Britain was blessed with many natural spas. Epsom, Buxton, Bath, Leamington Spa, almost an A to Z from Ashbourne to Woodhall Spa, twenty-two in all. People flocked to them from all over the world to ‘take a cure’. When sea-bathing gained in popularity, spas declined and faded away. In France ‘taking the waters’ has continued to be part of the culture. The different mineral waters were studied and seen to aid many complaints. A 2001 study by Dutch doctors showed that the effects of a three-week cure lasted for 9 months. A ‘cure’ can be had on prescription for anything from high cholesterol levels and heavy legs to ear, nose and throat problems. The mineral water at Vichy is even made into mint sweets that are ‘good for the digestion’. When I see things like that, I just wish the UK had more entrepreneurial spirit and made Buxton Spring Mints or Bath Mineral Pastilles. Oh, and another brilliant idea is that at Vichy they evaporate the spring water to leave just a tiny amount of the dry mineral salts, then it is sent to health spas round the world where it is rehydrated with local water and sold as ‘the genuine Vichy Spa experience’! In the UK, there is unfortunately, no shop in Epsom dedicated to sell Epsom Spa products such as the famous Epsom salts. (See SOAP). Whereas, a French spa at Castéra-Verduzan in the Gers has a range of tooth gels and mouth sprays because the water is reputed to be good for mouth and tooth problems. There must be hundreds of ways in which the UK could also exploit its spas and their products once again. For example, acid rain used to deposit sulphur on British gardens, but clearer atmosphere’s have left soils deficient in sulphur. In Epsom salts there is both sulphur, and another essential plant nutrient, magnesium. Sprinkled over the ground following the directions on the packet, it will give higher yields of tastier, more nutritious crops. Hurrah for Epsom salts!

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