Stonehenge – Tuesday 30th April
It has been a very strange year weather wise. The winter has felt relentless but today it feels positively spring like. On the journey in, yellow is the predominant colour breaking through. The rape fields are becoming streaked with flashes of lemon flowers and the verges are bursting with bright dandelion heads. The trees too are becoming colourful as new leaves uncurl in an almost acrid green spurt.
And through the windscreen, the sun delivers a hit of real heat as we drive into the Stonehenge car park. But then we get out of the truck and the wind blows that promise of warmth away.
Mark and I are becoming quite expert Stonehenge tourists but still the wind and the temperatures here remain a point of conversation.
It’s busy. The field used as an overflow car park isn’t open, but it’s a weekday and the regular parking is almost full, the walkways around the monument heavily populated.
Mark has to wait a few minutes while a fellow visitor takes photos from his spot, but as soon as he moves off, Mark’s in there, setting up his stool and unwrapping his drawing ready for the next session on his silverpoint trilithon.
One sheep has decided that the grass around the Henge ditch is a much more appealing colour than the grass in the meadow and has managed to break through the electric fence. One of the English Heritage custodians walks towards it and the sheep keeps eating with one eye on her then suddenly turns and runs back towards the meadow and through a gap in the wire fence. It’s funny. It clearly knows that it’s transgressed and is running away like a child being chased by ‘Parky”. Or was that just me?
The grass around the Henge is being watered and there’s a clear line between the old, downtrodden, sparse and straw-like grass and the bright green fresh sprouts. The walkway does take a real pounding here. I’m sure the feet of a million visitors must be a headache for the grounds men and women.
A helicopter flies directly over us and a coach full of petite well-dressed Japanese tourists arrives on the path. Some take photos of the artist at work on their way round and they all take photos of each other and themselves in front of the ancient stones.
A group of five older ladies line up holding two long silk scarves spread out at waist height while someone takes their picture.
A man in shorts walks by, English, stocky and sporting elaborate tattoos the entire length of his sturdy calves. I can’t see how high the design goes; it disappears up the legs of his shorts. All I can think is, ‘I bet that hurt.’ And maybe that’s the point.
A lady arrives in a long kimono type garment in oranges and reds. She stands next to the guide rope simply looking, contemplating the stones as she’s slightly battered by the wind.
“It would be so much nicer without all these people,” a lady with a Birmingham accent says somewhat pointedly. And a smart country gent walks past, flat cap, tweed jacket and carved walking stick. A couple of young soldiers dressed in pale desert camouflage walk round taking photos on smart phones.
“If you didn’t know anything about Stonehenge, it’s quite well put,” says an older lady to her companions as they discuss the English Heritage leaflet they’ve been given. A lady with a lollipop sign arrives; number 28. I think the cruise season has begun again.