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.

Science finds, industry applies, man conforms

June 21st, 2008

A MOWBOT sounds as though it might be faintly vulgar, but in fact it is the brand name of a robot motor mower. I was bidden by a friend who received one for his birthday, no doubt in recognition of his advancing years and waning enthusiasm for cutting the grass, to go and see his new toy in action.

About the size of a case of wine the little machine takes all the effort and tedium, mental as well as physical, out of one of summer's most boring garden chores. Powered by two rechargeable batteries, it wanders apparently at random across the lawn in response to signals from a wire buried round the edge of the grass.

The Mowbot has its own inbuilt computer and is programmed to start work every morning at 11am and continue unattended until 5pm. Its owner has built it its own little kennel (which is rather sweet!) and in the event of heavy rain two sensors on top of the lid direct it back to the refuge of its wee shelter.

Because it comes out to work every day the miniscule shaving which it cuts is mulched, so there's no worry about emptying a grass-catcher. You can leave home at ten o'clock and return after six confident that the grass has been cut. It's like having a dog which never makes a mess and doesn't need training! It provided quite one of the best excuses for sitting drinking tea – the sun had not passed the yardarm, so it was too early for gin and tonic – that I have come across for a long time.

It was not the first time my host has been dazzled by the appliance of science. The Doyenne and I used to go sailing with him and his Doyenne on the west coast. The favourite piece of equipment on the boat was the electronic tiller pilot which steered the boat automatically, leaving both hands free to pour gin and tonic. This cunning little appliance was known as Komrade Pistoff which I suspect was a pun based on the fact that it was powered by a pistON. I know, it's a joke in the worst possible taste, but then most puns are.

Big boys with big toys don't restrict themselves to garden and nautical gadgetry. A neighbour has discovered remote controlled helicopters. He didn't quite master the controls to begin with and £40-worth of toy got stuck up a tall tree. Undismayed he dashed out to buy a bigger, shinier model costing £250 which I fear may get stuck up an even taller tree.

I suppose these things affect you like a drug. He'll have to have every new model and every gizmo that goes with it until one day he loses touch with reality. And I'll probably have to climb the tree to recover his helicopter.