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 quiet moment

July 5th, 2014

A SECRET pond is tucked away amongst trees between Fettercairn and Laurencekirk. I had never guessed it was there – which is why it is secret, of course. I spent Tuesday morning exploring its banks and sitting peacefully, supping up the sunshine.

I didn’t take the dogs – they can be a bit intrusive. Inka doesn’t do quiet – even now he still takes life more or less at a gallop. Macbeth has reached an age when he gets disorientated in strange places and blunders noisily about finding his way out of the undergrowth.

Because it is secret and undisturbed, its wildlife is relatively trusting. I didn’t notice the heron tucked into the reeds below me. The heron likely hoped I’d just pass by, but I was in no hurry and, anyway, I didn’t know it was there.

Eventually discretion proved the better part of valour and the bird could stand it no longer. His slow, deliberate flight, long legs trailing behind him, seemed almost lazy but the wing beats are deceptively powerful and he easily cleared the overhanging branches and was quickly out of view. I’ve been told it’s a favourite breeding pond for the local frogs and I’d probably interrupted the heron’s lunch.

It was so secluded amongst the trees and I was in my own little world. I found a comfy spot to sit and look and listen. There were moments when it was so completely still the noisiest thing was me eating my apple. Then the sounds of everyday living, traffic and farm machinery, intruded.

A woodpigeon, drugged with the heat of the sun, set up its contented, drowsy crooning – croooo-coo, coo-coo, cooo – as it digested its breakfast, probably clover at this time of year.

From the deep fringe of reeds came a single deep croak – kurruk. I knew it instantly, it was a waterhen. I hadn’t heard one for ages but I could never forget it.

When we lived at The Kirklands, the old manse at Logie Pert, the Gallery Burn ran through the garden and at least one pair of waterhens nested on its banks each spring. For their size they have a surprisingly loud and carrying call and they would wake us in the middle of the night.

A field mouse popped out of the dyke. Understandably horrified when it saw me, it dashed into the protective undergrowth on the other side of the track. Bumble bees were busy collecting nectar from the bushy heads of melancholy thistles, their probosces thrust deep into the purple flowers, feasting on the sweet nourishment. It was good to see such numbers and to hear the sound of their activity all round me.

For a relatively small site there’s an interesting variety of trees, especially those favouring damp areas and scrubland. A willow hangs over the water and there are geans with fruit close to ripening, rowans, birch, elder, aspen, hawthorn, and hazel. There’s dogwood and spindleberry, which sound like names from a Shakespeare play, which are not very common round here.

I was in time to catch the last of the yellow flags that flower round the edges. The bulrushes were past their best but ox-eye daisies, wild roses, white frothy heads of meadowsweet, clumps of what I think must be water forget-me-not (I didn’t have my wellies but it is growing in the water) and wood forget-me-not, and a small patch of purple marsh orchids down near the waterside provided delightful splashes of colour.

Everyone should have mornings like my secret pond morning. Too often we count our days in minutes instead of hours. Life is too precious to let it fly past with so little reflection.

We need to take a step back and manage the pace of our lives and not let it become the elephant in the room we won’t face up to. Walk away from insistent e-mails demanding answers now, escape from the tyranny of the mobile phone.

When I take the dogs out last thing before bed the damp night air is filled with the romantic scent of honeysuckle growing through the beech hedges. It’s a delicious memory to go to sleep with. It won’t last.

But I always have the memory.

Written on Saturday, July 5th, 2014 at 9:43 am for Weekly.