Stonehenge – Monday 3rd June
This must be summer? It’s a lovely day and because of that, or in spite of that, Stonehenge is heaving.
We arrive today via the route that takes us directly past the Stones on the A303, and we can clearly see that the circular walkway is a wave of different colours; bright greens, turquoise and orange, vivid pink and zinging reds – summer clothing colours.
The car park has so many coaches in it it’s scary. But Mark has come to draw and that’s what he’s going to do.
We enter the visitor area amidst a large French education group, mid teens and a little giddy to be out of the coach. Walking through the tunnel someone emits a piercing scream. It’s interesting that although it almost shatters the eardrum, one is in no doubt that the ‘screamer’ is in no danger. The scream is just for fun. Oh boy!
Mark is very proficient now at claiming his spot by the guide rope and in front of the lichen-covered trilithon. He sits, unwraps his drawing and begins. Within seconds, he is immersed in a crowd of young French people. I take several photos of him and I can barely make him out. But the kids seem genuinely interested. I hover and listen to Mark speaking schoolboy French to the students and their teacher. Lots of ‘Oohs’ and ‘Aahs’ are remarked and I realise he’s telling them how many hours he’s been working on this particular silverpoint. The teacher explains some things to her students and then in her very best schoolgirl English she says “Congratulations!” to the seated artist.
The group leave, shuffling off a yard or two along the tarmac path and are replaced instantly by a large group of slightly larger German students. The contents of those coaches are becoming apparent.
One coach I spotted that I haven’t noticed before is a German vehicle calling itself a ‘touring hotel’. The front consists of wide generous seats and the back half is a double decker affair with small curtained windows, like one of those rock and roll tour buses you see at certain venues. So now I’m wondering, where do coaches like this park up for the night? Do they stop in laybys, queued up with long haul lorries? Or do they spend the night in motorway service station car parks? This is totally new to me. And being presented with conundrums like this is a whole other way in which a year at Stonehenge has been an education.
A German lad stands over Mark and says, “Your drawing is very good. How long have you been drawing it?” The students like the art, and although they do disturb Mark, it’s very gratifying that they can be bothered to look. They take photos of the drawing and the Stonehenge Artist then move along to be replaced by another French education group. This is going to be exhausting.
I go for a walk around the Stones. A jet flies over, quite low and strangely slowly. Everyone takes photos.
A couple are in brightly knitted short ponchos. They hold hands and mooch around the grass walkway. These are obviously their summer of love clothes. I think they may look back and chortle at these outfits. We’ve all got them, those photos of ourselves where we’re a bit serious about our appearances and from a distance we can’t remember what possessed us.
But the sun is out, and the Stones look magnificent, and the fields of rape are glowing the brightest yellow in the sunshine, and the jackdaws are busy gathering food for their young ones, and hey! We’re at Stonehenge, what’s not to like?