Who am I? What am I? Why am I?

Well the cheap Charging cable for the iPad gave up working. I now have a new registered product and hence a recharged device. So a post.

The title states my state of mind really at present.

What’s been happening? Lots. Not a lot I can remember some bits but not others.

I may repeat things said previously.

On the positive side;

– I get up each day willingly

– I usually get outside for some of the day

– I have attended three meetings with local depression support group

– I have spoken to a professional about careers in outdoor pursuits/ field study education

– I travelled to see Mum in Kent when she was ill

– I collected my sister from the airport so that she did not have to travel alone to Kent after flights from New Zealand

– I sketch / take photographs most days

There have been more, especially linked to being honest with GP, Headteacher, family, friends about how I am doing.

Yet, 

A) who am I?

I am finding it hard to identify myself from Mr Knill / Sir who I have been from 1988 to 2016. That status exists in the minds and hearts of many I have taught and I thank them for their comments and encouragement especially on Facebook. I put so much of myself into my role as an educator who cared. Coming out the other side is hard especially as it wasn’t planned and I have no clarity going forwards.

B) what am I? 

I am a former teacher to be; I am a dad; a husband; a son in law; a sibling; a child; an incomer… This is intrinsically linked with the above. Am I needed? Has been the type of question I have posted online? Am I just a burden? As a friend I would tell others no you are not, as I try to support them, reverse that and I find it harder to accept support but it is nice to read.

C) why am I?

Yes I have had a miserable time since moving to Dorset, I have also had some fantastic times. I have gone from the deepest of lows to actually feeling positive about myself occasionally. I have considered life itself and if I am worthy, I have self harmed and clawed at my own wrists with fingernails, a new first and something I am resisting doing again. I have lost my mother (rip) 6 days after I last saw her. I believe I have a potential future but I have no clue what it maybe, I now have some ideas of what it can’t be as I have already considered some alternative futures only to find that they won’t offer me the balance of life I desperately need. 

What I hope are universal conclusions:

– I have a chance to build a new future in Dorset

– I live in an area I love for its outdoor space and potential activities, especially getting out in the fresh air

– I have Anne’s support

– I deserve to live

– I suffer from depression and anxiety and my admission and openness helps other people in some way as well as not letting me hide away

– I have many friends made through a number of routes who believe the above

– I should take my life one step at a time

– life for me is going to include trip ups, challenges, obstacles that I can overcome

So overall, who I am, what I am and why I am are there in my head but it is a head that has time and opportunity to explore them and find out some answers. For me at this point that is a huge step in the right direction.

Gosh four days without an update, how remiss of me

Well a change of attitude at the weekend saw me take more control of my situation. I would keep busy, do more things, useful ones. Stop being lazy and be helpful around the house.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday all positive days, some low points in conversations at home in the late evenings. Gardening – leaf collecting, drain clearing, drainpipe cleaning. Starting to rediscover outbuildings features with extreme gardening or just excuse by me – yesterday was in garden in shorts and sports sandals (top modestly covered). Shopping  – tumble dryer, cd/radios, did bits and bobs, sideboard, dining room chairs. Exploring centre of Poole without getting lost (in geography speak: exploring). Yesterday afternoon I attempted to kayak at Studland beach – not much distance but wet, cold and invigorated. Been to coach junior rowers on Monday. Actually completed majority of open rowing training on Tuesday. Walks around Studland bay – so a lot more positive.

This morning started well despite being awake from 5am, read book, did ironing, retail, went to direct a delivery Lorry which  drove up the footpath trail rather than main drive and passed me on its way out. Started to consider options for working outside and put some “feelers” out. Enquired about and booked self on open day about Outdoor Pursuits instructor course on next Autumn. But in trying a third place at 4pm to get mother in law a late paper, drove past “the” school, realised it was yr 7 parents evening where I “should” have been teaching and talking to parents. Lost plot, ranted openly on FB, lots of support messages from friends and also returned favour for some as well. Lost several hours but recovered for family to viewing of recorded show, although aspergers review of series one and catching up voiceover from armchair made it a burying at times. 

Now blogging and several jobs identified for tomorrow to stay busy.

Thanks for reading. Some canvas prints from pictures taken down here on my expensive camera (mobile phone actually).

Storm Angus and Swanage

Last night (Saturday 19/11) storm Angus hit Dorset in the evening and overnight. Wind speeds and the driving rain slowed by dawn. Local social media sources showed that there had been damage to the seafront in Swanage and encouraged people to stay away. The best sources early on were The Bournemouth Echo news site and Swanage Fire station Facebook page. BBC South later filmed a clip which was used.

Late morning (Sunday 20/11) I went down to Swanage to see which areas were still cordoned off. Keen not to get in the way off any clean up efforts, but willing to help it if needed. The map screenshot from Google maps is used to show the location of the images I took.


1) The parish slipway and sea wall in front of the Square (Town Museum) bore the brunt of damage to the wall. Apparently waves colliding were causing spray up to 30 ft high and the wind was gusting at up to 60 mph. The first photo shows the stone benches and debris which had been scattered over the footpath.  

The second photo show the damage to the tram / rail lines used to move stone to the quay.


Playland amusements that is on the side of the path had three plank high aluminium flood defence in place, but water had obviously still got in. The next obvious signs of debris was around Gee Whites restaurant building opposite the stone quay. The waves had carried in a range of cobbles and seaweed to the west (3) and east (4) side of the building.


The fifth photo shows some debris on the slipway, some of these may have been pushed there by the JCB removing flood debris from the Lower High Street earlier.

I hope the located images are useful for some of my geographer friends and possibly classes. 

A few jobs before Storm Angus


Well we re-potted the tree Fern yesterday into a new and much larger pot. Would it be more stabile? Well storm Angus says yes, because still standing this morning,windswept, fronds flying up, but no other damage. So a morning in the garden, clearing more leaves, can’t be that many to go as most are now off the trees. Re-potting and moving tubs about. Bit of dry wall sketching- chose too big an area as hands frozen, so focus on small section. 

Wet and windy afternoon meant a planned walk to Peveril Point was shelved. reading, listening to music and some tv in the evening. As the night drew in the noise from outside increased. Weather site checks suggested gusting to a peak about  1 am.

We had quite a lot of water down the chimney, so mopping up and gathered in garden chairs that had blown off front step. 

Slept eventually. This morning no real damage around us, went for a walk along footpath and drive to check if any branches  down.

News from Swanage on various channels is not good – damaged sea wall by wave damage and flooding near Town museum. So an area to stay away from – fire brigade appeal as possible structural damage. Posted. Query on row club if any damage at front of boathouse .

…and some positivity

So yesterday was a better day. I had several things I wanted to achieve. Ambitious but a drive to not hide away. I got out earlier and loaded the car with recycled card from the garage, a remnant from the family move. Made it to the recycling centre and one target achieved. Then into town, parked up so a walk in to the centre. Barbers was shut for lunch, never mind I could come back on the return journey. Onwards to Love Cake, but today not cake but lunch. A great bowl of Goat-sausage casserole and chunky bread and Fruit Punch tea to accompany it. 

Next an impromptu trip to the library which fortuitously was on one of its open days. So I now belong to the Dorset library system and have some books to read, mainly about the local area in my thirst to know more about it. Then buying daily paper for my mother in law and a walk back up the hill.

The barbers was open so shorn and shorter easy to manage hair once more. So only one target not achieved – moving fern can wait another day.

The evening involved lots of catch up with friends on FB and Twitter including offering some support to other friends in need as well as receiving support. It’s good to give back too.

Awaken today to a bright new day. Let’s have another good one.

The ghosts in white are pots wrapped against the frosts we have had. 
I did all the trips above with my wife, not venturing out alone yet but soon, maybe soon.

One step at a time

The last week, is that all it is, has been tumultuous. A series of waves of varying size crashing onto shore, I could now slip into constructive vs destructive wave theory as I would when teaching coastal processes, but I shall resist. Each day I talk / reflect with a wide variety of people online through this blog, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Yesterday was a step, a bigger one than it sounds if you say the words. School had confirmed that my employment would finish on 31 December. So I needed to complete my exit, as mental health is keeping me from returning, by going in, returning my key and some papers and texts, and taking home my property that was in my (former) classroom.

My wife went with me. We met the Site manager and Business manager at 7am, before staff arrive. They were both very supportive which I appreciated and thanked them for later. We gathered my Lego boxes, the whiteboard globe, the hug-a-planet and my older texts and map collection I had used for open evening. I had to be slowed to make sure I was taking all my things. I held a focused view on the things I wanted to take home, but it was a surface scan because it felt almost wrong to be in the building. We carried the stuff down and put it into the car boot. Now we have two cars with school related stuff in boots neither of which I am ready to remove and deal with yet. At the time the process went well. 

We headed into town and tried breakfast at the High Street Cafe recommended in the Swanage Facebook group. It was a great breakfast with reading material to peruse about the area. We had a breezy walk on the seafront noticeing the shops / galleries we have yet to visit and commenting on the next bank branch to close in the town. The reality of the closure that today’s visit showed was starting to catch up a bit. The school buildings are on the main route into town but I can manage driving past, as long as I don’t dwell on what they represent. 

The remainder of the day included lots of observing horizontal rain from indoors, commenting on the strength of wind gusts and how plants transmitted the movement of the wind through their stems,especially the stands used for the pheasants. Impact hit home more and more. I sketched a bit, even breaking out my coloured promarkers although the pen and ink drawing was better.

I read articles from local papers, I researched online about volunteer opportunities but realised and observed by my wife that I was in danger of diving in headlong and overdoing it with that too, she’s right. Some time to pause first and then one step at a time. I slept later and failed to do some ironing as I had promised but completed some tasks, like getting the last of the CDs and LPs onto the shelving.
Throughout the day we chatted and made some plans for today some of which will be completed others will be postponed as today is a slow start. I admitted I had made a pact with another male at the support group on Wednesday, that I think will become a good ongoing support, that neither of us were going to try the suicide solution to our woes. I committed this to Twitter and have had many responses.


It has made me think again about solutions, ways forward. Many of you are right I need to grieve the loss of a career which has dominated 30/52 years of my life. Around that as a family we have dealt with many difficult issues too. A marriage that has been so much about other people and now hopefully a chance to go back to being a couple.

I can not thank my immediate family, and friends online (many of whom I have met in the #real world ) enough for all of your support. I watched an action movie last night, it did divert my attention. At one point for a drink break I read an email back from school that triggered a flood of tears, the ones referred to above – the chronology of events are somewhat muddled. I stayed up reading online articles in magazines thanks to Readly an online and much cheaper alternative to reading a very wide range of magazines.

Today – recycling depot visit, a tea /cake shop treat, the haircut I have been talking about all week yet not got around to, moving Fern (our tree fern who moved with us) who needs repotting and moving after being blown over yesterday.  The day is starting to include sun against a darkening sky contrast.

I think that’s enough for this post. Apparently this honesty online is Inspiring to others and for me it is a release, it really doesn’t matter if no one reads it. It is a record in time of where I was at. 

A new day …

I don’t know how this series of posts will go. If it gets boring…tell me, stop reading. I suppose in some way this represents a record of introspection. 

So woke to the alarm at six.  Rubbish collection needs putting out, my Tuesday night / Wednesday morning job. So torch grabbed and out in shorts (feel most comfortable in) and sports sandals. Walk around get the food bin and take it down the drive. Back and collect the rubbish sack, remember to keep an eye on the collection rota. Done.

Cloudy start, still quite breezy from the night before, pick up the chair that has blown over. I decide I would like to drive down and see the seafront in Swanage. As I really need to do now if thinking of going out alone,tell someone where I am going. I drive down, glimpses of blue sky above. On Shore Road I park up and watch then photograph some gently breaking waves. 

After a while I decide I will continue around to one of the newsagents in the high Street and get the family’s papers. I take a walk and several more photos and walk the loop from Jurassic Outdoors to Gee Whites, onto the jetty. Then down past play land and the museum and in a loop back up the HS. Papers bought I finish off ordering an online gift for my wife (can’t blog what it is because she reads my blog ).
Driving home I pass through the town passing familiar pupils on their way to school. I don’t want to be recognised but ok to pass them. At home breakfast – eating ok. Then sit on sofa looking out into the lawned area/ garden.

I fall asleep on the sofa reading the local papers. I am interested that Dorset Wildlife Trust at Kimmeridge are seeking volunteers, a possible outlet. It’s midday when I wake, slightly discombobulated. 

Aha job to do bed remaking which I do although duvet case and me… A struggle but I will be given feedback later. A geographer friend enquirers if we still are up for meeting next week, he is to look at dates. School contact to confirm final day of work and we arrange a time for me to collect my things from school when it will be quiet. On second thought I accept my son’s kind offer of his xbox360 so I can play Forza driving game as a distraction as I have enjoyed it previously. I do one go but already foing shakes and quite nervy. That sleep and loss of clear focus has allowed doubt to creep in. I gather various items around me; drawing items, computer to back up recent phone pictues. I send son away (he reads this too) as I just have that alone need (he is being very supportive, thank you C). I come across a tweet referring to The Samaritans and add the number and local wellbeing service number GP gave me to my mobile contacts. 

I post this piece while looking out into the garden curled up on the larger sofa. Tonight I get to attend my first meeting of a local support meeting,  that apart from commenting on if it goes well for me, is confidential so will not be sharing anything from meetings.

I am going to try some sketching using my promarkers which is long overdue, a quiet day I think, oh and the injured arm – still hurting from yesterday’s leaf gathering but as I was told earlier I had done too much, which I knew but it was a great dis tractor. Maybe morrow I will get that haircut I keep promising  myself.

Trying to relax

Well it will be a week tomorrow since I broke down in school in tears, then was allowed to leave early to go home. I didn’t, I drove and drove, how could I be amongst those I loved, I felt like I had failed. Thoughts ran through my head, some were self destructive, some meant driving on and on. I really did not know what to do.

Six days on, I have resigned from my post as an offer of help that had been “delayed” had caused even more dismay. I can not stand in a classroom again, in fact at the moment my mood lurches like a subterranean rollercoaster, occasionally it surfaces briefly before plunging back into another dark, dank tunnel. I have managed to get out and explore the local beaches and countryside. I have walked, raked and carried leaves to the compost heap/pile.  I have seen the sun rise. I have seen my GP and share all that the last 10 weeks have included, depression and anxiety and no I am not in any state to be with a class. 

I have taken many photos on my phone, sketched a few times and chatted online with colleagues new and old, friends online, ex pupils, family. Many positive things have been said about my contribution to their lives and I thank them for sharing. It proves that I have made many great and good contributions and I am glad that they reinforced this for me. 

Monday morning came and I realised that I missed my routine, but most of all, even in half a term I had formed bonds with individuals and classes and I miss them already. So now I have to let go, relax and release the teacher, it’s hard after 157 half terms, it’s inbuilt.

I am going to blog as my journey to non teacher or will I always be teacher just not practising?

I did it …

I did, I did it at last. Things came to a head. I could fight back or walk away. I walked. I have resigned from my post. A term of considering my demise in a variety of ways was enough.

I am leaving teaching.

Thank you to those friends, colleagues, pupils (ex) who have shared their memories I already realise that I have made many positive differences to many lives so now it’s my turn.

Life after teaching …. A new category for this blog. I will still do educational things it’s in my blood. I am a geographer through and through so that won’t change. But after just over half a term of my new post I need a new path to forge. So 157 half terms later …

A chance to talk

I watched the news this week when a piece came up about a closed group on Facebook for men with infertility issues to talk to each other.it was a clear video report and I went away to investigate further.

I have admitted to a  number of things about myself through this blog over its time. It truly is a mishmash into the ongoing process of life and learning about new things and about myself.

Yes I am infertile. There it’s said. A dark secret held onto for many years that has tortured me for various reasons that I have probably created more myself but like Mental Health a secret held onto for many years.

I now have a forum where I can talk openly. I am not sharing those conversations here but it is another valve / release for negativity that has helped my mood lift this week. Not because infertility has been a relevant issue for me for a long time but because it is a skeleton ejected from the cupboard of my mind.

I have been lucky in meeting friends able to talk about their mental health openly and we look out for each other.

Do you have skeletons in your cupboard that you would like to set free?