Rachel is a prolific shoe-buyer, chocolate eater, and coffee guzzler.  When she’s not busying herself with those activities, she’s a freelance journalist in her native Wales and ghostwrites autobiographies whilst surrounded by lush scenery and stunning valleys. She’s a former nurse, with a master’s degree in Medical Ethics and Law, who decided on a drastic career change in her mid-30s and became a journalist. Now, working as a freelance writer who has written articles for the national press, her passion is finding out people’s histories and writing compelling autobiographies for them to treasure.

As a Story Terrace writer, Rachel interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better: you can read an autobiographical story of her own below. Get in touch today to work with her!

Learning to Survive

As I squinted into the ferocious sunshine to look at the vast, sprawling desert ahead of me, I reflected on the sad events that led to me being there.

Death Valley National Park is unimaginably huge; acre after acre of largely uninhabited territory, interspersed with motels and gas stations as the only reminder that despite its desolation, human beings can occasionally be found. But the peace appealed to me – I’d scarcely had a minute of it since my daughter had been born two years previously.

I’d chosen to cycle through Death Valley as part of an organised fundraising trip, as a way of taking my mind off my mother’s recent death. I thought – wrongly, as it turned out – that focusing on training so that I could negotiate the stamina-sapping undulations in a place of unfathomable extremes would bring me some relief from my feelings of despair.

I thought that cycling mile after mile in the searing heat would afford me some respite from my grief. Although my grief didn’t abate even fleetingly, the gruelling 250 mile, 5-day cycle gave me a belief in myself that had previously eluded me – a belief that I could do anything that I set my heart on.

I made new friends, conquered fears, developed physical endurance I had no idea I was capable of, and made amazing memories.

One such memory is my first, and only, encounter with the Hell’s Angels. On the first evening of the trip, a day in which we’d only cycled about 30 miles to ease us into things, we entered a saloon bar, exactly like the ones in the films.

I was fascinated and couldn’t help but stare at the Hell’s Angels populating the bar area as we entered timidly through the creaking saloon doors. There they were, half a dozen or so of them, decked out in their uniform of jeans, T-shirt and a leather waistcoat or leather jacket, with the distinctive Hell’s Angels emblem emblazoned on the back.

I was dumbstruck.

I was just about absorbing the fact that Hell’s Angels are real, and not just film fodder, when I noticed they had GUNS.

Actual guns.

Every single one of them had two guns on each side of their belt holsters. I’m from North Wales, we have male voice choirs and sheep – not this. I thought I’d been propelled into a parallel universe.

But they were very friendly and approachable, and happy to answer our incessant questions.

Lesson number one of the trip: don’t judge a book by its cover.

 

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