Having bought two horses from gypsies at a fair in southern Bulgaria, Jeremy James set out with Chumpie, the first of his travelling companions, to ride to Romania. Travelling on horseback gives you a different perspective from any other form of transport because, as Jeremy says, if you go by train or car, the world rushes past you, and you don t even get to smell it. But if you travel on a horse you feel the world as you move through it, every step, every scent, every breeze, every dimple in the ground, and it s always fresh. I d sooner go with a horse than leg it because the horse drives you into village life: he s a point of reference, something to focus on. Encountering a marvellous gallery of characters, Jeremy reveals the humorous side of Eastern European low-life, from gypsies to farmhands from Bulgaria to Berlin, by way of Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and East Germany. This is the story of five months effort to get along with little vocabulary, not much money, fiery booze, indigestible food, two more travelling companions Andr Bubear in Romania, then Gavin Douglas in Czechoslovakia and a pair of highly entertaining horses who steal, run away, carry on conversations, plot, kick, bite, hoard food, carry hitch-hikers and jog along at the centre of a marvellously readable tale. Jeremy finds himself frequently at odds, but irrevocably attached to his horses, conferring on one a knighthood, much to the annoyance of the other. Vagabond is a refreshing, witty and often surprising view of Eastern Europe and the collapse of communism, literally straight from the horse s mouth.
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