Making for Home

Making for Home

A Tale of the Scottish Borders

By Alan Tait By (photographer) Andrea Jones

As a child living in a bleak coastal village on the Solway Firth during World War 2, Alan Tait’s Dr Barnardo’s papier mâché collection box, with its thatched roof and chimney, represented a different world, a bright and safe one, and inspired him to imagine the homes that might lie in his future, and to invent the rooms he might inhabit.

From such simple beginnings grew a lifelong obsession with houses and collecting. In Making for Home, Alan Tait traces his journey from childhood imaginings to a tenement flat in Glasgow in the 1960s to the Moffat Valley, in the Scottish Borders, where he bought a remote farmhouse in the 1970s, since when he has overseen its restoration and renewal during four decades of continuing change.

Making for Home is at once a memoir, a meditation on the nature of buildings and home and a history of this unique place, from earliest times, through the hunting of the Covenanters in the 1680s and the agricultural revolution, to the arrival of the Forestry Commission, which changed the landscape of the Valley forever, and beyond. The result is a lament, but not a dirge - for the valley will always move on and give shelter to men and animals.


Alan Tait is an art historian with a particular interest in the history of landscape. He is the author of The Landscape Garden in Scotland 1735-1835 (Edinburgh University Press, 1984) and A Garden in the Hills (2008, Frances Lincoln). For the last forty years he has lived in the Moffat Water valley in the Borders where he farms and gardens with enthusiasm.

Andrea Jones’s passion for photography and nature has led her around the world documenting landscapes, gardens and plants. She has exhibited in both the UK and USA and won multiple awards including GMG Book Photographer of the Year (2014) and Garden Photographer of the Year (2008). She lives in Ayrshire, Scotland.

"Writing the story of one’s own house and garden is a long-standing tradition. The art historian Alan Tait’s story is not so much about gardening as about gaining possession of his little farmhouse in the wilds of Scotland’s border country and his battles with authority, especially the Forestry Commission. It’s the story of landscape history too and Andrea Jones’s moody, self-possessed photographs capture the spirit of Tait’s enduring patience."

The Times Stephen Anderton

"At once hypnotic and romantic in many ways but it is also a fascinating tale of one man’s experiences, obsessions and imaginings of a Scottish valley. The writing style is absorbing...The photography is superb and passionate."

The Reckless Gardener

"This is a deeply insightful book that connects the reader to the landscape through its inhabitants over the years...The beautiful photography will transport the reader into Alan’s world as it brings it to life. It’ll make you want to grab your coat and head out to the hills, or, if it’s raining, online to search for old run-down farmhouses for sale."

A Pentland Garden Diary
The Pimpernel Press Ltd
The Pimpernel Press Ltd
Product Format
275 x 215
Publication Date
8 Jun 2017
Number of Pages