My first contact with curling was watching it on TV during the 2002 Winter Olympics. I thought it was the most extraordinary game. The skill, the control, the strategy – I was blown away. I was living in London at the time, working for the health service. There was no way I could fit in a regular sporting activity. It wasn’t until six years ago when I took early retirement and moved home to Scotland that I rediscovered curling.

The aim of the game is simple: to get as many of your stones closer than your opponents’ to the button – the centre of a target at the other end of the ice, typically 150ft away. In a standard game there are four people on each team who throw – or deliver – two stones each, alternating with the other team. It’s a constant challenge: to get the stone travelling at the right speed on the ice and aimed properly is no mean feat. It’s chess on ice: you’re always thinking two or three moves ahead.

In other team sports, there are times when you’re not really engaged with what’s going on. With curling, all four of you are involved with every single stone, because if you’re not throwing it then you’re running with it, sweeping (to keep the stone on course and stop it slowing down), and giving information to the skipper, who is the strategist. There’s no dozy time on an ice rink.

If you’re sweeping vigorously, it’s a good cardiovascular workout. You’ll see some of the young guys playing in T-shirts and sweating buckets. But unlike running, say, where you get wear and tear on the joints, it’s low impact, which for an older curler is absolutely great. I certainly feel fitter for it, and I find that I’m really active through the winter – the long, dark nights during which I used to be more of a coach potato.

The ice is unforgiving. One of the lovely things about curling is that everyone remembers what it’s like to be totally inept on the ice, so when you come on as a new curler, people are so supportive.

My weekend workout

Home rink? Lockerbie.

How often do you play? Three or four times a week.

Preferred kit? Polo neck and a fleece, to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Five ways to get started

1 Curling has its roots in Scotland, where games were originally played on frozen ponds and lochs. To find your nearest club, your first port of call is

2 Ice rinks are cold, but sweeping can be sweaty work, so wear light and flexible layers. Most importantly, wear good socks: if your feet are warm, the rest of your body will be fine.

3 You can buy specialist curling shoes, but you can use any rubber-soled shoes, like a pair of trainers. The only requirement is that the soles be clean: if they are not, you won’t be allowed on the ice.

4 For a right-hander, start with your left foot on the ice and your right foot on the fixed block, known as the hack. Crouch down, holding your stone, and push off the hack with your right foot, stretching out your leg as you slide down the ice.

5 Curling is open to people of all physical abilities. Stones can be delivered with surprising accuracy from a standing position, and most facilities can also provide wheelchair users with a cue – a sort of stick that attaches to the handle of the stone.

Essential kit

1 Goldline FibreLight curling brush, £69.95,

2 Bridgedale WoolFusion Trekker socks, £16.50,

3 Balance Plus 400 curling shoes, £153,

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