Of several unbelievable sojourns Leigh Fermor enjoyed in anciently aristocratic homes dotted across central Europe, this may top the lot. He seems to have come from a sufficiently elevated stratum of English society to be able to pitch up here and there, after weeks of roughing it sleeping in barns and under trees, and on production of a kind letter of introduction, to be admitted to utter luxury and care, his clothes cleaned and repaired or replaced and his mind given the free run of irresistible libraries.
Enjoy the full quotation, including the ‘twinkling spokes’ which make me want to jump up and spend the afternoon chrome-gleaming my bike. As for the ‘black-frogged livery’ I must remember to ask my tailor to kit out the staff with some.
The Alföld is the Great Plain of Hungary.
‘In the library the following day, while lessons went on next door, I found out as much as I could about the Alföld, until it was time to set off for a picnic. A kind of victoria bowled up to the front on twinkling spokes, and everyone piled in. I was very struck by the hat which went with the coachman’s black-frogged livery.’
Source: Patrick Leigh Fermor, Between the Woods and the Water (London: Penguin Books, 1986), p. 68