Stonehenge – Thursday 14th February
It’s Valentine’s Day, the sun is shining, why shouldn’t a day at Stonehenge be romantic?
In truth, it doesn’t seem too different from other days here. There’s a line of people waiting to go in through the turnstiles, the EH staff greet us cheerily, but, the shop window has been dressed with a few heart shaped bits and bobs alongside some Valentine Day type gifts – jewellery and toy sheep.
There’s a persistent deep clunk in the air, battery fire from somewhere over the Plain. But today the skylarks are in full throttle and almost drown out the traffic and the military. It’s lovely having them back. It feels optimistic.
Mark is now into the mid 50s in terms of hours spent on this particular drawing (rather than age). It’s impressive. He keeps setting himself a deadline to finish but then weather messes up his timetable. He might just finish it this week.
Today lots of people are stopping on their way round to peer over his shoulder for a look, and they look like they approve. They take photos.
The grass walkway is closed again today. It may not be raining but I’m sitting on a bench that is sitting in a puddle on the tarmac path. The ground is sodden. People walk to the end of the path and the sandwich board declaring “Closed – Due to adverse weather conditions” and take pictures of the sheep in the meadow beyond. They remain a draw. The other day I overheard a girl say, “Oh look sheep. And it’s not even Wales”.
I understand that in many other countries, sheep are not very commonly spread around the rural areas, but I’m amazed how so many English speaking people are surprised by them. It’s possibly just an indication that many British tourists to Stonehenge come from the metropolitan areas. No sheep there.
I watch a Chinook fly over the wood at the top of the Great Cursus.
There are a fair number of children here today. It’s half term for some, and, as ever, they’re particularly interested in the artist sitting drawing. I watch a little girl in a union jack knitted hat stand close up to Mark listening to her audio pod but looking from Mark’s drawing up to her mother in delight. A kind of explosion of silent excitement.
I watch a group of South-east Asian visitors cluster and crouch by the guide rope in a pose for a camera on a tripod. Just as they all freeze, ready for the automatic shot, a small person in a bright red anorak and a stripy bobble hat runs in front of them.
Siobhan arrives looking fabulous in white and purple, a spring like garland with ribbons in her hair. She stands with her goat’s head staff and chats. Tourists take photos.
A Landrover pulling a trailer of hay drives onto the meadow greeted by an enthusiastic chorus of baa-ing. The sheep turn and run towards the vehicle, their backsides bouncing up and down and away from us in the sunlight. Tourists take photos…