Stonehenge – Sunday 16th December
Driving past the building site at Airman’s Corner it strikes me that I’ve almost stopped looking at it. The initial shock was the change from rural to no longer rural, a type of violation of the landscape. But now that the state of ripped up land, heavy machinery, fences and hoardings appears permanent; the shock has passed. Most people visiting here will never know what it used to be like.
It’s a lovely clear day. The temperature has softened and it’s a good opportunity for Mark to continue the silverpoint study.
The car park is busy; it’s a coach tour day. Up on the tarmac path I hear Japanese, Russian, is that Malaysian?
I take a photo of Mark sitting with his drawing board on his lap concentrating on the large trilithon and a couple, South American, ask me to take a photo of them. They pose sweetly, their arms around each others’ waists, audio guides to their ears, and smile.
An Indian family come by pulling small wheelie cases behind them.
The jackdaws and crows are busy, feeding on scraps of food and drinking from the dips in the floored horizontal sarsens, convenient birdbaths delivered by nature.
There’s a slight haze across the horizon that gives the strange impression the barrows are really quite close to us, much closer than they actually are.
A man sets up his camera on a tall tripod and gets his girlfriend to pose, then he rushes to stand next to her and smiles while ‘automatic’ runs the shoot. He sets the shot facing the stones, he sets the shot facing the sheep and the barrows then they move a few yards around the grass walkway and repeat the process.
Christmas is making an appearance. There’s a girl wearing a headband with small sparkly antlers attached and a man in a white fur trimmed red floppy Santa hat. But this is a world away from all the paraphernalia of the season.
A coach party arrives on the tarmac path and Mark is surrounded. A couple of men walk to the top of the path, one points over to the field and shouts ‘SHEEEEP!’ His friend cracks up laughing.
I watch two young Japanese women crouch down behind Mark to get a photo of his drawing. They stand and compare images back on their smart phones.
The temperature drops again. Half the sky is blue but clouds gather ominously to the West. Dark grey clouds edge in to smother the sun. The light has gone quite flat.
A young woman, South East Asian, crouches in front of me and takes a photo of me sitting on the bench. I look up as her camera clicks and she smiles at me. I realise the sheep in the meadow are directly behind me, really close up to the electric fence. I might be sitting in a really bad spot here, ruining countless photos… of sheep.