Stonehenge – Friday 10th August
This morning is hot and sunny. The ground works at Airman’s Corner are quite still as we drive past though men are carrying large metal barriers to create an inner wall.
There’s a bit of a queue to get in to the car park, not because of weight of traffic but because of size. A car in front of us with a German number plate is towing a large trailer containing some sort of wooden pallet-ing and bicycles. They need a space. Another car to our left is towing a caravan, Dutch number plates, they need a space. This really is part of the UK tour and people come with whatever they bring with them for their entire holiday. Somehow, they all seem to fit in most days.
Because it’s sunny, visitors are relaxed up on the monument field. People are sitting and lying on the mown walkways, a group of Chinese teenagers are playing loudly, one of them being swung by his leg and arms as another takes photos. A man with an umbrella walks round listening to his audio guide. Strapped on his chest is a small baby, happily bouncing his legs and little arms in the cool of the shade.
Mark chooses his spot for today’s drawing, round to the south east of Stonehenge. The sky is very clear today, just a few scattered clouds. The light will shift with the sun but won’t disco much in the next couple of hours. People instantly start looking over Mark’s shoulder, cameras out.
A group of Canadians walk by, one of the guys says, “I think she called me a sheep.” Woman replies, “What? As in people?” Him, “You mean Sheople?” “Yeah. Sheople.” Him, “Yeah! I think she called me a sheople”. What a brilliant word! And it could be applied here – all these people following each other around the walkway circling the stones. Sheople. But happy sheople.
A little boy stands with his father and they discuss the view in German. He’s wearing a German football shirt – turquoise and navy blue – the number 1 Neuer – written across his back.
The traffic has built to such a peak on the A303 it is temporarily static. The sheep over the road are particularly vocal today and I don’t know when the skylarks went but they just seem to have left the site. A few large crows are dotted around the stones, but the smaller birds haven’t made it up here yet.
A Chinook flies past. A little girl in a pink sun hat runs to her mother to grab a camera then stands close up to Mark to take a photo. A light aircraft flies in quite low and circles the stones, it’s engine obliterating all other sounds.
A couple wheel their pushchair up close to Mark and the pink clad toddler stands on the running board to get a closer look. They take photos of her. She soon gets distracted and decides she wants a closer look at her own push chair, so steps onto the ground, crouches and wipes her hands vigorously up and down the running board.
A tour guide tells his group that he’s heading back to the bus, but for them to take their time, just enjoy it here, there’s no rush, but they need to be leaving in ten minutes. That’s not even time to hit the gift shop! The clouds have moved in now. The light on the stones is less glaring. Not so good for photos, but perhaps better for drawing.
I can hear the electronic interference of a walkie-talkie but I can’t see anyone from the EH staff nearby. They carry walkie-talkies and every now and then you get a disembodied voice flying through the air. A man sitting on the bench nearby lifts a device to his mouth and in an American accent says, “Can you see your brother? Repeat. Can you see your brother?” I hear a voice replying, a female voice but I can’t tell what she’s saying. “Joshua. Joshua. Joshua”, the man says. But Joshua doesn’t reply. He gets up and goes towards the exit. Perhaps Joshua is in the gift shop.
Someone is honking on the 303 – not a celebratory hoot but a noise to admonish; a long persistent note as the unending traffic crawls sedately by.