Foreword by Douglas Dunn Introduction 1 The World of the Rabbit, the Stoat, the Pheasant ... and the Ways of Fish and Fishermen Here are descriptions of natural life: in woodlands and fields, and in the landscapes of mountains and water. From the hare in its form to the pigeons 'carried across the undulating country by the buffeting wind' and the trout rising in the black water of a mountain lake, Ian Niall is never more in his element. 2 Characters: fact and fiction Some of these men were his childhood heroes, some were kindred spirits and all we can recognise. We may have seen them loitering, just as Snib or Black Bill did, with an eye to the almost invisible main chance. On the edge of society, they are, in their way, universal characters to be found in any country village or along a road in any remote rural backwater. They are celebrated here with a knowing understanding and a gentle humour. 3 Tall Trees and Bright Mornings These memoir pieces describe the writer's growth from child to adult. They show us a solitary child, his growing attachment to the natural world, and the seasonal routine and daily rituals of a farming life more in keeping with the nineteenth century than the twentieth. 4 From the Far Moss, the Fiels and Migneint Whether it is observation of the rising hay 'dotted with yellow-flowered weeds and seeding thistles', the 'contour of the ground with its ridges of a past season's ploughing', the 'loose stones about your heels' or a description of the awe inspiring emptiness of a remote landscape, the importance of place in Ian Niall's writing cannot be ignored. 5 First Words: Chapter One from Wigtown Ploughman: Part of his Life Here is the first chapter of Ian Niall's first novel. It was published under his own name, John McNeillie, when he was 22 years old. Amongst other things it shows us how he drew upon his time at North Clutag to tell his story. Bibliography & Acknowledgements
Ian Niall is the pen name of Ian McNeillie who wrote over 40 published works and many articles, mostly dealing with nature and the outdoors.