Stonehenge – Thursday 25th April
Today we pick up sandwiches from the baker in Amesbury on our way to Stonehenge and park up in the visitor centre car park to have lunch. The truck is great to picnic in. The middle seats have been removed and we have a bench to sit on and a Persian rug for our feet.
It’s warm enough to have the sliding side-door and windows open.
We’re not the only ones dining here. There’s a fairly new silver Ford Mondeo parked near to us. The occupant returns from the café with a bag of goodies, removes his jacket and sits in the driver’s seat to eat. He doesn’t look like a tourist; he looks like he’s stopped off for lunch.
I’ve seen lots of people do this over the past months. Military vehicles parked up, police vehicles and ambulances, uniformed folk with ice creams and coffees, and these are just the easily identifiable people. I’m sure countless reps and people travelling for work stop off here for a comfort break. In some ways the visitor centre here acts as a service station for the A303, but without any fuel. I wonder if as many people will be able to do this when they close the A344 and open the brand new visitor centre?
Arthur Pendragon is here, displaying his posters, manning his petition.
A coach load of French school children are chatting loudly and playing on the grass verges.
Every now and then a car arrives or departs in a cloud of dust. It doesn’t seem so very long ago that we were parking in mud.
The French kids are wrangled onto a bright yellow coach and their racket is replaced with the sound of the skylarks, noisily singing out in the field behind us.
I watch visitors stop to talk to Arthur, asking about his campaign and listening while he explains about the bones of the ancestors. They sign his petition then wave goodbye. I wonder how many signatures he has? It must be a truly international list.
Mark heads up to the stones a little before me. As I reach the tarmac path, I see a young girl standing quite near to Mark watching him draw. She’s joined by a smaller person dressed in a similar coat – I’m guessing it’s her sister – and they both watch for a while before drifting off. A parade of different visitors takes photos and moving image of the artist at work, then, the little girl re-appears. She stands quite close up to Mark, watching the silverpoint creeping across the paper, and as other people come to look, she shuffles closer, seemingly concerned that someone might come between her and the artist, so blocking her view. It’s very sweet observing this level of possessiveness. I leave them to it and retire to a bench.
A little Chinese boy sits next to me, his audio guide to his ear. Suddenly he starts giggling. Is it something on the guide?
“That crow has no respect!” says a man laughing. “Sitting on the nipple,” says his companion referring to the sarsen we call crow perch, a single upright with a well-defined carved tenon on top.
The little girl who’s been observing Mark skips along the path towards me and, spotting me writing, comes close and looks over the page. She’s clearly disappointed that I’m not conjuring a lovely image of Stonehenge, and seeing that all I’m forming are words, she skips off to find her family around the grass walkway.
I take a walk around the stones amongst the other tourists strolling, taking photos, and when I get back to the tarmac path, the little girl is standing next to Mark again, watching. I think he’s made a fan.