1. Stonehenge – Wednesday 6th February

      There is no snow, no ice, no physical evidence to indicate exactly how cold it is today, but the wind is so bitter it actually hurts.

      Mark Anstee drawing Stonehenge 6th February

      We arrive on the tarmac path with a party of South East Asian visitors. One girl is wearing shorts with a pair of tights under them. And by ‘tights’ I mean sheer nylon, 20 denier transparent tights. I notice she doesn’t stay for long. She poses for the obligatory photos then hurries round and out.

      I watch the EH Staff remove their gloves to take photos, then put them back on for a short while until they’re asked again to take another photo and once more expose fingers to the arctic wind.

      Mark is sitting in front of his Trilithon. He reckons he can sit for an hour in this weather but I can’t. The artist is made of stronger stuff than I. He can actually draw with gloves on which is a blessing.

      There’s obviously a major exercise going on over Salisbury Plain. The helicopters, various types, are busy, and frequent booms shake the air. It does sound as though they really are blowing things up, but there I have to go to my imagination. I know there are villages, disused or purpose built on the Plain for the soldiers to train in, but do they physically blow up buildings?

      I walk round the stones to keep my blood flowing and notice the ground has been vigorously spiked by some sort of mechanical rotary implement. It’s muddy but no longer water logged.

      A couple in thin fleecy hoodies stand to take a photo of the stones, their faces mottled with bright pink patches as their skin reacts to the cold.

      A tank rumbles past on the road by the chain-link fence, desert camouflage colours with two soldiers in hi-viz jackets standing on top and a flashing light doing its thing at the rear of the vehicle. Conspicuous…

      The illustration on the slope

      I leave Mark concentrating on his drawing and head out of the monument field to find shelter. On the slope on the way to the tunnel there’s a type of mural, a colourful drawing printed on large vinyl panels. It’s one of those pictures particularly favoured by the heritage organizations during the 80s and 90s that illustrates a possible scenario relating to the history of the place, in this case, the construction of Stonehenge.

      A team of half dressed men haul a huge sarsen rock up the slope. Today it strikes me as interesting that in this image of ropes and brute strength, it is perpetually summer. No matter how arduous the effort of dragging several tons of stone across the Wiltshire landscape, a bit of skirt to protect your modesty simply wouldn’t do in temperatures like today’s.

      In the car park, jackdaws and crows cling to the branches of the naked hawthorns, swaying precariously as they’re buffeted by the winds.

      Jackdaws in the car park Hawthorns – Stonehenge