I was born and went to school in Cheshire. I took a 4 year honours degree, 2.1 in English Literature and Education, at Chester College (now the University of Chester). I moved to Cumbria in 1975 and since then I've lived up here with my husband (see Pearl Wedding) in "a very small hamlet at the end of the world". We have a grown-up daughter and son, and a grand-daughter.
I've designed embroidery canvases, painted murals and built websites. For 14 years I made competition driving harness for horses and ponies, and farmed at Daw Bank. I was a regular contributor to Carriage Driving Magazine, was a cartoonist and wrote for the pony magazine Going Native until its closure in 1995 and still contribute occasionally to its successor Native Pony.
I appeared on the BBC TV quiz "Mastermind" in 1984 when it was fronted by the late, great Magnus Magnusson. In 2005 I was partly responsible for the poet Ian Macmillan having to walk up High Street (the mountain) instead of the High Street (Barnsley), while discussing the history of trotting races alongside Bob Orrell and two Fell ponies who were sure he could go faster than THAT. However, neither I nor his producer take any responsibility for the accompanying "liquid sunshine", AKA a howling gale and rain.
Dylan Winter was made of sterner stuff when recording Rare Steeds, and thoroughly enjoyed driving out with Ruby and me on a frosty December morning in 2005.
I have had three books published so far, One Fell Swoop, Against the Odds and Hoofprints in Eden (a 2-year project published by Hayloft). Pearl Wedding is self published, as is the second edition of One Fell Swoop. Others are in the pipeline or with publishers, and I'll brag about them in due course when I get the chance.
BBC's Inside Out found the Foot and Mouth Diary in 2011 and bravely spent two hours in a perishing east wind recording what turned out to be roughly a minute of chat and one reading. I must stress that although they introduced me as "a retired horse trainer," I'm not retired yet and have never been a horse trainer (I just train people to use IT!).
I am a panel judge for the Fell Pony Society, though currently not judging much due to knee problems. I serve on the FPS Council, editing the FPS Magazine and chairing its Overseas Sub-Committee.
At various times I've been Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer of the North West Driving Club and still serve on its committee. I own a clever bay Fell mare called Ruby and a laid-back gelding known to his friends as Mr T, who has recently returned from a rest cure - on loan to fellow writer Jackie Moffatt - and is cheerfully helping us teach people to drive a pony and carriage.
I also achieved "with distinction" the degree of MSc in Multimedia Computing, and for 12 years until the end of January 2009 I worked as a technician/instructor and then a Computing lecturer at the University of Cumbria. I now cover a few IT subjects for Adult Education at Shap CDC. All that training to teach must have stuck in spite of me.
My web designs have included the Fell Pony and Countryside Museums at Dalemain; Cumbria in Bloom; Greenholme Fell Pony Stud; Garden of Eden Farm Supplies; Sparket Mill Cottage; the North West Driving Club; the Fell Pony Society and Conservancy of the Americas; the Equus Survival Trust. (Some of these are now handled by their owners, others I still look after.)
Recently I've also been doing a good deal of editing and proofing work.
I run various web forums on equestrian and literary subjects, and helped to start up Orton Scribblers, a Cumbrian rural writers' group.
My current project is a historical novel. It was sparked off about fifteen years ago, when I couldn't have written it successfully because I didn't have access to the necessary historical sources. Today, with so many out of print books digitised by Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive, and much material available from organizations such as the British Postal Museum & Archive and British History Online, it's relatively simple to do the research from the office.