Stonehenge – Sunday 30th December
Today is one of those days when you don’t know if it’ll rain. It’s chilly, grey and sunny. The Stonehenge car park is really busy, many coaches, private cars and taxis. Up on the walkway it’s like a mid-summer crowd. I’m surprised. I didn’t expect these numbers.
Mark gets on with his drawing from the tarmac path. Just as well. I reckon he’d sink into the soft ground if he set his stool up on the grass. The visitors are, as in the busy summer months, from everywhere, China, India and the countries of South East Asia, Russia and the Baltic States, South America and Europe. Many English families are here too on their post Christmas outings. I watch one family stand while a small girl takes a photo of them. “Smi-ile”, she says. “Daddy, where’s your best smile?” “My best smile? It’s home in the drawer!” He says, but they sound happy together and happy to be here.
Another family walk by. A young boy says, “You know, next time we go out, we should check the weather and see how cold it is.”
The wind is bitter but the light is glorious. The Stones are illuminated with flashes of sun as the clouds scoot over.
On the byway the trucks from the Solstice gathering are still parked up and today there’s another gathering. A sizable group of motorbikes, ‘green-laners’, seem to be having a con-flab.
The farmer is checking on his sheep, driving across the meadow in his 4×4 and as ever, people are photographing the animals.
There are quite a few of those baby buggies being pushed round with the full transparent plastic cover across the front. They present like museum specimen cases, on wheels. I watch one family pose, Dad and two older children next to the buggy while Mum takes the photo, and under the plastic window I see a small tot in a pink all in one with the hood completely covering it’s face. It’s rigid. It could be a doll.
People gather around the artist for a brief look or a quick photo. This drawing is coming along so slowly, but I expect some people think Mark’s just whipped it up this morning. To really study something, to give it your full-undivided attention is a type of honouring of that thing, that object. And in his own way, Mark is honouring this mighty trilithon. The people who constructed it certainly spent this amount of time and more in the making of it.
A little Chinese girl in pink; pink fluffy hoody, pink hair ties, pink duvet armless body warmer, pink skirt, pink tights but brown boots, comes and sits on the bench next to me. She looks about seven or so and she’s listening very intently to the audio guide. Her mother comes along and gets her to smile as she photographs her with her tablet then encourages her along.
The people keep coming. Across the circle I see Siobhan with her goat head staff, her cloak madly dancing in the wind. As she walks, the cloak takes off behind her billowing like a black and purple sail attached at her shoulders and revealing the long white dress beneath. Every few paces she stops and faces outwards, staring over the surrounding landscape. And then someone stops her. I hope she’s got her thermals on. She could be there for sometime.
“Why would anyone want to come on holiday here? It’s horrible.” Says a man in a strong Irish accent as he rushes past.
Queuing to get past the crowd trying to get into the gift shop on my way out, I have chance to study the current shop window display. A flock of small smiley sheep neatly stacked on pale wooden shelves looks out at us, a pile of little bags of edible ‘sheep droppings’ gathered at the base. Yep. Visitors really love those sheep.