Well that's that! Passed my TSHOOT this morning so I'm now a CCNP!
Happy as larry - whoever larry is.
It's been a lot of hard work, long evenings and expensive electricity bills, but I'm there.
My summarisation on my experience -
ROUTE: Lab lab lab. There's a lot of material to cover in this topic, and a lot of practical can be done to practice. I really enjoyed studying this, and I actually found the exam both enjoyable and intuitive. I used GNS3 while I was on the road, and my lab when I was home. I am definitely more layer 3 than 2. I used the OCG Book for this.
SWITCH: I found this tougher than route. A lot of people say the opposite, but I just found it a lot drier and less "fun". I didn't think there was as much to lab, I found it a lot more theory than practical. But it's all good stuff. That said, I still did a lot of labbing. The downside was, I could only lab while I was home - but luckily timing worked out well and I hardly worked away while I was studying this. I actually found this exam to be a little awkward - I found myself thinking the questions were a little vague and a couple of answers could have fit. Maybe that's just because I found it hard. I used the OCG book, but found it wasn't enough. I found CCNP Switch: Simplified to be better.
TSHOOT: Troubleshooting is what I do. I've been troubleshooting complex networking systems (often with bespoke hardware that make things run a bit quirky) for 8 years. I found this exam fairly straight forward. I really enjoyed it. One of the multi-choice questions caught me out, but I nailed all the tickets, so it doesn't really matter. I found some of the tickets to be really good. Some were 2-minute jobs, but there were a couple that really got me thinking, sitting back in my chair and taking a minute. It was fun! It really does your ability to logically diagnose a problem - a very fair exam. I read the OCG for this - but to be honest, I picked an chose how much I read...I found it to be mostly a review.
Anyway, I'm undecided what's next for me. I don't know whether to persue my CCIE, or do CCNA and CCNP Security. Both would be good for me, I'm just not sure where I want to head. First though, it's a month off with lots of beer!