afterwards. So far as I can remember after all this time, I drank ginger beer!

Occasionally, on these visits, I got a boiled goose egg for my tea which, even for a hungry youngster, was a meal in itself. When I saw goose eggs on the counter in the Fettercairn village shop – the Fettery Shoppe – you might say I was powerless to resist.

So that we could share the treat, the Doyenne made it into scrambled eggs.

Not surprisingly, the shell is tougher than a hen’s egg and she reckoned that the large yolk was equal to about three hens’ yolks. The yolk is thick and viscous and stuck to the fork as she whisked it, so she changed to a proper whisk.

Proportionately there’s more yolk to white than in three hens’ eggs, which she would normally use for the two of us, and the scramblies cooked to a deeper colour and had a richer taste.

For seven years, from 1949, our family holidayed near Ullapool on Leckmelm Farm some three miles south of the village.

Father parked our caravan on the side of Loch Broom, beside the pier that had served Leckmelm Estate in its glory days. We were there for a month and I was free to roam wherever I wanted.

A memory from those distant days surfaced recently. I was standing on the old pier; the tide was full and the sea flat calm in that moment of hesitancy before the tide turns and starts to ebb.

I was puzzled to see hundreds of small fish leaping out of the water. I could see the shadow of the shoal beneath the surface moving towards the shore. In their panic the fry were leaping onto the shore itself.

Ian Macdonald, the gamekeeper, explained the phenomenon to me. The fish were herring fry, about the size of whitebait, escaping from mackerel which had driven them up the loch, feeding on them all the way. What I had seen was quite unusual because it normally happens out at sea. I doubted if I’d see anything like it again – but as events turned out, I think I did.

The dogs and I were on one of our regular visits to the wee loch. I settled myself in my favourite spot at the foot of the big beech tree.

I can’t say the water in front of me began to boil but small fish were leaping in apparent panic from some danger below the surface. It lasted about a minute and began again twenty feet away. Three times it happened.

The loch used to be stocked with rainbow trout but fishing stopped several years ago because they all seemed to have died off. Perhaps a few survived which have grown into cannibalistic monsters preying on minnows and sticklebacks which withdraw to deep water in the winter to avoid being frozen in the shallows.

A dorsal fin breaking the surface or a bow wave from a surface cruising predator would have provided some answers. As it is I have to fall back on my experience on the side of Loch Broom and hope I’m drawing intelligent conclusions from what I saw.

I can’t think that I’ve seen so many black headed gulls up there as there are just now. Actually they’re not black headed – the feathers are dark chocolate. They come inland anyhow at this time of year to nest and perhaps the coorse winds blowing in from the east have driven them to seek the relative shelter provided by the woods round the loch.

They’ll soon disperse to their nesting spots in the sand quarries off the Lang Stracht. But they are squally, noisy birds and for the time being there’s something of a them-and-us atmosphere up there with the gulls at one end of the loch and everything else at the other.

Written on Saturday, April 13th, 2013 at 5:53 pm for Weekly.