1. Stonehenge – Saturday 4th May

      Stonehenge Artist 4th May

      It’s Bank Holiday Weekend; of course Stonehenge is busy. It’s sunny and windy which means the car park is a tightly packed dust bowl and there’s some event happening here.

      In the field next to the car park there are marquees, large and small, straw-bales and a wagon flying NFU flags.

      A couple are stapling signs to the wooden fencing. “Ah look. We could have done a Neolithic marathon, whatever that is!” a driver shouts to one of his car mates. The signs do indeed announce the Sarsen Trail and Neolithic Marathon. Is it happening today?

      Visitors are dotting the landscape, standing on top of the Cursus barrows, walking the Avenue. The path along the roadside of the chain link fence is brisk with tourists and crowds of coach parties are coming and going. The car park is more or less full.

      Swifts are darting in and out of the parked vehicles showing off their best acrobatic moves. It’s the first time I’ve seen birds like this here. I’m accustomed to the usual residents of crows, starlings and skylarks. It’s not a wide variety of bird life here. Possibly not enough shelter.

      The dust swirls as cars pull out and others arrive.

      Artist and Visitors

      I walk up to the monument in the midst of a large party of Chinese tourists. I’m guessing they’re Mandarin speakers, not because I can understand or recognise anything anyone says, but because they’re all wearing audio guides around their necks and I know a Cantonese version isn’t currently on offer here.

      Mark is sitting next to the guide rope continuing the silverpoint trilithon. His hair is short but nevertheless is being ruffled by the vigorous wind. Quite a few visitors are wearing t-shirts and look to be regretting it. Others are well wrapped in hoodies and coats. The crows are wind surfing, dipping and floating around the monument field.

      The photography is full on. The English Heritage custodians seem to be constantly taking pictures for people; people from China and India and Poland and Canada and the UK. A Chinese man takes video of the Stones, the landscape, the Stonehenge Artist.

      A Japanese girl is taking photos of the dandelions and daisies growing near to the guide rope.

      Anstee’s Silverpoint Trilithon

      In the meadow a sheep tries to get a drink of water from the metal trough there but can’t quite reach. It trots round to the other side and stands on the concrete blocks supporting the trough and leans right over to reach the water. People take photos.

      On the path outside the chain link fence, a woman is tying a pink and silver scarf over the top of her cowboy hat and fixing it under her chin. It’s one way to beat the wind.

      The path along the A344 is full. A Chinese man is trying to get a picture of his companion standing by the wire fence with only the stones behind him, not other tourists, and is frozen in a strange squat just waiting for the exact moment of clearance.

      Apparently, the Neolithic marathon happens tomorrow. It’s going to be even madder at Stonehenge than today. Bank holiday weekend – we might not return until it’s over…