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.

Old, familiar names

April 26th, 2014

A BOOK coming up for auction locally caught my attention. Seton Gordon (1886-1977) was a pioneer naturalist and wildlife photographer with a lifelong interest in the wild parts of Scotland and an abiding passion for our native Golden Eagle. His skills as a professional writer, lecturer and journalist developed through his awareness and love of his environment. It was said of him that he was an ecologist before the term was ever coined.

Seton Gordon wrote some thirty books about the landscape, wildlife, history and traditions of the Scottish Highlands, especially the Cairngorms and Skye, illustrating them with his own and his wife’s photographs. His writing, described as poetic prose, never lost his young man’s enthusiasm.

As if to emphasise his Scottishness he had a preference for wearing the kilt, just like my own father, and was an accomplished player and judge of the pipes.

The book being auctioned was a first edition of The Land of The Hills and The Glens, published in 1920. It’s one of two of his books that I own, and my copy is a first edition too. The guide price for bidding was £50-£70 which was very satisfactory, but it’s the contents that are the true value.

A member of the audience spoke to me after a recent talk I’d given and described Seton Gordon as the gold standard of Scottish wildlife writers. We agreed that he observed and wrote with such a true professional’s ability and, while his style is very much of his generation which dates it, he has inspired many writers who have followed him.

The most mundane things can revive old memories. I touched the sticky buds on a horse chestnut tree and it took me back to walks with an uncle along a road behind Glencorse Barracks, near Penicuik, which was lined with conker trees. We went again in the autumn to look for the conkers to take back to my prep. school for conker fights.

Green leaves shot through with a tinge of red are appearing on the sycamore trees. Their clusters of greenish-yellow flowers will develop into the familiar winged seeds that litter the woodland floor in early autumn.

Walking up the riverbank of the North Esk from Inveriscandye Farm, below Edzell, I saw my first butterflies of the season – a Peacock and three Small Whites.

Over the years in this column I’ve written about words and expressions that have fallen out of daily use or are in danger of being lost. Some local place names have disappeared too.

Aigle was the old name for Edzell and it’s been many years since I’ve heard it. An old neighbour when we lived at Logie Pert always planted several dreels of what he called Aigle, or Edzell Blue potatoes which are a floury potato that goes well in a thick soup like hare soup. You hardly see them nowadays probably because they are a small potato and not a heavy cropper.

I was surprised to hear a man say he was going to Lournie for a message. Lournie was the old name for Laurencekirk and I‘d not heard it used in everyday conversation before. It explains the name of the local fish and chip shop, the Lournie Chipper. I’m pleased to think that the name hasn’t been totally consigned to the history books.

Dog walking as much as I do, good footwear is essential. After five years of hard wear I’ve just renewed a pair of the comfiest walking shoes I’ve ever owned. Just like the original pair, the moment I put on the new ones they felt as though I’d been wearing them for months.

After completing his service with 45 Commando at Arbroath, Chick Grant, born and raised in Montrose, started the specialist outdoor clothing shop Outdoor Action Scotland in Arbroath High Street. As a former Royal Marine he understands the need for proper clothing and gear for country activities for anything from a walk in the park to climbing in the Cairngorms.

He had the answer too for the Doyenne who couldn’t find walking shoes that gave her proper support. I wouldn’t go so far as to say she frisks about like a newborn lamb but walks in the country are looked forward to.

Written on Saturday, April 26th, 2014 at 9:31 pm for Weekly.