Sunday, 20 December 2009


Well, here we are, 5 days until Christmas and I'm 2 weeks into rehearsal of "Gaslight". Click here for a synopsis.

Despite initial nerves, I found the first week enjoyable. The other actors are talented and easy to get along with. There is Keith, who plays my deranged manipulative husband, Mr Manningham; Howard is the kindly, efficient and delightfully eccentric retired Inspector Rough; Barbara plays a kind and helpful servant and Rebecca is a flirty and impudent teenage servant. In charge of us all is Steve, impressively making his debut as a director.

Friday 8th January 2010:
Postscript: I have deleted the second half of this post and all comments, but will endeavour to post news and photos, as soon as I get some time!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

New Look

Welcome to my new-look blog, previously called 'Running for Carers' and now simply 'Annie'. Trevor and I have finished fund-raising for Carers UK so I'm not quite sure what to do with this blog.... I probably will just share snippets of news from time to time.

Graham Kendrick
In the last month Trevor and I have been busy organising a Graham Kendrick concert, which will take place at the Coventry Methodist Central Hall on 8th December. It has been a massive financial risk for the church as we needed to sell 550 tickets just to break-even. We've had to pay for Graham and his musicians, sound engineers, their hotel accommodation and meals, posters, fliers, newspaper adverts.. oh the list goes on!
Thank God, at the time of typing this, 600 tickets have been sold and there's still a week to go.......

I used to work as an actress but due to a change of direction, I have not performed professionally on stage since March 2003. It is something I would very much like to return to in 2010, as I approach my 50th birthday. I recently auditioned for a small part in an amateur production of Patrick Hamilton's Victorian thriller,"Gaslight" at a local theatre (6-13 February 2010). Amazingly I've ended up with the main part as Mrs Manningham, a woman brought to the brink of madness by her manipulative husband. Ingrid Bergman played this part in the 1944 film. First rehearsal tomorrow - SCARY!!!!!!

Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer in the 1944 American MGM film version of "Gaslight"

Ingrid Bergman

Diana Wynyard and Anton Walbrook in the British 1940 version, called "Murder in Thornton Square". This is my favourite of the two films.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Fast Forward

Has someone pressed the fast-forward button? Only a short while ago it was July and we were preparing the garden for the barbecues we didn't get around to having. We were waiting for the glorious summer that must have been over in a flash. Did I miss something? All of a sudden it is almost November... Christmas is coming and the goose is starting to gain a little weight.

Well, our series of races for Carers UK has finally come to an end. Sorry we didn't quite make the £3000 target but our fund-raising page is open until the 30th November so I still live in hope of raising another £300.

Trevor and I ran in the Great North Run in September which was an amazing experience. After this event, Trevor decided to hang up his running shoes. The impact from all the running has aggravated an old knee injury. However my knees were well enough to participate in the Northampton 10K run in September and the Coventry Half-marathon yesterday.

There are no more races planned for this year so I shall be putting my energy into a more dramatic project (a stage play). In the meantime, will someone please stop fiddling with that perishing fast-forward button?

The Great North Run finished in South Shields
20th September

Trevor, tired but glad it's all over

'The Run 09' at Sixfields Stadium, Northampton (10K)
4th October

Coventry Half-Marathon
25th October
Nearly there!

Just a few more yards!

All over!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Owl's About That Then?

It's nearly 3 months since the London Marathon and we're back in training, this time for the Great North Run on 20th September.

Will it seem a doddle running a mere 13 miles instead of 26? Well, it'll certainly be less strain on the joints but I don't think anything over about 10 miles is easy. During the marathon training I had a couple of falls, landing on my knees. The joints are still painful but oh well, such is life. We'd never do anything if we let a little thing like intense pain get in the way. Thank Heaven for knee support bandages, freeze gel and Ibuprofen.

We ran the 'Stratford Summer Six' on 4th July which was a 6-mile run starting and finishing at Mary Arden's
House (home of Shakespeare's mother) in Stratford-upon-Avon. It was organised by the Stratford Athletics Club and whilst the other runners were all supportive and friendly, we felt out of our depth because they were so much fitter than us! When we saw them, we chose to run from the very back so that no-one could overtake us. As it happened, we overtook 4 runners which surprised (and pleased) us!

Six days earlier on 28th June, we took part in the Coventry Fun Run which was, in truth, 'nearly' fun because it was too hot to be fun. Mercifully, it was only 4 miles and I don't suppose it would sound right calling it the 'Coventry Nearly Fun Run'.

Stratford Summer Six - 4th July

Before the run. Oh look, an owl is nibbling at Trevor's ear....
(Also will you please note the Eric Cantona t-shirt)

That blessed owl has nested in my hair. Harry Potter.......?

...he's moved, what a hoot...

Trev looks nonchalent but he was actually thinking, "cripes, this lot look like serious runners - help"

The other runners, from different athletic clubs, do look fit, especially him in the floral shirt...

This was taken approximately halfway round the course.... smiling but trying to catch up with those ahead of us - all 207 of them...

Coventry Fun Run - 28 June

We bumped into our postman, before the race and he took this pic

I took this pic at arm's length and didn't expect this to turn out, especially as I wasn't even looking at the camera!

After the race, all hot and sweaty!

At the time of writing, we are still just over £300 short of our fund-raising target for Carers UK so we'll keep on running until we have raised £3000.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Quit 'n' Run

Yesterday, I was interviewed by the Solihull Care Trust 'Stop Smoking' service, for a local newspaper. I quit smoking nearly 5 years ago after using this wonderful service. I would like to share with you my story of how quitting led to running....

I smoked my first cigarette at the age of 12. By 14, I was smoking 10 a day and by 16, around 15-20.

I've lost count of the number of times I tried to quit during 3 decades of cigarette addiction. Willpower was non-existent. I chewed nicotine gum so vigorously I pulled out 2 fillings. The patches didn't work .... I'd take a patch off to have a cigarette, then replace the patch! I even tried acupuncture, and was cured for precisely 15 minutes.

In 2004, after visiting the local GP surgery for various health problems: regular bouts of bronchitis, breathlessness, high blood pressure and a racing heartbeat, my doctor scribbled down a telephone number and said, "I really think you ought to give up smoking... you can get help from the Solihull smoking cessation service" Sighing, I thought, "no chance" though I did keep the number.

Three months later something amazing happened. I fell in love! I'd been divorced for 9 years and after a subsequent disastrous relationship, it was like a bolt from the blue! From the day I met Trevor, I wanted to spend a long and healthy life with him. (He had given up smoking 6 months prior to meeting me.)

I retrieved that telephone number of what is now called the 'Solihull Care Trust Stop Smoking Service' and made an appointment. My advisor, Dawn, tested my carbon monoxide levels which indicated that I was a heavy smoker. She went through the list of chemicals that I had been inhaling for last 30 years. There are around 4000, with at least 43 that can cause cancer. Embalming fluid, petrol additives, toilet cleaner and rat poison are amongst some of the chemicals. I felt sick with disgust and shame.

We set a 'quit' date for around the end of July, though I actually smoked my last cigarette on 15th July 2004, my son's 16th birthday.

Dawn was brilliant and so encouraging! I went to see her fortnightly, and did not dare smoke, because I knew it would show up on the carbon monoxide test. I had hoped that my breathlessness would ease off after a few weeks. This is no word of a lie - it eased off after just one day!

In early 2005, Trevor and I started some gentle jogging to keep fit and reduce a little middle-aged spread. Little did we know then that we would end up running the London Marathon in 2009. I can hardly believe it now... we actually ran 26 miles, which would have been completely unachievable if we were still smokers!

Now approaching my 5th anniversary as a non-smoker, I give my heartfelt thanks to Dawn and the Solihull Care Trust Stop Smoking Service.

It goes to prove that some actions that feel beyond our capabilities ARE possible. It just takes a little focus and determination to quit and run.

By the way, Trevor and I got married on 14th October 2006.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

A few more photos from the London Marathon...

It is now 4 weeks, 4 days since the London Marathon ....more photos below.

It's been a busy month really, with decorating the house, gardening, looking after guests from abroad, and baby-sitting Trevor's gorgeous grandsons, aged 18 months and 4 years. Poor old Trev has had a stinking cold since the marathon and he is only just starting to shake it off. I had one too but women's colds are always much shorter, milder and they suffer far less ;-)

The amount we have raised for Carers UK is now just over £2600! We're hoping to persuade people to part with a bit more cash in an effort to reach our £3000 target. We're as pleased as punch with the amount though, and very grateful to our sponsors.

On the 14th May, Trevor and I attended a Reception at the House of Commons, hosted by Carers UK. It gave us the opportunity to meet with Carers UK staff, Dr. Hywel Francis MP, carers themselves and other marathon runners. As we were early, we popped into a House of Lords debate first. Embarrassingly, I fell asleep!

Here we are, just before reaching the finish line

This photo was taken with a disposable camera, carried in Trevor's 'bum bag'. This picture was damaged as Trevor threw water over himself (and the camera) to cool down during the marathon!

Trevor's still smiling after a 26-mile run.... am I, but some of the people around us looked exhausted!

Marathon runners for Carers UK
The House of Commons - 14 May 2009

The most-asked question since we finished the marathon is, "will you run in another one?" Trevor's answer is, "probably not" and mine is, "maybe". We've got a few shorter races lined up, including the Bupa Great North Run (Newcastle to South Shields - Half-marathon) in September.

We'll make a decision in October but in the meantime, there is a life besides running, and we intend to live it.

Friday, 1 May 2009

The Flora London Marathon 2009: We did it!

Hello from 2 marathon runners!!

24 weeks of training paid off on Sunday, as Trevor and I took part in the London Marathon... and succeeded! It was a privilege to be amongst 36,000 runners on a beautiful warm, sunny day in the heart of London. Approximately 1,000,000 spectators lined up along the 26 mile course, cheering the runners and encouraging the weary ones to keep going.
We had hoped to complete it in well under 5 hours and kept a steady pace for the first 20 miles. However, we slowed down considerably and had to walk for a while until picking up speed again towards the end. It took 5 hours 31 minutes to step over that wonderful finish line.
It was a magnificent and memorable day - and NO INJURIES!!

Thanks so much to all who donated to Carers UK. By the time we have collected in pledged sponsorship, we should have raised around £2,500. If there is anyone who has not sponsored us, and would like to help us get closer to our £3,000 target, please click here to go our online fund-raising page. The page is open for donations until 26th July 2009.

Here are 5 photos of us taken just before the start. I've ordered one taken as we approached the finish line - available next week.

Here I am, about half an hour before the start. My sleeves look a bit odd in this pic!! I took precautions to protect a sensitive calf muscle but fortunately it behaved itself

Trevor, always smiling!

More and more runners arrive to hand over their numbered kit bags, before making their way over the start 'pens'

Mr Rubik's Cube
This photo, and many more showing the creative costumes of some of the runners are available at the Runners World site.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The Big Day Approaches

5 days to go!

Well, here we are, just 5 days before the Big Day and what an amazing rollercoaster ride this has been. There have been days of euphoria at various stages in our training, particularly after completing the first 10-mile run, the Silverstone Half-marathon, 15 miles, 18 and finally 20.

There have been days when the reluctance to run has been overwhelming due to fatigue, injury and a lack of motivation. And what a lot of days there have been since our training started in early November!

The most wonderful part of our journey has been the support of friends and relatives, both moral and financial, to raise funds for Carers UK. For this, Trevor and I thank you, wholeheartedly.

Incidentally, I have logged each training session and to date we have run 443 miles. That's like running from London to Glasgow!

"Let us run with perseverence the race that is set before us" [Hebrews 12:1]

Photos taken at the Silverstone Half-Marathon - 15th March 2009

Friday, 10 April 2009

Pooch Power

2 weeks to go!


Sorry it's been over 2 weeks since my last post. I was waiting until the Silverstone Half-marathon photos had arrived from, the official photographers for the race. Despite a promise of shipment within 2 weeks, more than 3 weeks later, the photos haven't arrived, n
have I received a response to my 'chase-up' email! Hmph.....

Right, on to more important and positive matters. We ran 20 miles on Monday! I had been battling with a cold and bronchitis all week, but after a few extra rest days I felt fit enough to attempt our longest training run. (Trevor's knee joint had flared up again so he was glad of a rest too!). I started to experience mild pain in my joints and muscles after about 10 miles, but to be honest, it didn't get any worse. We had 2 x 5-minute breaks at miles 7 and 14 to replenish our supply of drinks/jelly babies/glucose tablets, but apart from those stops, we ran all the way. For the next 2 weeks the training is 'tapered' to give the old muscles and joints chance to recover for the Big Day. We're planning to run around 11 miles tomorrow and 7 miles next week with a few shorter runs in between. I thank God every day for the stamina to keep going and am praying we can remain fit for the next couple of weeks....

Having said that our 2 dogs nearly killed me the other day! We have 18-month-old Cairn Terrior/Bichon Frisé crossbreeds called Rusty and Bertie. I took them for their regular walk and was just crossing the road when they spotted another dog on the other side of the road. They got very excitable and somehow managed to wrap their leads around my legs and ankles, unbalancing me. I ended up on my backside in the middle of the road, bound up like a chicken. I sat there for 5 minutes, untangling the leads, whilst cars swerved to avoid me and the mad dogs. Any chickens passing by were probably wondering why on earth the human was trying to cross the road....

Until next week, bye for now, God bless :)

Here are the little terr(i)ors, Rusty and Bertie; they don't look very powerful in this photo.

Bertie loves shopping bags

Wednesday, 25 March 2009


4 weeks 4 days to go!

If someone had asked me to choose between another day's training or diving head-first into a pond full of frogspawn, there have been occasions when the frogspawn seemed a more attractive option.

However, as Trevor and I participated in the Silverstone Half-Marathon on 15th March, I was hugely relieved that we chose the training. We were certainly prepared for the 13.1 mile run round this famous motor racing circuit, and it was invigorating!

Out of 6801 runners, we reached the finish line in positions 5479/5480 in 2 hours, 22 minutes. To some, it may not sound impressive, but there were 1321 runners slower than us, according the 'timing chip' results after the race. We didn't spot many middle-agedies like us either, as we were surrounded by youngsters. I have ordered some photos taken by the official photographers and expect to receive them next week.

A brilliant day and not a frog in sight.

Last Saturday we completed a 15-mile run, our furthest so far, and we're planning 18 miles this weekend. Getting close to the Big One now.........

Monday, 9 March 2009

I didn't Slip, I Wasn't Pushed, I Fell

6 Weeks 6 Days to Go!!

Already we have reached Week 18 of our 24-week marathon plan and in less than 7 weeks it'll all be over!

At the time of writing we have raised over £800, thanks to the generosity of our friends, family and colleagues - we will be eternally grateful. We still have a way to go to reach the £3000 target, but we'll do our best!

We continue to have 'mishaps' and I'm praying that we will make it in one piece to the marathon on 26th April. A couple of weeks ago, whilst out running, Trevor got his foot caught in some wire and he ended up flat on his face. He didn't sustain too much damage, other than a slight shoulder-strain...oh, and his pride, because it happened on a very busy road!

I badly bruised my knee on 6th February after slipping on ice and was just starting to feel a little less pain today when I had another fall! I tripped on an uneven pavement, and now have two grazed and bruised knees and a black swollen hand. Sigh, such is life. Doris Day's 1950 song, "I Didn't Slip, I Wasn't Pushed, I Fell" came to my mind and I'd like to take you through some of the lyrics (in blue italics, with my thoughts in black)

didn't slip, I wasn't pushed, I fell, oh yes
Right into the middle of a warm caress

(No such luck, Trevor was next to me but the caress didn't come until after an undignified crash onto the hard ground)

I didn't slip, I wasn't tripped, I fell, and how
I'll be glad to speak of that adventure now
(Glad? Yeah very glad, it was SUCH an adventure, right)

We'd like to speak of that adventure now
(Oh wouldn't we just? This is more thrilling than the big rides at Alton Towers)

There I was, mindin' my own business and thinkin' that love
Was only a juvenile pastime
Then I fell head over heels onto love

(Well I DID fall head over heels in love with Trevor but not at that precise moment)

And now I know that I'm going down for the last time

(Hang on a minute, I've got a marathon to run yet!)

I didn't slip, I wasn't pushed, I fell, you bet
And if you hadn't caught me in your arms
Why I'd be fallin' yet

(If Trevor HAD caught me in his arms I wouldn't have grazed knees and a black swollen hand! Never mind, he does everything else for me. Er...Trev... Trevor! I wouldn't mind another one of those warm caresses now if you don't mind.....)

We're participating in the Silverstone Half-Marathon on Sunday 15th March and I will report on that next week. In meantime, here's the Doris Day song for your enjoyment....

God bless xx

Monday, 23 February 2009

Week 16/24: Keep Smiling :)

On Saturday I had a headache, backache, in fact everything-ache and that was BEFORE our 14-mile run, haha!

Well, you'd have smiled if you'd seen us before we set off, with back-packs full of Lucozade and jelly babies. Freezing weather gone and with more pleasant temperatures, around 12-14 degrees C, Trevor decided to wear his shorts and even I exposed a bit of leg in three-quarter length joggers. We managed to complete 2 x 7-mile circuits round our village. The first 13 miles were surprisingly OK and we were very pleased with our stamina (for a couple of oldies!) My aches and pains disappeared and we rather enjoyed ourselves, frequently dipping into the jelly babies. I'm not sure whether or not they helped top up the energy levels but we enjoyed eating them anyway. The Last Mile? Urggghhhh, the headache returned with a vengeance and we both hurt everywhere! Oh well, 'no pain, no gain' as some people say. We've cracked the half-marathon though - wahay!

It's hard to believe this but we do have lives outside of our running. I thought I'd show you our more theatrical side. If you ever thought we might be a little eccentric, these pictures will confirm your suspicions ....

This photo was taken on the landing of our old house in December 2006. Please don't think this is Trevor's usual bedroom attire! He was getting ready to play the Angel Gabrielle in a nativity play (honest guv).

Here we are are as Aggie & Lil, a couple of 1950s characters I have created for other church sketches. Strictly between me and you I think Trevor likes wearing a dress....

Us dressed as caterpillars - you can't tell that we're wearing sleeping bags can you?

We played Sybil and Basil from Fawlty Towers in this sketch, but I can't help thinking that with that moustache, Trevor looks more like a certain German leader .....

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Week 14/24: BACKchat

Here we are, already into Week 14 of our 24-week marathon training plan - in just over 10 weeks it will be the Big Day!
After last week's tiredness, Trevor and I are now full of zest and enthusiasm, despite the weather and a couple of minor accidents....
In our area, the first flurry of snow appeared on the 2nd February, with a heavier snowfall 3 days later. By Friday the 6th, the snow had frozen solid and that's when I slipped and fell, my poor left knee taking the full force.
It's still quite painful to the touch, but there doesn't appear to be any joint damage. A couple of days later I rather stupidly dropped a heavy tin on my left foot. My poor old bruised toes and knee now resemble bags of fruit pastilles.

This week I'd like to talk to you about my chiropractor. I had been troubled with hip joint/lower back pain for some years and my friend recommended that I go and see him. It was last summer that I first encountered the wonderful Dr. Stefaan Vossen, who describes himself as a ginger giant, on account of him being tall and um... ginger.

After a thorough examination, Stefaan started a series of corrections to my spine; he also identified problems with my feet and sent me to a podiatrist, who I will feature in a future blog post. Stefaan's treatment has helped considerably and he's been very encouraging with regard to my marathon training.

This is a link to Stefaan's website, The Chiropractic Network, which takes you to his office in Warwick, though I see him at his practice in Rugby.

This week's training includes 3 runs during the week for 20, 40 and 65 minutes, with a 2-hour run on Saturday, weather permitting.

Fund-raising for Carers UK is going well with just over £500 raised so far. Trevor and I are touched by the generosity of many people, especially at this time of financial recession. Donations have been received, not just from our friends in the UK, but also from the US, Canada, India and Hong Kong! Heartfelt thanks to those who have sent money and for those who haven't - we've yet to raise another £2,500 and any amount would be gratefully received! Please visit our fund-raising page, Running for Carers.

Not ideal running conditions. That's when the treadmill comes in handy!

Due to school/work closures, a group of people gathered in the village lane.

The snow didn't stop the Virgin trains from running though - good old Richard Branson

Trevor so enjoyed throwing snowballs - I only just managed to avoid this one!

I captured this scene yesterday; it was gloriously sunny but the snow stayed.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Week 13/24: Let It Snow

This was the view from our bedroom window this morning and I didn’t need persuading not to run outside… I did 50 minutes on the treadmill instead.

On Saturday, Trevor and I completed our first 10-mile run. My hip joint and feet weren’t too happy towards the end but I was very pleased with our stamina.

We feel really tired today though!! Perhaps we’re too old for this. I walked the dogs for an hour this afternoon and Trev has just arrived home from a long meeting and gone straight to bed! Apologies for the boring post, I’ll try and be a bit more interesting next week……

This pic of Trevor was taken around 4.00 pm today

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Week 11/24: Yes We Can

As our dogs slept, dreaming of juicy bones, chasing rabbits and terrorising the local cat, Trevor and I watched Barack Obama's inauguration on TV today.

On such an important day in history, our marathon training may seem a little insignificant. Oh us and to Carers UK it isn't!

At Week 11 of our 24-week training schedule, all is going well and Trevor's knee is pain-free. (I think men from Mars heal a bit quicker than earthlings) This week involves 4 running sessions: 20, 40, 50 and 90 minutes. We joined a local gym a couple of weeks ago, the main attraction being the swimming pool. Once you get over the shock of jumping into very cold water (the heating system has packed up) it's rather a pleasant way to unwind. Last week, Trevor forgot to take his glasses off when he dived in. He lost them and spent the next half an hour blindly feeling his way around the pool trying to find them. Did I help? No, I was too busy laughing at him.

Sometimes I get a bit panicky about running 26 miles. It's like being pregnant: you know there will be a lot of pain when the time comes but there's nothing you can do about it! All we can do is stick to the training regime and try to keep ourselves as fit as possible. Can we do it? YES WE CAN........

(she says, keeping her fingers crossed)