William Blacker has spent many years, on and off, living in primitive, almost medieval conditions in two remote areas of Romania. This book is an episodic account of his extraordinary experiences.
The first part concerns pastoral life in a small village in the north of Transylvania, not far from the Ukrainian border and from the eastern tip of Slovakia. On arrival he was asked by an old lady where he had come from. On being told England, two thousand miles away to the north-west, she asked in astonishment, ‘But how did you find the way?’ (assuming that all the land in between was criss-crossed by forest tracks and obscure footpaths). In the spring he would plough with horses in small fields surrounded by pear trees in glorious blossom; in summer there was haymaking with a scythe, like Levin in Anna Karenina; and in the winter everyone was housebound by the iron frost and snow. He was lovingly adopted by a childless farmer whose farewell at the end of the book expresses a beautiful tenderness.