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penny minney photo


Born: London, 1934.

Grew up: Laugharne in South Wales, followed by Barrow Elm Farm in Gloucestershire, Lyulph’s Tower overlooking Ullswater, and Mor Edrin, an isolated house on the Dwyryd estuary in North Wales.

Worked: Nairobi, Matlock (Derbyshire), Newcastle upon Tyne, Moscow, Windhoek (Namibia).

Family: Married Robin (1958), 4 sons, 3 grandsons, 4 grand-daughters.

I first sailed at the age of three or four ..and was hooked for life. I became a boat-owner at the age of 14, inheriting a 14-foot gunter-rig open boat from a friend of my father.  The family had two other open boats, and we were given total freedom. Even as children we knew the changing sandbanks of the Dwyryd estuary intimately.

After we sold Crab, I married Robin (December 1958) and we lived first in London, then in East Africa, where he worked as an adult-education lecturer for five years, and then moved to Birmingham and Derbyshire before settling in Durham in 1973-5.

In 1972, when the oldest of our boys was 12, I became a part-owner of Joanna, a pre-war six-metre built in Germany, which we  based at the yard on Kerrera Island, off Oban, and for ten summers sailed among the Hebrides.  Our only engine was a long-shaft Seagull outboard. I’ve also sailed with Sally in the Dodecanese, and from Rhodes along the coast of SW Turkey.  In 1994, the first year St. Petersburg opened up to foreign yachts, Sally and I together with friends took a bare-boat charter yacht from Finland to St. Petersburg.

For most of my working life I have been lucky enough to teach Latin and Greek at Newcastle High School for Girls (Girls Public Day School Trust) in Newcastle upon Tyne, pursuing my deep love for the Greek and Latin languages.  Sadly that was the time when the "core curriculum" came close to stamping out the teaching of classics in the North-East, where it had been a flourishing subject. Before retirement I began work on an M. Litt.  thesis on William Blake, at Durham University (completed 1997). After retirement I went with Robin to work in Moscow (1995-2001), and found myself teaching English Literature in a newly-formed Russian Orthodox university, and at Moscow State University, while he worked as an adviser on religious education.

I have also been writing most of my life, from earning £50 for two short stories as a teenager, to writing a biography on my father Richard Hughes (Richard Hughes Author, Father published 1984). I have written radio plays, articles, stories and poems, mostly writing for pleasure including for local writers' groups, rather than publication.

For the past 40 years we have lived on a small-holding on a windy hillside four miles from Durham. We have four sons, and seven grandchildren, three of whom have already graduated from university.  Alas, their efforts to instil in us the rudiments of computer-skills and the social media have been only partly successful!