I travelled in what was then Czechoslovakia, immediately before Poland (see Archive 3). I like to get off the main tourist routes if possible. It was sometimes tricky: neither my friend nor I could drive, so it was all done on trains and buses.
That in itself can be an experience though. This sketch was done on a bus between villages. Many older woman still wore traditional dress.
Liptovska Teplicka, where the bus was headed, turned out to fabulous for drawing. It was a little, farming community, set amongst pine-clad hills, and apparently uncontaminated by the uglier side of modern life.
The buildings were traditional and mainly wooden. Big white ducks waddled the streets and yards were stacked with woodpiles and farming paraphernalia.
I spent a couple of very happy hours wandering about with my friend, sketching this and that. There were not all that many people around, but those we bumped into seemed surprisingly unsurprised to see us, although I felt as though we stood out almost like time travellers.
Another, even tinier village I'll never forget, is Sumiac. There was nobody about, so my frined and I were standing sketching outside a really interesting old wooden house. I had nearly finished, when I spotted the owner in the doorway. He was an old man. Although I worried he might be upset at us, he just smiled and sat on the porch to watch.
When we had finished, we showed him our drawings and we got into one of those peculiar, mainly mimed conversations. We told him we were from England, and he told us that he was born in the year 1900.
He had such a brilliant face, I asked if I could draw him. While I was drawing this portrait, another very old man came shuffling down the hill, dressed in what I thought was a much-faded military uniform, but turned out to be his old tram-drivers uniform.
In part mime, part Czech, he was obviously telling us we shouldn't bother with the first man and his grotty old house, we should be drawing his place instead! He then grabbed my arm and dragged me up the hill. He made us wait while he set up wooden stools in the dirt road, then 'told' us to get on with it!
I am very sad that I can't show you the drawing, as he was obviously desperate to keep it, so I had to give it up. One funny thing - he had a 'page 3' pin-up in his front window. I tactfully left it out, but he would not accept the drawing until I had drawn it in!!