I was born in Cornwall, travelled the world as a child, lived in London, Paris and Prague, and finally settled in Gloucestershire with a young family in 2000 as we fell in love with the countryside and the community we found here.
I had an unusual childhood in that I spent seven years with my family sailing the world. My father, born in communist Romania, could not travel but dreamed of being a sailor. He met my English mother when she travelled behind the Iron Curtain but it was years before they were permitted to get married and my father could leave Romania and come to London. His dream became a reality and we spent seven years sailing around the world on a small yacht. I wrote about my experiences in my childhood memoir Child of the Sea, published in 2012.
After returning to England, I went to comprehensives in Cornwall and Surrey, then completed a degree in International History from the LSE and studied for a year in Paris after finishing university. I also have a PGCE from the University of Gloucestershire.
I have had many different jobs over the years, waitress, office temp, mail order assistant, primary school teacher, but much of my working life has been with the family business Cornell Sailing. For over thirty years we have organised international sailing events, and published best-selling reference books for sailors that are sold around the world. With my father Jimmy I have co-authored World Cruising Handbook (1990) and World Cruising Destinations (2017, 2022)
I won the 1998 London Arts Board short story competition with my story Does the Sun Rise over Dagenham? which is still a set text on some university courses. I love live music and the theatre and I’ve been known to take a turn as a DJ as part of the Dursley DJ Collective. I’m a founding member of Dursley After Hours, bringing live music and performance to the town’s marketplace through the summer months to help the town bounce back from covid, and launching the inaugural “Much Ado About Dursley” theatre festival in spring 2022.
I still have a chance to sail sometimes, and most recently took part in expeditions to the Arctic and the Pacific, parts of the world most at threat from climate change. I coordinated an environmental programme in partnership with UNESCO which saw sailors take part in citizen science projects, school links, and community work in some of the remotest parts of the world.