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During an outbreak of meningitis in Glasgow in the 1920s Ian Niall was sent to live with his grandparents, then tenants of North Clutag Farm, Galloway, in south-west Scotland. It was another world compared to the industrial suburbs of Clydeside where he was born. The neighbours and farmhands he befriended seemed more at home in a Robert Burns poem than in the twentieth century, and throughout his childhood he had the freedom of the woods, the open fields and the moors.
It is this personal Eden which he returns to in Fresh Woods, Pastures New, reminding us how rare this sort of childhood has become, and how wonderful it must have been to roam so freely, absorbing the rhythms of the countryside as naturally as drawing breath.