At the top of Beacon Hill I decide to leave the road and make my way down a narrow mud trodden path snaking its way through the trees and undergrowth. Immediately I see nests in the trees - it's winter now but spring will soon be here and signs of new life. Someone has been kind enough to decorate the grass with a car bumper scarring an otherwise beautifully natural landscape. As the mud squelches beneath my wellies I can see my house at the bottom of the hill amongst fields, trees and pylons. Hedgerows divide the land providing corridors for the natural world to navigate the landscape. I'm hoping the wet weather has deterred most folk from my chosen path as I seek solitude to explore the landscape and compose the photographs that I will return home with and use as reference for my watercolour paintings. The birds sing continuously all around me. I would love one day to identify individual songs - for now I will content myself with their combined chorus. A solitary pigeon keeps its eye on me as I make my way through the shadows and seek the light in the distance. Ten yards or so to my left I see an opening amongst the scrub and undergrowth and make my way to the adjacent field and wonderful vistas beyond. In front of me lies the farmer's field. I remember painting in my house a couple of years ago listening to the sheep that occupied this field as I sat at my easel. How I long for those sheep to return and provide the soundscape of rural countryside. Huge pylons interrupt an otherwise perfectly natural landscape but I can't complain. Having lived in inner city Birmingham for almost five decades this is bliss. I stand for a few minutes drinking in the views and atmosphere. To my left I notice a lone robin. I don't know how long he’s been watching me but I hope we can continue this journey together. I turn and duck beneath the midges and return to my path that continues towards the open fields. The wind is now gathering pace and forces me to button my coat in the shivering breeze. Blue tits dance before me amongst the branches. Between the twigs I see him again - the robin has followed me. Suddenly the path opens before a small field bringing the dog walkers and cars at the top of the ridge into view. Beyond I see people flying kites that soar into the sky taking advantage of the wind here at Barr Beacon. The landscape is too open here - I can't see any paintings so I double back and return towards trees nearest the road. I yearn for the sun to shine and cast shadows amongst these trees and shrubs but alas not, the sky remains dull and overcast - any shadows from these references will have to come from my imagination but then suddenly my luck changes and the sun bursts forth. Quickly I start snapping with my camera eager to make the most of this opportunity.