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  C J relaxing in her West Country home

I was brought up on a dairy farm, where I learned how to shoot, skin a rabbit and drench stock. It was the perfect upbringing for someone like me. During the holidays, my brother and I would leave the house first thing in the morning and not return until supper time. We'd be helping mend fences, milk cows and bring in the harvest. We were one of the first organic farms in the UK and I learned how to make nettle soup and identify edible fungi. I still make one of the best wild mushroom soups around.

When I was twenty-two, I went to Australia for a holiday and ended up staying there for ten years. I back-packed my way round the continent while doing a variety of jobs along the way, including working in the complaints department of KFC - interesting! Eventually, the 1992 London to Saigon Motoring Challenge brought me back to the UK, in search of a sponsor.

After teaming up with fellow car enthusiast Nikki O'Sullivan, we completed the drive and donated our vehicle, all our supplies and monies raised to Save the Children Fund (SCF) in Saigon. SCF didn't have a single vehicle in the whole of the country, and even though our robust little Lada had an extra 13,250 miles on the clock, SCF were thrilled when we gave them the keys.

When I returned to the UK, Autocar magazine asked me to write an article about the rally. I immediately raced to my local bookshop and bought a book called How to Write and Sell Travel Articles. This resulted in my first article being published and the beginning of my career as a writer. I discovered I loved writing almost as much as I loved rallies.

I entered the London to Cape Town rally, followed by the Inca Trail, putting another 30,000 rallying miles under my belt. I love seeing new places. I recently visited Cuba and am longing to set a book there. The country has everything a thriller could need, including a thriving mafia and the best mohitos in the world. I bet if James Bond visited Cuba, he'd swap his usual Martini for a Havana Rum.




View from our casa balcony, Havana


An old mafia haunt in the 1930's, Havana


Vinales, where the majority of tobacco for the famous Cuban cigars is grown


A typical street in Trinidad

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