Don Your Way column: Get on your bike to discover Doncaster's hidden delights
I recently treated myself to a brand new plaything.
It is a fair few years since I owned my very own bicycle, but a few weeks back, I made the decision to purchase myself a new set of wheels.
But the seeds of my buy were sown a fair few months back before that.
Let me explain - and also why biking has given me a new lease of life and a fresh perspective on Doncaster.
After a relationship break-up last year, I occupied my mind by throwing myself into fitness and signed up with Doncaster Rovers’ Fit Rovers scheme where I was able to borrow a bike - and rediscover my love of two wheels, the open road and an activity that I hadn’t really done since being a paper boy as a teenager.
However, no sooner had I started before I was struck down by a series of health issues including a horrible and nasty long-lasting chest infection which laid me low. Then came the Beast from the East and the bike lay gathering dust.
After sweating and sizzling through the summer heatwave and being sapped of energy with daily commutes on baking, sauna-like trains and being too tired to put one foot in front of the other, I decided that enough was enough and that it was time to get back to biking.
Which brings us to now.
Most nights after work, I get home, quickly get changed and head out - and it feels great.
The wind in your hair, the silence and solitude to put the worries of the working day behind you but more interestingly, discovering bits of Doncaster you never knew existed.
When you are moving at a slower pace than when behind the wheel of your car, you start to spot things you’ve never seen before. Paths and bridleways, roads that lead off to villages and hamlets you’ve never, ever set foot in before.
There’s nothing better than travelling along a well-trodden path and suddenly swinging left or right into some dusty side road or lane and seeing where it takes you.
I’ve discovered some truly remarkable peaceful and tranquil parts of Doncaster that I’ve never ever clapped eyes on - and in my 45 years on this earth, I thought I knew pretty much everything there was to know about my home town.
All of a sudden, you realise a path that you’ve driven past a million times is actually a route connecting up to a village several miles away - only you’ve been taking the more circuitous road route all this time.
There’s so many fascinating nooks and crannies - I’ve discovered lakes and ponds I never knew were there, interesting and beautiful homes, odd buildings I’ve never noticed and so much more besides - including on one occasion, a couple of lads using an old quarry as a backdrop for some photos of their model spaceships.
I’m hoping my health and the weather hold up long enough to keep me mobile and smiling and delving into the darkest corners of Doncaster.