A small boy with oiled curls and a mischievous gleam in his dark eyes greets you with a bright smile as you step down from the horse-drawn vardo which transported you here.
"Sastipe and welcome," he declares, bending from the waist and sweeping the ground with his cap. "No entrance charge to enjoy the festivities on this fine day, good stranger." He pauses and scrubs thoughtfully at his nose with a grubby fist. "However, should you feel so kindly disposed as to deposit a farthing for my trouble..." He proffers his upturned cap and regards you expectantly. From behind this young rascal, you hear the vague tinkle of children chuckling at such a bold request. The lad shrugs indifferently. It was worth a try.
A glance over your shoulder reveals that the wagon by which you had arrived has suddenly disappeared, without even so much as a disturbance of the tiny, sharp stones which litter the surface of the pathway. Fear not, it will return when you are ready to depart.
Setting his cap at a jaunty angle once more upon his black ringlets, the urchin beckons you forward. "Enter," he urges. "There is much to see and do here at this, the most appealing and varied of carnivals." Your presence now all but forgotten by the enterprising youngster, he peers along the winding road in anticipation of further visitors. Perhaps the next to arrive will prove more generous.
The makeshift signpost before you points in many directions. The hours pass slowly in this place and you will have ample time to partake of all that the Fairground has to offer. Within the cool breeze you detect the strum of a guitar and the broken phrases of a storyteller...the hushed rustle of shuffling cards...and other mysterious sounds and scents which add spice to the atmosphere. You hesitate. The decision is difficult. Purchase a love potion or find fortune in tea-leaves? Learn the meaning of those mutterings in a strange tongue that seem to echo all around you, or rent a Romani costume that you might not stick out like a sore thumb?
Where to start...? Where to start...?