Post-op tour leave (POTL)

Sergeant Steve Blake RLC

Sergeant Steve Blake RLC

Sergeant Steve Blake is a professional Army Photographer with the Royal Logistic Corps. A trained soldier, Steve has recently returned from a six-month tour of Afghanistan as part of the three-man Combat Camera Team (comprising a trained journalist, photographer and video cameraman).

21st Century Conflicts

Sorry I have been so quiet over the last month or so, it’s been manic here! I left Afghan around the 19th of March, did the usual stop off in Cyprus, which was actually quite enjoyable, despite just wanting to get home, then landed around the 21st in the UK.

As most of you would have seen my end-of-tour slideshow by now, all I can say is, what a relief! That was such hard work to get off the ground, I am just glad it all worked out. I checked the other night and have over 8,000 hits on YouTube now, and the feedback I have got from my official Twitter (@CombatPhot) has been amazing!

So what have I been up to? Well… three days after landing back in the UK, I was in London giving a talk at the Imperial War Museum on Photography and 21st Century Conflicts. The talk was very well attended, with an audience of over 50, and went down a storm. Making the most of being in London, Mrs Blake, some friends and I made a weekend of it. We checked into an amazing apartment for the night, visited the Ice Bar and went to see Shrek the musical, which was brilliant!

So this is what i’ve missed out on for six months eh?


After the initial rush to get ready for London was over, it was back to reality, living at home with my family all over again. Six months is a long time to be separated, and everyone has to get used to being around each other again. Sounds weird I know – they are your loved ones and you have all missed each other dearly – but, in a roundabout way, got used to being apart. Using china plates, metal cutlery and being able to wear clothes other than MTP were novel changes for me!

So after a week or so back at home, readjusting, and doing menial tasks that I haven’t missed, like food shopping, I was off on another adventure. This time I was Italy bound. Taking advantage of the school half term, we took the boys away for a week’s holiday. My lovely wife had booked us an apartment about 40 minutes from Venice, giving us plenty of scope to admire the sites in the location we stayed but also travel into Venice for the day.

A local artist

A local artist

Venice is very picturesque in my eyes, although many say its old, decaying and smelly. Well, what do you expect from a city built on water, believed to have been discovered back in 421 AD? The place is still brimming with culture, colour, life and soul of a true Italian city. I just loved it, soaking up the atmosphere was great.

Read about Steve’s Italy experience and see his photographs on his own blog page here

Marny Miles with the Gondolier

Marny Miles with the Gondolier

Marny Miles

My wife had applied to the Marny Miles Facebook page to take him on holiday with us, and we were successful on getting him on the dates of our holiday. Marny Miles is a bear, created by a Military family, who raise money for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA). The idea is to get Marny to travel as much as possible, with as many families as possible, collecting memorabilia on the way. This, along with Marny will eventually be auctioned off for the charity.

My son Joseph, 9, was really excited and took him everywhere with us, and we even persuaded our Gondolier to have his picture taken with him too. The least he could do for emptying my wallet! haha. We hope that Marny is successful in raising as much money for the charity as possible. To read more just search ‘Marny Miles’ on Facebook.

Well, that was Venice over. Time to pack and head home. What a cracking break with the family.

I now have lots more leave to take, and intend to spend most of it relaxing, but also busying myself on occasion with various projects I am doing, which I will share more about in the not so distant future I hope.

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