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.

Crisp, clear days

November 30th, 2013

RECENT SUB-ZERO temperatures have heralded in some clear, sunny mornings, ideal for walking.

Macbeth seems to have mixed feelings about the weather this year. In past winters he has appeared to take on a new lease of life when the frosty weather comes – racing round Inka, snapping at his heels and giving him a run for his money.

He had his Christmas make-over and trim only a fortnight ago and perhaps he’s still feeling a bit chilly. I met a Border terrier last weekend wearing a rather fetching blue dog coat, and maybe we’ll have to think about one for Macbeth.

There’s heat in the sun provided you can manage a walk before lunchtime. After that the sun gets low in the sky, the temperature quickly drops and the frost is nipping at your toes and fingers.

I took the dogs down a farm track, looking for geese that I’d heard earlier. I found them feeding on the far side of a field of oilseed rape. They are wary birds and it doesn’t take much to alarm them and put them to flight. A hawthorn tree provided cover, breaking up my silhouette on the skyline.

Small packs of geese continued to fly in. They are complete masters of their aeronautical skills. I love watching them spilling out of the sky, whiffling the air out of their wings, twisting and banking like falling leaves to touch down, noisily exchanging greetings with their neighbours.

We were in a field between Fettercairn and Edzell. There were clear three hundred and sixty degree views all round and you can understand how Strathmore’s long, flat plain, stretching from Stonehaven to Perth, was ideal for the sites of so many Second World War airfields.

We weren’t far from the perimeter of Edzell airfield which got a second lease of life when the US Navy established a communications base there in the 1950s. From Fordoun in the north, there were airfields at Stracathro, Kinnell, Tealing, Methven, Findo Gask and doubtless several other places that I’ve forgotten. Flying training, training Polish squadrons, blind approach training, wireless training, target towing – most aspects of military flying were undertaken at one or other of these establishments.

I should mention Montrose aerodrome in the passing. It’s on the coastal plain and is notable because it was the first operational military airfield in the United Kingdom, established in1913 and celebrating its centenary. And Balado, outside Kinross, is now host to the T-in-the-Park music festival.

The Fleet Air Arm (FAA) was in on the act too. They identified their airfields with the names of many of our native birds. RNAS (Royal Naval Air Station) East Haven at Hatton Farm, just south of Arbroath, was commissioned as HMS Peewit, a reference to the flocks of the birds that overwintered there at the time. It was a training unit for aircraft carrier flying.

Neighbouring HMS Condor started life as another FAA training school, but is now RM Condor and home to 45 Commando Royal Marines. I try to avoid saying never when it comes to nature, but I hae my doots that they ever saw a condor, which is a large, S. American vulture, cruising into the fields around Colliston to escape the worst of winter in the Andes Mountains.

Inka had been raking around in the ditch and put up a single hen pheasant which headed off in the direction of Mosside Wood. Macbeth looked grumpy. I got the message and we turned back to the car.

There wasn’t a breath of wind. For some reason noise wasn’t travelling. I could see a tractor working just several fields away and couldn’t hear its engine.

Somewhere about Edzell black smoke rose vertically on the still air. Maybe someone’s lum had gone up or their chimney needed swept. Miles high above us, the vapour trail from a jet flying south hung motionless in the firmament, lit up by shafts of sunlight.

Clouds high in the sky often signal a memorable sunset and good weather to follow – red sky at night, and all that. There have been some powerful sunsets in recent evenings and the next morning the dogs and I have been out early to get the best of the day.

Written on Saturday, November 30th, 2013 at 10:09 am for Weekly.