My name is Al Murray. I’m from Northern Ireland and I have a massive passion for the outdoors, especially wilderness survival. This is my story so far.
When I was young, my dad had a set of book shelves in our living room above the TV. It was packed with books as he’s always loved reading. Of all the books on the shelves, only two really stick in my mind. One was a massive RAF book which had pictures and descriptions of every aircraft they had, and I spent hours flicking through it, and trying to draw my favourites. The second book I remember however, made a massive impression on my life, and I still refer to it now and again for inspiration and direction. That book was Lofty Wisemans SAS survival hand book. Little did I know, that the first time I opened the cover, it wasn’t just going to be a book, but it was about to set me on a journey.
I grew up in a rural area, in an old house that my Granda had bought back in the 60’s. The house itself dated back from long before that, and has since been renovated by my parents, however, it still has a lot of the original stone in the walls. Looking back I cant imagine growing up anywhere else. It was the perfect home. Surrounded by fields and farms, I spent my childhood exploring and adventuring with my older brother and a few good friends. We camped, built forts and dens, played cricket and football in the fresh cut fields, the summers seemed to last forever. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to the natural world. I could name every bird in the sky, every animal on the ground, and every tree.
Unfortunately, those kind of skills weren’t very useful when it came to school time. I couldn’t stand school. I learned real quick that being stuck in a classroom for the best part of the day was not for me. I’d constantly get shouted at by teachers for day dreaming looking out the window. Simply put, there was nothing to hold my attention, all I wanted to do was get outside and back to doing something useful. At home my Mum and Dad encouraged my interest in nature. I loved sitting up with my Dad on my days off watching all the David Attenborough documentary’s, absorbing all the information I could. I loved it. I’m not sure of the exact year, but at one point we took an extended holiday to Cornwall to see my two oldest brothers who both lived there. The oldest was running a survival school on Bodmin moor, and he’d invited us to go out and give him a hand to set up for a course that he had coming in. I was in my element. There i was, in a medieval woodland, surrounded by nature, and this was my brothers job! I was hooked. Shortly after I discovered the Army Cadet Force through school, sounded right up my street so I joined. I learned a lot of useful skills, and finally I could pursue my passion again for the outdoors. I spent the next couple of years heading away to various Army facility’s training. After a while however, certain things in life started to get in the way, and so with a heavy heart, I left. I still had the passion though. My oldest brother, who had the survival school, came to visit from Cornwall, and began to show me some basic survival techniques. How to make fire, some wild plants you can eat etc. That was it. That is exactly what I wanted to do! I remembered the SAS survival hand book on my dads shelf and I began to study and practice. I couldn’t get enough.
Fast forward some years, and I’d just left school. It was 2006, and I was finally free, or so I thought. That was an awesome summer. We quit school at the end of May, and I didn’t have to do anything until September. Finally I could do anything I wanted with my life. It seemed so simple, but life had other ideas. During my school years, there was no real need to be an expert on nature, and others in school thought it was a little bit weird. So to protect myself, I sort of just locked it away. So the summer of 2006 came and went, and my GCSE results were nothing to get excited over. So what was I going to do? I had to do something but I didn’t have a clue which direction I wanted to go. Having come through school, and having to lock away my passion, I felt I had to do something that would look good in the eyes of other people my age, a huge mistake when I look back now. We were 16/17, and I was flicking through the leaflet explaining all the different courses available in the further education collage. My brother was watching PIMP MY RIDE on the TV and there in the leaflet was a course that didn’t really require too many qualifications to get in to. Vehicle Body Paint and Repair. I’d never really had any interest in cars but the clever editing on that show convinced me to go for it. I spent the next 2 years training and HATED it! It was nothing like the TV show. I just didn’t have the heart for it, there was no passion. I was about to enter my final year, which meant my employer would start having to pay me a wage, and when I rang him to see if I should go in that morning, I was secretly relieved to hear that there “just wasn’t enough work” to take me on. I was annoyed at first that I wouldn’t be able to finish the course on paper despite being fully capable of doing the job already but, I was free again.
Meanwhile I kept practising. I read books, watched videos, got on the internet, watched the TV shows, I couldn’t get enough. Any chance I had to get outside, that’s where I was, practising everything I could. Over the next few years I drifted from job to job, but nothing seemed to do it for me. I got married in 2012 to my childhood sweet heart, and together we had the most beautiful daughter. Life was just about perfect, except for one thing. I didn’t have a career I loved, and I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. I was lost. So one day after a bad day in work, I asked myself the question,”If money didn’t matter, what would you do with the rest of your life?” I thought on it for a while and the only answer I could give myself was, “Get outside again. Do what it is you love and find a way to make it work for you.” I remembered who I was supposed to be, the only real thing I was good at and putting aside what anybody else thought, that’s what I was going to do. So I created Primal Survival Northern Ireland as a side project to build up, and share and connect with like minded people, people who love the outdoors, and try to make something with the only thing I’m really good at. I spoke to my brother to get some advice from his experience, and he said two words that gave me a huge confidence boost, “It’s possible.” he said. The ball began to roll, and here I am. I’d found a clear direction in which I want to go. I’d found my freedom again and learnt a valuable lesson. Be yourself, and do the thing you love.
So that’s a brief history about myself, and how I got here, and what I want to accomplish. I’m aiming to use this to share the knowledge I’ve gained over the past 15 years or more with everyone who’s interested in wilderness survival and the outdoors, and I’ll be updating it with what I get up to while I’m out and about.
Find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/primalsurvivalni Like Share and Comment and I look forward to connecting with you.