Stella the Stork

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As a little girl I was always dressing up and putting on plays for my long-suffering parents and friends. I just loved anything to do with the theatre! Something needed to be done, and I was sent to the Ridley Studios, then in its infancy, and run by the inspirational Peggy Batchelor, who was given the task of smoothing the rough edges off this skinny little schoolgirl. There, I found myself in my element. READ MORE about Annie’s adventures in the theatre.

I first started writing seriously after I moved to Portugal in the late 70’s and met my husband John Holland who was both a sailor and an artist. In the early years we ran a small boat charter business around the Iberian Peninsula. I would write articles about what we’d seen, where we’d been and our mishaps (of which there were plenty) and send them to the boating magazines. When a small cheque arrived it was very gratifying.

Our life was idyllic. In the evenings, when the boats were safely moored, we entertained ourselves by writing children’s stories which John would then illustrate. This is how Captain Cuttle and Stella the Stork came into being.

Our permanent mooring was Tavira in the Algarve and not the most comfortable place to be in winter. So we bought a cottage in the hills; it was the only remaining cottage with four walls in a deserted village. We fell in love with it at first sight.

There was no water or electricity, had a mud floor and the windows were without glass. It was a real 'des res' so we bought it!

John set about renovating and before long the basic needs were installed. There was a fossa (septic tank), a large generator which pumped water from a well into a header tank and a fire with a back burner which heated the water. By the time it was finished there were all mod cons including a washing machine and Sky TV.

I started writing my first novel and John began painting prolifically. He held many exhibitions with me handling the publicity. The remoteness of our lifestyle attracted a lot of attention and the house was never empty. A magazine did a ‘spread’ on us and we became a tourist attraction!

The dream was not to last. John died after a short illness in 2000.

I lost myself in writing. Over the years I have had many articles and short stories published in magazines and I have ghost-written a novel. My 'factional' novel on the ‘Two Ladies of Llangollen’ (five years in the researching) is in its final draft.




Back in the UK, I found myself under the ‘umbrella’ of the Hospice of the Good Shepherd, near Chester. It was there that I met Joe Mallon, a volunteer, and we were married in 2006. Life is very different but very good. The cottage in Portugal, which had been such a happy place, always full of visitors and laughter, is now sadly neglected. Despite being on the market, there has been little interest in it and the present economic climate has not helped. Perhaps one day that special person will come along and appreciate its unique charms, as did John Holland and I.

And eventually they did come along!  Christmas 2015 I received a phone call from Portugal. The caller, Bill Pitcock (a fellow writer) and his wife Anita had been up to view, loved it, saw the potential and put in an acceptable offer. They intend to renovate and turn the little cottage into an eco-friendly stop-over for hikers and cyclists. I couldn’t be more pleased.

Annie Portugal Docs Billy Annie & Anita