Stonehenge – Thursday 21st February
As we wait at the roadwork traffic lights, we watch a bright yellow JCB race up the newly made tarmac road of the new visitor centre throwing up a cloud of dust in its wake.
At the current visitor centre, the car park has just taken delivery of several coaches and we’re in time to see hordes of visitors walking towards the entrance. Most people are dressed for the weather; puffa jackets and winter coats, hats and scarves. But then I see a mother holding the hand of a warmly bundled tot and she’s dressed in a smartish short coat with a floaty scarf and skinny jeans topping ambitiously high black patent heels. Somehow I don’t think she’ll be doing the full circuit of the stones.
In the field next to the car park, fences are being mended and maintained. There’s a Land Rover towing a trailer parked up, and a couple of men working with wooden posts. A black and white sheep dog runs around next to the vehicle, jumping excitedly in the air. He looks like he might be catching flies.
We’re greeted by the English Heritage staff as we go past the turnstiles and told the temperature is supposed to feel about -4° up on the monument field.
Mark sits by the guide rope in front of his trilithon. He’s near the end of the drawing now. Will today be the day he finishes it?
Tourists are posing for photos, fixing a frozen grin for the lens, then rubbing their hands and bowing their heads against the cold the moment it’s done. The wind is vicious. It’s definitely minus something up here.
I get the camera out to take a shot of the Stonehenge Artist. The flash snaps up.
An Apache swoops in across the Cursus, briefly blinding us to its shape as the headlights glare directly towards us.
People hover fleetingly over Mark’s shoulder for a glance at his drawing, but it’s not a day to linger. Most tourists will be round and out in less than thirty minutes.
It’s too cold to sit so I take a turn around the stones. The sandwich board at the top of the tarmac path is now displaying a poster in bright red with white lettering – ‘Caution: slippery conditions’. The grass walkway is open but it’s barely grass. The main colour is brown, strands of grass now mingled with the earth.
A crow treads wind about three feet off the ground and caws. The traffic on the A303 is at a crawl.
Outside the chain link fence I watch a white van park up and with the engine still running, a young man in a grey hoodie jumps out and takes a photo of the stones, his phone held above the line of the wire.
Two policemen and a policewoman walk along the path outside the fence then stop, pull out their smart phones and similarly, all take photos through the wire.