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.

Say cheese

August 16th, 2014

THE FRENCH sending their students to Scotland to learn the art of cheese making is surely the ultimate accolade to Scottish cheese makers.

The Doyenne and I met Marie Aubert from Angers in the Maine-et-Loire Department of western France, selling Cambus O’May cheese at the Banchory Show. We got talking because we had holidayed in a country gîte, near Angers, owned by the local undertaker!

Marie is doing a placement at the Cambus O’May Creamery as part of an MSc. in agriculture and food production. She chose Scotland for her placement principally to learn Scottish cheese making, but to improve her English too. The opportunity to experience our culture and history and the romance of our landscape and castles helped influence her choice.

The meeting provided the ideal opportunity to see for myself how cheese is made. Last Tuesday I drove over Cairn o’ Mount to the creamery with my sister, who is visiting from the south, and hadn’t seen Deeside for years.

The story of Cambus O’May cheese making starts with Granny Barbara Reid of Gyratesmyre Farm near Fordoun, in Aberdeenshire, who like so many farmers’ wives of her generation made cheese for the family in the farm kitchen with milk from their own cows. Her first maturing room was an old railway carriage out in the farm steading.

Alex Reid, Barbara’s son, cherished a dream to recreate his mother’s cheese recipes and in 2009 he launched the Cambus O’May Cheese Company.

We were greeted at the Creamery by James Reid, Granny Barbara’s grandson, who introduced us to Scott Thomson, the lead cheese maker, who has been with the company from the beginning.

Marie and Scott explained the mysteries of cheesemaking. Hygiene regulations meant we couldn’t go into the factory itself, but James took us to the covered gallery to watch through the window.

At Cambus O’May it’s a hands-on, labour intensive process replicating so far as possible the farmhouse kitchen processes, such as muslin lining the cheese moulds, of seventy years ago. James describes their products as slow food – local food traditionally produced with care and passion as opposed to industrial food production.

Scotland is meeting all Marie’s expectations and she finds the practical experience she is gaining at Cambus O’May particularly valuable, and will have long term benefits in the management role she hopes to get when she graduates. Her particular interest while she is here is finding alternative uses for the whey. After the curd has been pressed about 85% is lost in liquid as whey, which is sold to a local pig farmer.

It’s a limited choice from Cambus O’May but that’s hardly an issue. They have concentrated on getting things right and it’s paid off with a Gold Medal at the British Cheese Awards in 2012 and a Silver Medal at the International Cheese Awards the same year for their Lochnagar recipe.

Their Old Reekie lightly smoked cheddar is smoked on site with oak chippings from the Speyside Cooperage. Developing the whisky concept, they will be bringing a whisky cheese to the market soon.

And now, a cautionary tale. At this time of year, late summer, the flower nectar that wasps feed on starts to decline and the wasps have to forage amongst the hedgerow fruits.

The Doyenne has pronounced that I don’t bring her any more wild raspberries, but there are still late berries to be found on the bushes. I like their bitter-sweet taste and pick them when I’m out with Inka and Macbeth.

Don’t ask me how I did it, because I wouldn’t have done if I knew, but I picked a rasp with a feeding wasp attached and popped them both in my mouth. The wasp, not unnaturally, was a bit peeved and stung me on the inside of my lip.

So the message from the bridge today is, if you’re picking wild raspberries be sure there isn’t a wild wasp hanging from any of them. And don’t stick it in your mouth if there is.

My father used to pontificate, somewhat sanctimoniously, that pain is relative. Be that as it may, if he was around today I should leave him in no doubt that a wasp sting inside the mouth is still blooming painful.

Written on Saturday, August 16th, 2014 at 8:14 am for Weekly.