Last Saturday I joined, for the first time, the Birmingham Urban Sketchers Group. The location was Aston, following a road past a Seventh Day Adventist chapel and low-rise residences against which autumn leaves piled high in drifts, under the expressway to the park and Aston Hall museum. Arriving late, on the coldest day of the year so far, I found other sketchers dotted about, hunched against the wind holding down their drawings. The expressway rises to sweep over the residential streets. The Aston Tavern proved a surprising haven in this urban environment, with log fires and good beers and classical music playing on the background. Behind this is the parish church, with tumbling memorials leaning against one another in the graveyard. I walked round the outside of Aston Hall (a large Jacobean manor that had been besieged by Parliamentarians in the Civil War) and looked down stone steps through trees to the Aston Villa stadium dwarfing the surrounding dwellings. We finished in the Eritrea Café, a late Victorian building, surmounted by a statue with helmet and trident, formerly the Britannia pub and for while used as a cannabis factory before its latest incarnation. I drew using my current field kit: conte crayon as initial layer and resist for subsequent watercolour. The drawings of the other sketchers can be seen on the group’s Facebook page.