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.

Fringed with gold

July 20th, 2013

‘A BEGGAR’S mantle fringed with gold’ – that was James VI’s description of the Kingdom of Fife. The fringe he referred to was the Fife coastline with its string of fishing villages and trading ports – still, today, jewel-like reminders of their prosperous past and monuments to generations of fisher folk and mariners.

The beggar’s mantle described the ragged coastline, wonderfully worn and sculptured by the sea and winds. And the beggar? – worthy King James himself, perhaps.

This outburst of historical whimsy was kindled as the Doyenne and I returned from a wonderful cello recital by Alice Neary at the Woodend Barn in Banchory. As we neared the cairn on Cairn o’ Mount summit the Doyenne looked back and told me to stop and take a look myself.

Banks of cloud – a beggar’s mantle in the evening sky – were illuminated by the setting sun behind them, outlined with a molten fringe of raw light. A blink of the eye and it receded, its golden intensity dwindling. Soon gone – as if it had never been. Sunsets are such fleeting expressions of nature’s glory.

It was only when I sat down at the keyboard to start this week’s piece that I found the words and I’m grateful to the good king for being able to plagiarise his sentiments.

Last thing, the dogs and I take the same walk before bed. The last few nights have been filled with the spicy, aromatic scent of honeysuckle growing in the beech hedges. Regular readers will know that it’s my most romantic scent, and I’ve been cutting bunches from the roadside to take home to the Doyenne.

The summer is developing into one of grand statements as the pent up energy of the late spring erupts into growth.

Ox-eye daisies competing with the grain in the barley fields, frothy meadowsweet along the roadside ditches – an infusion of the flowers is supposed to be as good as aspirin for headaches. Banks of rose-bay willow-herb whose wind-blown seeds on feathery sails rapidly colonise forest clearances. It’s a bonny sight in full bloom but it’s an invasive weed and a nightmare for gardeners.

Look out for foxgloves, amongst our handsomest native wild flowers, which also flourish in woodland clearances – mostly pink, sometimes white and very occasionally I come across a yellow flowering one. And the Angus glens are looking well, too. The bell heather is at its blooming best.

In this weather there’s nothing so refreshing as a long glass of the Doyenne’s homemade elderflower cordial. The bushes are just bursting with large florets of white blossom. I picked some from bushes at the back of Fasque estate and now I’m drinking her first brew. I predict a busy foraging season ahead of us.

As I’m writing this I’m watching Inka gazing, unblinking, through the slats of the wooden fence at a rabbit on the other side. The rabbit realised long ago that Inka can’t get through the fence and that it is perfectly safe. It sits there, like Uncle Remus’s Brer Rabbit, washing its paws and tormenting the dog.

I watch the birds coming to the feeders. There are still a number of sparrow chicks, in particular, expecting to be fed by their parents. They seem well fledged, flying strongly and their beaks look fully developed, but they sit on the fence flapping their wings to attract the parents and squalling for food.

Our road home road from Banchory to Fettercairn crosses the River Feugh at Strachan and a mile further on, just after crossing the Water of Dye, a finger post directs you to Bogendreip. You know you can only be in Aberdeenshire when you see a place name like that.

Our ancestors were very creative in naming places to reflect their physical characteristics. At Migvie, also in Aberdeenshire, there are two farms called Coldhome and Hardgate. It tells you everything about the nature of the landscape and the kind of toiling lives that the families who worked the land there a hundred years ago, led.

There must have been a grim satisfaction in naming your home like Cold Comfort Farm. A determination to take the elements head on and shake your fist at life’s adversities.

Goodness knows what the derivation of Bogendreip is but it doesn’t sound cosy!

Written on Saturday, July 20th, 2013 at 2:19 pm for Weekly.