Growing up in a 1950s mining village in the English midlands is hard for someone like Joey, who’s known he was different since he was a kid. All he wants to do is run wild on the hills, watching nature and indulging his love of art. All his parents want is for him to settle down: marriage, a home of his own, a steady job down the mine, and not so much as a whiff of art college. But none of that appeals to him.
Everything changes the summer he turns eighteen, when the travellers come to town. They’re here for the local farmer’s beet harvest, but the villagers resent them and Joe’s mam won’t even let him speak to them. Dirty, lazy, good-for-nothing layabouts, she calls them. But when Joe meets Billy on the hill behind the village, the man isn’t dirty at all, just good-looking, good-humoured and surprisingly kind. Best of all, Billy shares his love of the natural world.
Unbeknown to his family the two become friends, and then more than friends. But when the farmer’s barn burns down and Joe’s brother Rob puts the blame on Billy, Joe must decide whether to stay loyal to his family, or grow up fast and risk everything he’s familiar with to help the man he’s come to love.