The other day I retired from the Police Force which means my 30th year of serving Queen and Country.

I spent my whole police career pounding the streets of the small pit villages on the coast of County Durham.  A lot of people would think it would be boring staying in the same area for so long but I can guarantee that was not the case.  Throughout the years I’ve been stabbed, bitten by dogs, bitten by humans, fell through rooves, knocked over, threatened with guns, knives, needles, weights, spat at by Hep carriers in the mouth, punched, slapped, scratched and God knows what else.  I’ve seen my share of violent deaths and a lot of hangings.

I must say it has been eventful.  I have enjoyed 99% of my time and the only low moments were few and far between.

I must admit I did go slightly early on the advice of various medical professionals and after nearly 30 years of running towards danger whilst others ran the other way, I thought I’d have a break from being constantly on edge and fearing for my life.

I will state that my time in both the Army and the Police are the cause of my of PTSD which was diagnosed in October 2014, however after finding out what PTSD actually was (I’m a bit thick, ha!) I can pin point the cause to be an incident I witnessed whilst I was about 11 years old, and any incident involving extreme violence to a human head since has not processed properly causing nightmares and very annoying flash backs.

Anyway, onward and upwards and start of a new chapter in my life!

Lowland Leader Course!

As I storm into retirement, I have slightly more spare time on my hands, well, after I’ve finished all the housework and hack away at the never-ending list of jobs given to me by the other half and my mother in law.


I decided to book myself onto a Lowland Leader Course which are conveniently ran by one of my old mates.  I had to join the Mountain Training Association first to get on the course and register onto the website and commence a Digital Log Book (DLOG).  My mate told me to get a few quality Lowland walks onto the log to put me in good stead for the course.  This wasn’t too difficult as I have numerous walks under my belt so it was just a case of filling in all the drop-down boxes on the DLOG and adding a brief description of the walk.

The course, if I’m successful, would allow me to take small groups out in Lowland areas for walks and also allows me to take out bronze award Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) candidates.


I turned up on the first day of the two-day course early Saturday morning at a local (ish) cricket club.  The instructor was there to greet me and it was great to catch up with my old friend.  There were only 3 (including me) candidates for the course, but this is better for us and it means the instructor can focus more individually.

The first half of the first day was taken up by kit, weather, walking group dynamics and checking the candidate’s navigation knowledge.  This is a very full couple of days as you could imagine so bait was eaten at the table to get everything covered,  which to be fair is fine by me as I’m not one for standing around gossiping, which I find is the norm in one hour’s meal breaks on these sort of things.


Then it was out into the area with a pretty good route to navigate.  The route was broken down into sections which we took turns in leading.  We used 1:25 for this section of the course and we had some pretty tricky routes to lead.  The afternoon went very quick and we returned back to the base in dusk, mentally knackered.  A couple of glasses of wine were needed back at home and an early night.

The next day we met at Hutton Rudby in North Yorkshire for day 2, the weather Gods were our friends today as rain had been forecast but we were met with broken cloud and sun.


Today was a full day of navigation, risk assessing, first aid scenarios, timed pacing and step counting.  We were using a 1:50 map for this day and route, I don’t like 1:50’s!  The first half of the day was using the ‘5 D’s’.  Distance, Direction, Duration, Description and Dangers.  The instructor showed us individually the section of the route he wanted us to lead.  We then had to study and give a full brief of the 5 D’s we expected to encounter.  Stopping mid walk if we wanted to change anything we had predicted.  Mentally draining, plus we had to described features, wildlife and any other points of interest as if we were out with a group, to make it more interesting.


The second half was ‘blind leading’.  This is where the instructor gives you a section of the walk in private, not telling the others in the group.  Making the rest of the candidates navigate (which they should be doing anywhere to be honest) and show the instructor at the end of the section where they believed they were.  Throw in first aid scenario’s again, ending the day in dusk and individual briefings in the pub.

A great couple of days with top lads and a good few laughs.

Next, assessment day in April!

New Start…

Like some blogs I’ve noticed they seem to dry up, sometimes for a couple of months and some for years.  I know mine hasn’t been on full steam for some time and this I can only put down to a mixture of uncertain times in my career and my mental health not being as it should be.  If you have read my previous log about mental health that will give you a bit of a heads up on that matter.

Anyway, I am soon to retire from my career as a Police Officer and even though I’m still fairly still young (51) I will have a little bit extra time to concentrate on this blog.  I still have to work but I’ve decided after 30 years of military and police work, I’m going to look after myself a bit better and take my foot off the confrontation pedal.

With this in mind I am going to make the most of the countryside and get back out hiking more, with or without the missus but as always with Alfie my Spaniel who has more mental health issues than me!



G10 Watch, my favourite!

As promised, I would start having a look at certain bits of kit that I buy or come across in life.  I’m not endorsing the kit, I’m just saying why I have it, buy it or use it and have written about it.  If I blog about some bit of kit, I know there are other’s available which may be better, but I work (when possible) on a budget so what I write about may be of interest to my readers.


Christmas brought me something for which I’d been pining for ages, a Military Watch Company (MWC) G10 watch.  I had a good watch which had seen me well for a good 5 years and to be fair, there was nothing wrong with the Casio G-Shock, I had only one battery change in the 5 years, I guess that is average.  It sported so many features, those of which I didn’t use, I just wanted plain and reliable.

On Christmas day I unwrapped the packaging and my grin made me look like I’d slept with a coat hanger in my mouth.  I opened the slick silver metal box and there before me was a brand new G10 watch.  Immediately my mind went back to my first ever G10 watch that I was issued back in 1989 when I first started basic training for the Royal Engineers.

Now I know that the more avid military enthusiasts will immediately say, “The army didn’t get issued MWC watches, British squaddies, airmen and Seamen were issued Cabot Watch Company (CTW) pieces!”  This is true, however, for whatever reason my troop and I were issued MTC watches, and on issue the Cpl in the Quartermasters store brought our attention to this fact justifying the change saying, “They must be cutting back!?”  I was just chuffed to get a watch for nowt, well until I de-mobbed anyway.

They were all good watches but this one meant something more, it was bought by my loving wife and it brought back a few memories.  Even the strap was the same, Olive Drab webbing strap with no thrills.  A quality time piece which is used worldwide amongst military and law enforcement, anti-terrorist units plus marine companies and many more.

Click here for full details of this watch

It’s water resistant for 50m and ultra-reliable.  The strap lasts for ages and as long as you don’t want something all singing and dancing, it will with stand a nuclear blast, a bit like the AK 47 of watches for reliability but a Walther PK for coolness!

I don’t have to have a revisit to this blog for an update on this watch, as I know it will reach all expectations!


Happy New Year

Like most, a new year brings new beginnings, new starts and resolutions.  I have never been the sort to make resolutions because if I wanted to change things about my life, I did it there and then, not wait until 1st January.  I have noticed this blogs’ events have been very thin on the ground due to circumstances which I have been unable to control.  So, with this in mind I’m gonna change the dynamics of my blog.  Until now I have used my blog  to record the walks me and mine have done, which seemed to have good feed back so I’m not gonna change that, what I’m gonna do is add more events other than just walks.  This will include shorter blogs which will look at walks, kit, everyday outdoor life, work, family, animals, food and drink.  I think, after reading other blogs, it will be more like a journal with advice (whenever I can give) and decisions I have made.  After all, this year sees me enter my 50th year on this planet so I should know something!

I expect to have at least one new event (is that a good word?) a week if not more.  I’m trying to home in on my writing skills as I retire in 8 years  and may, not confirmed, want to write for a living!

Hope you enjoy!

The blogs have been thin on the ground sorry, hope this is explains why!

Mental illness is something people fake to avoid work, or something where men are dragged into a padded room and are fed through a small hole in the door.  Depression is an excuse for being a moody, self-involved and boring individual who wants all the attention.  Anxiety thrives in people who cannot handle normal day life and want everyone to put a hold on their life until they feel relaxed and can cope again.  And as for stress, stress…. you should’ve got a job in ASDA!

My thoughts are that mental illness is for the weak and work shy.  I was brought up on a council estate in Sheffield, went to the football, got a job as a navie when I left school, joined the army then the police.  All very strong environments where there’s no place for sympathy or the weak of mind.  So 31 years after leaving school, sat in a doctor’s office just being told I had a mental illness did not settle well with me.

It all started when my wife Kelly asked me to ‘just go and see’ after a series of temper outbursts from me a few months before building up to the day she advised it might be a good idea.  I knew I had a temper, it generally was kept under control only releasing the valve occasionally at work but everyone has tantrums sometimes don’t they?  One thing I had noticed over the last 2 or 3 years was low moods; these generally came and went with no prompting or reason.  After a while I learnt to grab a bit of ‘me time’ until the depression had subsided.  This was easy at work as I could go somewhere where no one else was and shut my eyes and until I felt better.  At home I would ‘snooze’ and within minutes I’d be ok.  Again I never thought anything of the low moods and thought yet again everyone feels moody don’t they?  Anyway, sometimes the moods would be replaced by a wave of euphoria which I enjoyed.

So there I was, sat in the doctor’s reception thinking I would be let out after a quick chat and at most a few pills to pop.  Over the tanoy came from a familiar voice shouting my name, it was my doctor, a gently spoken Indian woman who had seen me through my hernia months before, and whose opinion I respected.  I was quite nervous as I usually am at places like dentists, hospitals and doctors.  She sat me down and asked what she could help me with.  I explained to her how I’d been feeling and explained Kelly’s concerns.  She took my blood pressure which was its usual ‘through the roof’ which I put down to something hereditary like my cholesterol.  She looked concerned and asked me why I thought my blood pressure would be so high.  I couldn’t put my finger on it and she asked the usual questions, did I smoke, drink excessively, eat lots of salt etc etc.  I, as usual answered truthfully and she then asked, “Do you sleep ok?”  I told her I hadn’t slept well for best part of 20 years, suffering from nightmares and in some cases I would grade them as ‘night terrors’.

“How often do you have them?” she asked.

“Just about every night, I sometimes get a night off if I’ve drank a bit!”

I went through one of my nightmares and for the first time in the few years I’d been seeing her, the Doctor looked worried.

“I think they are causing the high blood pressure because they cause me some distress in the night, and in the morning I feel terrible for a bit before my work or family life take my mind off it” I explained.

She showed me an A4 piece of paper with boxes and questions on.  The questions were directed at me and asked if I was :

Little or no interest or pleasure in doing things

Feeling down, depressed or hopeless

Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much


The questions went on asking about feeling bad about myself, trouble concentrating, being restless and fidgety and  were followed by a scoring system, ‘0- means not at all’ ranging up to ‘3-Nearly every day’.  She went through the questions slowly and after every ‘3’ I scored her face looked more worried.  She came to the last question on this section of the paper…

‘Thoughts that you would be better off dead or thoughts about hurting myself’ My immediate answer came racing out with my Coppers’ head on.  “I would never self-harm!”

“What about killing yourself?” she asked.

“Well I have thought about it before but would never do it!” I answered honestly.  My answer came from thinking that some mornings after a bad night I would think it would be nice not to have to wake up.


She picked the phone up and asked me to take a seat in reception.  I walked out of the door and saw one of the receptionists on the phone looking up at me as I sat down wondering what had gone on.  After a few minutes the doctor called me back in and I sat down, I asked her what was wrong as I’d never seen her face so serious.  “I’ve contacted the Crisis Team and they’re gonna call you to make arrangements for you to go to your local mental health Hospital.  You have PSTD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)!” she replied.  My heart dropped, I know what the Crisis Team does and I know all about mental health hospitals.  The word ‘Speechless’ was an under- statement, with my jaw hanging down she passed me a prescription for Fluoxetine.

“Is here someone at home?” she asked with compassion.

“My wife” I replied, god knows how with my dropped jaw.

“Go home and they’ll phone you, take care!” her words echoed around the room as I shuffled out of the office and handed the prescription to the pharmacist next door.

I walked the short distance home and walked in the door.  Kelly stood in the hallway and looked at me whilst trying to control Alfie, our very excitable Springer pup.  “I’ve got PTSD….. I’ve gotta go to Lanchester!”

In her very own and unique way Kelly said, “Well at least we know now and can get it sorted.  Let’s get Alfie to my Mam’s and wait for them to ring.  And Paul….don’t worry!”

We drove the couple of miles to Kel’s mams and explained to her what had happened.  Moments later my mobile rang and a female asked to speak to me.  She stated they had a bed for me and how long it would take me to get there.  I asked her why I would have to stay there and she stated my doctor had disclosed I had intentions of ending my life.  I explained what I’d actually said to my doctor and she asked me if I had any intentions to kill myself and I put her at ease.  She asked me a little about how I had been and was feeling and a brief description of one dream.  She assured me I was ok to stay at home and she would refer me to the relevant services.

The rest of the night went slow and had to be helped on with a couple of glasses of wine.  I still couldn’t believe it, me a mental illness, nahhh she’s got it wrong and the force doctor will say it’s not.

I had been signed off work for a month for the meds to kick in, so I phoned my supervision who assured me It’ll be ok and I’ll be better soon but to put myself first.  The next couple of weeks went by with no signs of feeling better, in fact I felt worse.  Every night brought terrAor and the following mornings greeted me with suicidal thoughts.  My usual bouts of depression were usually replaced by ‘top of the world’ feelings.  Now I was just ‘down’ all the time, what was even worse was I didn’t want to socialise or do my hobbies.  Kel was making excuses to friend and family why we couldn’t go out for a drink, or go for a walk.  My once passion Hiking, was the last on my list of things I didn’t want to do.  Alfie made ‘do’ with short walks or just his stick thrown down the garden.

It was fast approaching Christmas and to add insult I was given my ‘Going onto half pay’ letter which would start 22nd December which didn’t help at all.  I started counselling with ‘Talking Changes’ which initially seemed a bit scary but helped.  The councillor taught me grounding techniques and ways to overcome my anger and anxiety.  Meanwhile the meds were being changed, Fluoxetine wasn’t working and the anxiety levels, even though the counselling was helping, were shooting up.  The doctors thought Sertraline would be a good alternative and I started the process all over again.

Throughout all this my home life was upside down.  Kel was starting to feel ‘run down’ causing health problems for herself.  Contact with my 9 year old son was sporadic and caused a few problems with his mother.  I’d told her I was suffering from depression and was on meds that made me sleep for long periods at a time so I didn’t want him stopping over just in case.  The real story was one, I didn’t want to disclose PTSD to his mam as she herself was ex forces and two, I just didn’t trust myself with him over night.  I did start to regain slight contact with hiking friends.  The first couple of outings were real hard work for me, luckily my best mate Dicko treated me like he had before, taking the micky and not asking awkward questions.  His wife Sue was quite attentive but not in a bad way.  She would ask if I was having a good or bad day but again, treated me the same she had before.  I tried my hardest to get back into my passion but I struggled, the blogs were non-existent.

22nd December came too fast, I wasn’t anywhere near ready to return to work, but I had to.  I forced my uniform on and sat in the passenger seat of Kel’s car and we drove to work.  I couldn’t have felt any worse, Kel reassured me and helped to calm my nerves.  After sitting in the car park for a few minutes we went into Kel’s office and I looked for the colleague who I was to spend my time with on restricted duties, who luckily had an office opposite Kel’s so if I wobbled, I could go to her.  At this point in my life she was the only thing I felt comfortable with and my rock!  I sat down, saw a few of my colleagues walk in and out of the office and totally cracked up.  Kel’s supervisor told her to take me home which we did, step one done!

The next few weeks were really hard at work, home and therapy.   My therapist spent the weekly hour I was afforded convincing me I was ill.  Kel spent her time on egg shells trying to balance me with her own health, the dog and work.  Work was the hardest, people had found out I was ill with a mental health issue which I didn’t mind, some of my closest friends asked and just said “keep ya chin up mate!”  There were some, and still are some colleagues who have stopped talking to me totally, avoiding me, even turning around in the corridor to avoid contact with me.  But because I love my job so much I wouldn’t let this bother me.  Eventually things started to look up, I was being monitored by the force doctor who knows his stuff and I was feeling better day by day and when I eventually switched (again) meds to Mirtazapine things started steam rolling forward.  My therapy is now EMDR which is very hard and brings back some memories, but it is also helping me to store them away too.

I’m still in intense therapy and rattle with all the meds I’m taking but I feel better (most days) about myself and what’s wrong with me.  I also have come to terms with the fact I will not fully recover and will probably have to see a therapist again if I experience trauma in the future and I  still have to spend a fortune on meds.  But I’m glad it’s getting sorted and my life is getting back to normal!

I think if this blog has a message it would be this.  We all experience trauma everyday of our lives, if you spend years stacking it up it is eventually going to affect you in some way or another.  The people who experience trauma on a day to day basis are the sort of people (like myself) who will say nothing and crack on, my regret is I wish I didn’t and hadn’t thought like that.  I’m not saying everyone’s the same but for most, eventually the thin rope in your head holding it all up will snap.  So the next time you have experience someone who is suffering from PTSD, before you think to yourself, “That’ll never happen to me, I’m a strong person and they’re pathetic!”

Think to yourself, ”I once read a blog where someone else thought like that!!”