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Attracting wild bees to your garden – Result!

Insect Hotel

Insect Hotel

I put the Neudorff Insect Hotel on 26 March and today, 29 March I saw a tiny bee crawling into one of the holes!

Bee crawling into hole

Bee crawling into hole

We have a welcome guest. How good is that! Little did I expect such a fast response.

You can read our article about attracting Mason and other bees here.

We have an Insect Hotel to give away – details on the same webpage.

Val Reynolds, Editor


Attract Wild Bees in your Garden with an Insect Hotel

It is time of year when I reinstall the bee nest boxes kept in our dry cool garage since last autumn, into the garden. I bought my nest kits some years ago from the Oxford Bee Company, which sadly is now defunct.

7 cm bee nest

7 cm bee nest

The Oxford Bee nests I have are two sizes: 7 cm and 12 cm

12 cm bee nest

12 cm bee nest

As the tubes the bees use to lay their eggs degrade over time and sometimes fall out and get wet, or birds pecking at the tubes make them fall out – some folk have trouble with woodpeckers – I had to search around for a website where I could get replacement tubes.

Red Mason bees use the tubes to lay their eggs and the most curious fact is that the first egg they lay emerges last? How can that be? Evolution I know – perhaps there’s some kind of chemical difference in the nectar moistened pollen used that delays development. Honey bees feed their queens 100% on what is known as royal jelly, a high protein secretion the worker bees produce from their heads, a somewhat less amount is fed to the drones, and even less to the workers.

7 cm bee nest with red mason bee

7 cm bee nest with red mason bee

This year I transferred most of the tubes from the smaller pipe to replace those gaps and degraded tubes in the larger pipe. So I decided to add some dried stalks of fennel and hollyhock that I left standing for insects to overwinter. Here is the result, a bit raggedy but useable. Another of my cunning plans – code for hopeful experiment! I use a pipe support for the pipes to rest on and then use wire to keep them in place.

A mix of ready made tubes and dry plant stalks

A mix of ready made tubes and dry plant stalks

When I need more I’ll make them from plastic water piping. One end would have to be blocked off to mimic the Oxford design.

In my search for replacement tubes I came across the Schwegler bee nesting box which has fascinating see-through tubes, the eggs and pollen can be clearly seen. And I found this really interesting website about bees – the drawings are delightful.

Here’s a link to info about Red Mason Bees

Here is a Google page with lots of references to Red Mason Bees.

Neudorff Insect Hotel

Neudorff Insect Hotel

Our Neudorff Insect Hotel is now erected. We have placed it near the greengage tree and look forward to watching the insects inspecting it!

Helping insects find a safe haven in your garden for nesting and hibernation isn’t just good for the environment – it helps your garden, too. Ladybirds and lacewings munch greenfly and blackfly, while mason bees pollinate fruit blossoms as do lacewings.

Neudorff’s new insect hotel offers a stylish way of greening your garden. Designed to attract ladybirds, lacewings, mason bees, digger wasps, wild bees and hibernating butterflies like Peacocks, Brimstones, Small Tortoiseshells and Red Admirals, its wooden structure features different rooms to suit insects’ varying needs, such as hollowed out wood for mason bees and a central space for butterflies to seek shelter.

It’s also a great educational and instructive device that fascinates young children from age of three upwards. Great for school projects too!

For more information, visit the Neudorff site.


UPDATE: We now have TWO Neudorff Insect Hotels to give away to In Balance readers. All you have to do to enter the draw is send an email to:

With Neudorff Insect Hotel in the Subject box and your contact details including telephone number in the text box

Only one entry per household will be accepted and must have a UK or Forces postal address.

Last date for entries has been extended to 10 June 2012.

Val Reynolds, Editor


A Great Day Out – Warwick Castle!

Caesar's Tower, Warwick Castle

Caesar’s Tower, Warwick Castle

Whatever time or financial limits parents may have at half term, a special trip is always a lasting memory especially when you are very young. Can you remember the first time you visited a zoo, or a circus. I must have been all of six years old when we visited Whipsnade Zoo and still have the memory of the taste of my first ice cream! It was a Walls ice cream wafer sandwich that dripped all down my front and the memory includes the smell of the elephant house and the screaming of some monkeys in their big outdoor cage. In Balance reader Karen, with her husband, six year old Ben and four year old Aeryn visited Warwick Castle last half term and had what was clearly a memorable visit and would love to go again.

Karen writes:

I have visited Warwick Castle several times – around the age of 8, 15, mid 20s and now in my mid 30s with my husband and two young children and I can happily say that I have thoroughly enjoyed every visit and can foresee more visits in future, it is that good.

We decided to base our day around the verbal and visual displays that were well described on the website.

So we started off at the ‘Raising of the Portcullis’.  It was great to see the portcullis being lifted and to imagine that you are walking into the past.

We went straight on to the ‘Attack & Defence Tour’. The lady made a point of getting the children to the front used some children to demonstrate the width of the wall – which helped put it in perspective for them.  As they don’t fire the ballista maybe they could consider having some mini ones set up somewhere so that children, or indeed adults, can have a go to get an understanding and respect for the weapons.

Loading the trebuchetWe then walked around to ‘The Mighty Trebuchet’ which was easily seen and heard as the trebuchet is across the river and the commentator had a set place to stand.  He was also miked up to several speakers that were spread out over a wide viewing area.  It takes quite a while for the trebuchet to be prepared and fired but there is detailed description and historical explanations during each stage.  Facts like using blind people to be the ‘walkers’ as the motion sickness generated from viewing the slates could cause people to fall and break their necks.  Tip bits such as using the trebuchet to send dead animals or beheaded messengers over the walls to spread disease and fight a psychological battle are gruesome enough, images that strangely cause fascination with the use of such devices during sieges ie it’s so much more than just something which throws balls of fire.  Which, to be fair, on its own is an amazing sight and the way our six year old’s eyes lit up when it happened was testament enough that it’s well worth the wait.  I thought it was great that over 18s could volunteer to be part of the team that prepped the trebuchet.  Hands on history is always the best in my opinion.

Eagle with handler Warwick Castle

Eagle with handler Warwick Castle

The ‘Flight of the Eagles’ was held in the main arena so benefitted from speakers and four wooden posts which the man lead each bird to in turn so we easily got a good view of each bird.  Our six year old particularly enjoyed watching the vulture as he was “walking funny”.  The use of questions and answer time to one side after the show was particularly thoughtful as it meant that our shy child was able to ask a question that he wouldn’t have done in front of the whole audience. It also meant that we got a good close up picture of one of the birds.

The ‘Warwick Warriors’ probably held our children’s attention the best as there were three main people involved and there was plenty of appropriate and amusing banter between them.  There were lots of visual demonstrations alongside interesting explanations.  The idea of destroying Hollywood film  myths really did challenge the average concept of what it would have been like to be a knight.  They also included some great references for the children such as comparing how Scooby Doo quickly hides in a suit of armour and yet real knights would have needed someone to dress them.  The actual demonstration of this amplified the point.  Once more humour was used to maintain attention, for example, the fully armoured knight demonstrated that he could run, jump and even do star jumps.

Fire juggler and knight in armour

Fire juggler and knight in armour

Lots of facts were given throughout all these demonstrations and at the time we were not sure just how much our children were taking in but a dinner time conversation a couple of days later reassured us that our visit to the castle was not only a fun day out for our family but also very educational even for a four year old.  Both our children couldn’t say enough about what they had seen and heard when asked to tell their uncle and nan where they had been.  “Did you know that they learnt how to use a sword when they were six and a bow and arrow when they were eight” Benjamin, aged six.

With all of these displays the people leading them were all of an impressive standard.  They all kept the audience’s attention well and had a good mixture of information and humour.  The information was also pitched well starting from small and factual for children to recall, to enough detail for proper historians without boring the more average visitor.  There was also a good mix of visual, audio and kinaesthetic techniques used to involve the audience without overly applying the audience participation which can put some people off.  The use of characters for most of these displays was very well balanced between ‘in role’ and ‘not taking themselves too seriously … often explaining why out of role’.  We loved the delivery, as I’m sure you can tell.

After all these displays we stopped off for a toilet break (of a good standard and easily found) then visited ‘The Mound’, ‘Dream of Battle’, ‘The Tower and Ramparts’, ‘The Kingmaker’ and then ‘The Chapel, Great Hall & State Rooms’ (although the rooms were disappointing – not much information and not really geared up for young visitors).  The Mound and The Ramparts were great for the children to get excited pretending that they were defending the castle.  The Kingmaker was well set out with plenty of mannequins and brief bits of information (both verbal and written) so that it was easy enough for the children to imagine what life might have been like but without being too scary (although our four year old was a little wary especially in the slightly darker areas).

Aeryn in the stocks

Aeryn in the stocks

We ended our visit with the Peacock Gardens, Conservatory (although not much to see in there) and the Rose gardens (which were being renovated and obviously the roses were not out yet but we still appreciated the layout).  Finally, we took photos of our children ‘stuck in the stocks’.

Ben in the stocks

Ben in the stocks

I did weigh up the possibility of taking my father on our next visit. He is disabled and would need the use of wheelchair to experience a day long visit. I do think there would be enough to justify a visit for him. Although I could not find information regarding the price of ticket for a disabled visitor – I hope it is heavily discounted as probably only a third of the whole attraction (if that) is accessible from information gleaned and accessibility assessed on our visit.

We heard later of a spine-chilling new addition to the programme: Witches of Warwick which promises to thrill visitors from March this year – are you up for the challenge?

Karen Fletcher, contributing author

DID YOU KNOW? Just an hour and fifteen minutes by train from London, Warwick Castle is rated by Tripadvisor as one of the most talked about attractions in Europe and is the most visited stately home in the UK. It has a variety of attractions to appeal to families, retirees and mid-30 something culture vultures alike.

Go to the Warwick Castle website for further information and booking online

Photography Karen Fletcher & Warwick Castle


The Day I Sang at The Albert Hall

Well, me and 3,840 other people!

Armed Man at the Royal Albert Hall, July 2008I’d heard about the huge choirs of amateur singers that sometimes gather at the Albert Hall to sing together, but had never got further than thinking vaguely that it might be nice to join in. It took another member of my local choir to start the ball rolling and whip up some enthusiasm, and eventually tickets were  bought for “Messiah From Scratch” in November. It was unfortunate that all four members of our little group then did the same thing – put the tickets aside without checking to find out exactly what was involved – so it was just a few weeks before the date of the concert before we realised that when the organisers called it “From Scratch”, they really meant it.  We were to turn up at 6.15pm in order to be ready for the concert to start at 7pm, without even a few minutes in which to warm up, let alone actually practise the music!

At this stage, we had no way of knowing how many people would be singing with us, and therefore how exposed our own singing abilities and knowledge of the music would be. If we’d known then that nearly 4,000 people would be there to sing, we probably wouldn’t have worried so much, but even so, The Messiah isn’t especially easy music to sing and none of us had sung it all the way  through for years, if at all. Our first task obviously was to get hold of copies of the musical score, and even this wasn’t simple as the organisers specified the exact version to be used. Here, though, we were very lucky as our local library still had just enough copies left for us to borrow even though Christmas was approaching fast. Recordings of the work then had to be found/bought/borrowed, and our unfortunate families had to suffer the dreadful, dirge-like sound of amateur singers droning their own rather approximate version of Handel’s great work along to a professional recording. All four of our group are contraltos, which means we sing the lower of the two female parts, mainly to provide harmony, so we never get the good tunes. I have to confess that in our household, even the cat found pressing reasons to go out once I and/or my daughter started rehearsing!

Soloists at Messiah from Scratch, November 2009By the week before the date of the concert, we were all beginning to wonder why we’d volunteered for this event. Some friends and colleagues were incredulous. “You mean you have to pay in order to sing at the Albert Hall? You don’t get paid to do it?” And no, we don’t get paid, and we do have to pay (£20 for this performance) because this was a charity event, and the proceeds were going to the British Heart Foundation.

An added complication was the dress code. As ever, men got off lightly as they were only required to wear a dark suit, but ladies were requested to look elegant, with sopranos wearing blue, and the contraltos red. None of us had anything red which could remotely be described as “elegant” so several hours had to be spent in going around the shops in the search for red tops to be worn with black skirts or trousers, but eventually we managed to cobble together some respectable outfits, and by 4 pm on the day of the concert we were all dressed up and heading for the station for the trip to South Kensington.

Altos wearing something red Messiah from Scratch 2009We were in luck; the trains and tubes ran perfectly, and within an hour and a half we were outside the Royal Albert Hall, where people were gathering and chatting enthusiastically. After demolishing the sandwiches which we’d brought with us and paying a quick visit to the Ladies, we made our way to the seats which we’d been allocated, right up in the Circle. Already nervous and a little bit prone to vertigo, I found the steepness of the rake and the height above the main auditorium alarming and for a few minutes was wondering if I’d have to remain sitting for the whole of the performance, but I became acclimatized to it surprisingly soon and began to relax and take in the scene. We’d taken our seats quite early, so were able to watch the other singers gradually arriving and taking up their positions all around the Hall. Lots of people were greeting friends, while others were arriving on their own, clearly content just to be there and to sing. The majority of singers were probably in the middle-aged to mature bracket, but there was a substantial number of young people too. There was also considerable variation in dress. While a lot of women had opted for the safe combination of black bottoms with a red top of some kind, others had made only a minimal gesture towards the dress code with perhaps just a red flower or brooch pinned onto a black T shirt. A few had decided to take the light-hearted approach and were apparently wearing fancy dress, with one rather substantially built young woman happily wearing what looked like the costume of the Red Fairy, complete with frills and red sequins.

By the time we’d arrived at the Royal Albert Hall, it had felt as though we’d travelled quite a long way on a dark winter evening but when Don Monro, the man who had dreamt up The Really Big Chorus in 1974, stood up to speak, he welcomed singers from around the world! Singing alongside us would be singers from Australia, Canada, South Africa and many parts of Europe, so popular have these events become.

His short speech over, the soloists and the conductor, Brian Kay, took their places, and the orchestra struck up the overture. At this point, I noticed a really interesting phenomenon. Up until then all the people I’d been watching, far away on the other side of the hall, had been sitting relaxed in their seats, sometimes bending down to adjust their belongings, sometimes chatting to other singers beside them. But the moment that familiar music started it was if an electric current had passed through them all, or as if an order had been barked out. In an instant, everyone was sitting bolt upright, heads erect, their entire bodies looking alert and ready to sing.

After a beautifully sung aria from the young tenor (“Comfort Ye, My People”) the conductor signalled to singers on the ground floor of the auditorium to stand. It was really at this point that we became aware of how different it would be to sing in such a huge hall with so many other singers. We could see the conductor, but from our position high up in the Circle, he was just a tiny figure far below, and when we lifted our music to sing, he became invisible behind it! Instead of relying on him for cues as to when to come in, when to slow down, and all the other more subtle variations in the performance, we’d be dependent on hearing other voices singing our part in other areas of the auditorium, the singers who were much closer to the conductor and could therefore follow his directions.

I think it’s fair to say that the first few choruses were a little bit ragged, while the singers gradually got used to the acoustics. At one point, I could see the conductor frantically signalling to the huge mass of sopranos to sing more quickly, but, however distinguished and able he may be, it’s a brave man who takes on a thousand sopranos alone, and very wisely he  deferred to their group judgement and allowed the choir to find its own pace. Before very long, our little group had relaxed in the knowledge that any musical mistake we might make would be lost in the huge volume of sound being produced by so many singers.

One of the delights of singing with these big choirs at the RAH is being able to watch and listen to the soloists. For this performance, the soloists were all very young singers in training for professional careers, and to me at least their extreme youth added poignancy to the music.

Our position in the Circle meant that we were well placed to make a dash in the interval to the bar, so by the time the second half began and our gin/vodka’s were taking effect, we were feeling quite comfortable and ready to tackle the remaining choruses with enthusiasm. By now, the choir was (almost) singing as one, so that by the time we reached the famous Hallelujah Chorus, I think we produced a very creditable performance. Knowing that our audience would all have been eagerly anticipating this most famous of all choruses probably tipped the tension rates up a notch, and I think we all gave it all we’d got. It certainly got a rapturous reception from the audience! Many people think that the Hallelujah chorus is the final part of the Messiah but in fact there are more arias to follow, before the last chorus “Worthy is the Lamb”  leading into the final section known as the Amen chorus. This is a far more sombre and spiritual chorus, and I felt that the huge choir sang it with a surprising amount of sensitivity and feeling, perhaps aided by the knowledge that this marked the end of the occasion.

Discussion of the evening had to be postponed until we’d accomplished the journey back to the railway station, but, once on the homeward-bound train, we shared our thoughts. My daughter and I agreed that we hadn’t experienced the huge rush of emotion felt by a lot of singers, which was a surprise and a bit of a disappointment, but I suspect that this was due to our position in the Hall. Because we were so high up, the sound of the rest of the choir was coming to us almost as if we were listening to a recording, whereas I think that if we’d been seated downstairs in the main auditorium we’d have been far more aware of being part of a huge group of singers. We agreed that it was only towards the end of the concert that we’d really relaxed and enjoyed ourselves, so we’re all keen to have another go before too long. It was clear from the joy and sense of achievement on some of the faces around us that taking part in this event means a huge amount to many people and I suspect that like them, we’re already hooked and will be booking our places for the next big chorus. This time though we won’t get so stressed about our musical abilities (or lack of them) as all we need to do is relax and prepare to enjoy ourselves and let  the music and the other singers scoop us up and carry us along with them.

Contributing Author: Janet Hamer

For more information about how The Really Big Chorus began, and how to get tickets, the website to go to is


Anyone for a Swim?

swimmerAm I the only woman to be deterred from all the benefits conferred by swimming by the sheer horrors awaiting me in the changing rooms?

When my six year old daughter managed to dry and dress herself more quickly than I did, I realised I was a slow-starter in certain organisational skills. And she even managed to dry between her toes! I’ve never found the time to do that. More than twenty years later -and she’s still watching me with a pitying eye as I struggle to get myself in a state fit to be seen in public after a visit to our local pool.

The problems begin even before the swim. I’ve now got the hang of my new swimming costume after two false starts when I first managed to put it on back to front, and then sideways. (I still don’t quite know how I managed that, but it was certainly an interesting look and worth consideration for next year’s London Fashion Week) So, there I am, costume on, towel tossed over shoulder, hat, goggles and earplugs clutched in one hand, leaving the other to carry everything else to the locker. Coat, scarf, boots, socks, jeans ….well, you can work out the rest, plus a large bag for carrying my swimming kit, and my handbag with money, keys, etc are all to be carried in one hand and fitted into this small space at ground level. Taking tiny steps on the slippery tiled floor, I progress at a snail’s pace but sadly without the snail’s self-contained house, leaving a trail of garments on the floor and watched with bemusement by a couple of sylphlike teenagers.

At last at the lockers, I try to think it all through logically. I open the door, stand sideways on so as to prop it open with my leg, but then realise I can’t bend in that position in order to put things into the locker as I’m facing in the wrong direction. By this stage most of what I’m still carrying is falling from my grasp, so I twist round and with a great heave hurl the rest into the locker, remembering too late that my glasses are among them. Now to retrieve the items I’ve dropped – but I daren’t leave my handbag behind while I do that, and my handbag is underneath all the stuff I’ve just crammed into the locker. I bend down to fish it out, and discover that the twisting and hurling has set off my back problem. Clutching my bag, I retrace my steps even more slowly now that my back is hurting, collect my belongings, return to the locker and stow everything away more neatly, slamming the door closed before everything falls out. Then I remember that I need a pound coin to lock the door, and the pound is in my handbag and my handbag has just been packed away at the bottom of the locker. Starting now to feel just a bit impatient, I tear everything out onto the floor, and extract the pound coin before piling everything back in, noting as I do so that most of my clothes are now wet due to the puddles of water on the floor which unfortunately I hadn’t noticed before.

Locker locked, all I now have to do is put on my swimming hat and that’s when I realise that I’ve thrown my hat and goggles into the locker along with everything else. Gritting my teeth I open the locker, yank out the missing items, and shut it again, before pausing for a moment to fasten onto my wrist the plastic wrist-strap holding the locker key. I say “for a moment” when what I actually mean is “for at least five minutes” as these things were never intended to be fastened with just one hand as they’re entirely rigid and therefore can’t be wrapped closely around the wrist without some pressure being applied. I brace my wrist against my knee, against the wall, and finally against the slatted seats – which involves kneeling sideways on the floor beside them, watched this time with concern by several small children.

My actual swim takes about ten minutes, since by now I am feeling exhausted. Sure that I’m being observed with scorn by all the regulars as they speed up and down the lanes, I creep away from the water and head for the showers. I hang my towel on the hook helpfully positioned on the back of the door, turn on the water and discover that I’ve brought with me the tube of body lotion rather than the matching shower gel. Never mind, I can at least rinse off the chlorine with plentiful hot water, which is fine until I realise that the hook can’t have been intended for towels as mine is now thoroughly soaked. Avoiding pitying glances as I shuffle  back to my locker wrapped in a dripping towel, I open the door but am not quick enough to prevent the contents hurling themselves onto the floor again. Bit by bit I pick them up and clutch them to my soaking bosom before beginning the return journey to the cubicle.

Here, in a space which seems somehow to have shrunk in the past fifteen minutes, I fumble among my possessions for the body lotion and talc as there’s no point in trying to dry myself with a wet towel. Retrieving the lotion with triumph, I start to apply it to my limbs before stopping to puzzle over the apparent bubbles forming. Then I remember that this must be the shower gel that I’m carefully spreading over myself. I have a go with the towel to get rid of it, then shake on some talc in an attempt to soak up the water. Big mistake as now I have a sort of thick paste on my legs. At this point I might perhaps be moaning a little as I retrieve my pants and struggle to get them over my encrusted thighs. Worse is to come with jeans, a close fit at the best of times.

Eventually the horror comes to an end, and I sidle through the changing rooms to the exit. On all sides are women wrapped in clean dry towels, their hair swaddled in yet more clean towels, or fully dressed in dry clothes, carefully renewing their makeup and blow-drying their hair at the mirrors. I catch sight of myself as I scuttle past, hair wet and plastered to my skull, skin red and blotchy from the chlorine, eyes even redder as I never did find my goggles again, clothes looking as if they’d just been dragged from the dirty washing basket before being left out in a storm.

How does everyone else do it all so easily? And why can’t I?

Contributing author: Janet Hamer


Seeing Double – Was I a Twin?

TwinsThis is the story of Althea Hayton, a counsellor from St Albans who, after many years of soul-searching, had come to the conclusion that she had shared the womb for part of the time with a twin. She discovered me over the internet, because she knew that talking therapies could not access the areas of her life that were pre-verbal, pre-birth. And indeed my approach, myth-a-drama, enabled her to not only to heal this issue, but as a result of that experience, she found her life work.

This is her story.

“It started with the insight that I may have once been a twin, and that was why so many tiny details about my life that had always puzzled me, were always on my mind. I was very concerned with the life of the unborn child, thought a lot about death and dying and was never happier than when I was with one other person engaged in deep intense conversation at an empathetic level.”

She took part in a nine month programme I offered, the Ritual Theatre Group, and as a result was able to re-experience being small, being angry and very powerful in that anger. About half way through the programme, and after much planning, she created a special ritual to release her lost twin.

She claims that “there has never been a more intensely emotional, cathartic and cleansing experience in my whole life than that day”.

Unable to function normally for some days as she planned the ritual, she planned every detail. Every day for two weeks before the day, she wore a chiffon turquoise scarf that she loved and had bought for herself – for her, turquoise is the colour of dreams. She also took up a wide beige Indian cotton and made that ready, with some white card labels with ideas – ‘strength’, ‘dreams’ and ‘creativity’ written on them – to hang about the necks of the other group members.

A special ritual about the lost twin 

She thought for a long time about music, then picked her favourite piece part of Bach’s Double Violin concerto. With a blindfold from a plane trip, a shallow meat tin and some matches, she was ready. The ritual, although involving other group members slightly, was a very personal thing. She sat inside a womb shape on the floor made with cloth, barefoot and blindfolded with the two scarves. One of the group members was nominated by the group to touch her gently from time to time – in the darkness of the womb, she was there with the tiny companion known only by touch.

The music played until, suddenly, the group made a terrible noise with percussion instruments – the catastrophe that took her brother away. She reached out, taking control, touching them one by one to make them quiet, in order to heal a sense of helplessness that had haunted her all her life. In the silence, the violin concerto played on. She stepped out of the womb and took off the blindfold, putting labels on group members to represent the gifts that her little companion had left. That didn’t work very well – she had to do this alone.

So to the strains of the music, she danced with the two scarves. As the music faded to silence, she came to the meat tin on the floor that contained a painting she had done of Kali, representing her negative anger, vengefulness and destructive power. She tore the picture into pieces but kissed every piece, forgiving and accepting all the negative qualities. Then placing the pieces back in the tin and covering them with the scarf, she carried it outside and set fire to it.

Later, she tipped the ash in the dustbin – they no longer had any power over her. Later, at home and still stunned by the experience, she knew that a final act of letting go was required. In a cleansing ritual, she gathered up the piles of papers she had accumulated over the previous twenty years about the unborn child, putting then into a black sack for recycling. Now, finally after more than fifty years, she has found peace.

She says: Since that amazing day, which has allowed me to put actions and images to a vague sense of something that had haunted me all my life, I have not looked back. I entered into a totally new phase of my life with ever rising energy and increasing focus. Within two years I had walked enough of my healing path to a point where I was ready for action. What happened was way beyond my expectations! I decided to write about womb twin survivors in 2002 and have since then created two anthologies of articles and stories about womb twin survivors and a major work detailing my eight year Womb Twin research project.

In 2007 I set up a non-profit organisation to help womb twin survivors and I now give seminars and workshops for womb twin survivors in various countries. Without that wonderful opportunity to express in the Ritual Theatre Group the grief and despair that had been within me all my life and say a loving farewell to my twin brother, many hundreds of womb twin survivors would not have been helped in the way they have. I didn’t know I had it in me, but myth-a-drama helped me to set it free.

Althea’s story will be featured in the book I am currently editing Ritual Theatre: Theatre of Healing to be published by Jessica Kingsley later this year in which I describe how I have helped hundreds of people like Althea heal issues that nothing else would work for. Most of my clients feel blocked, that some part of them is locked away. Myth-a-drama is based on drama therapy and brings together the healing power of drama and myth. It works for many reasons and enables participants to work directly with the unconscious patterns deeply buried within then. But most importantly it is enormous fun, and the fun aspect is why it is so accessible, liberating and enjoyable.

Guest Contributor: Claire Schrader

Web Links

For details of  Althea’s new book “WOMB TWIN SURVIVORS: the lost twin in the Dream of the Womb” published in March 2011 go to

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