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.

Recycling the biker!

November 25th, 2006

THERE'S NO denying now that winter's on its way. We've woken up to the first morning with frost on the cars and having to run them for some minutes to let the heaters clear the windows.

Perhaps it's time I tried out my new bike and worked up a bit of a healthy glow. A thoughtful minister's wife gave it to me because it was excess to her family's needs. The offer seemed a grand chance to improve my fitness and enjoy some added togetherness with the grandchildren when they come to visit. I'm not so certain now.

I can't think when I last took to the high roads on a bicycle. Like swimming, riding a bike is something you don't forget, but you certainly get rusty.

I pumped up the tyres, and tested the brakes. With a foot on one pedal and giving myself several pushes with the other foot to get moving, I swung my leg resolutely over the saddle. After the initial wobbles, and much wild correcting with the handlebars, I was off.

My first reaction was that they surely made bicycle seats a lot comfier in the past. I seemed to be sitting on a very narrow plank which was reminding me of parts of me that hadn't seemed important for some time. And where was the Sturmey-Archer 3-speed gear change? This bike has 7 gears, which is nearly rocket science – and I'm not ready for that.

I rather thought that walking two dogs every day, as I do, my legs would be in good shape for pedalling. Not so – the muscles may be in great shape for walking, but you use them in a totally different way when cycling and I was soon toiling up even the slightest incline.

Could another problem be that my centre of gravity seems to have slipped southwards rather alarmingly? A neighbour who has had both hips replaced is just a blur on the horizon as he races round the countryside, so there has to be hope for me.

As I lurched off up the drive the dogs sat down in baffled horror at what the beloved master was up to this time. I was away for six or seven minutes and when I got back they were both still sitting, stunned, where I had left them.

So, if you are driving between Brechin and Edzell and see a figure on a push bike, wavering uncertainly across the road, give him a wide berth. It may be me – and I shouldn't have been let out unaccompanied until the grandchildren have given me a few lessons on road safety.

Despite the frosty nights and approaching winter there are flowers on the wild strawberries planted in the old troughs at the front door. It's all getting topsy-turvy. I don't expect to see them until May.