Some very noisy blackbirds were in our little grove of bushes before daybreak. I did get back to sleep though and ended up a late riser again. We expected a rainy day and I had not felt we had explored Leamington Spa, so not moving the boat but going for a wander into town suited well enough and we hoped to dodge the worst of the wet by finding cafes or a museum. A couple of coffees and we eventually got moving when it was not quite raining.
The town house was predictably impressive but we were more impressed by the information on the statue of Queen Victoria beside it. The whole statue was moved sideways on its plinth by a WWII bomb. It was not damaged or destroyed, just moved an inch across. The inscribed block (with statue above) is misaligned with the plinth below.
We were in luck that just then as the rain began we were in sight of the free museum and art gallery. These were housed in the largest of Royal Leamington Spas swimming pool and health spas. There is a library too so the building is being put to good use for the community. It was no surprise that the exhibits were linked to the pools and the art exhibition was also linked to swimming or water. Swimming and exercise in the park nearby were both healthy pursuits, but the water also acted as a laxative so movement of both body and bowel seemed to be encouraged. From its heyday as a health resort for the rich, it became a therapy centre for the NHS with physiotherapists doing a variety of treatments.
In addition to pools there were Turkish baths, also all the rage and as one artist mentioned the attractive surroundings contributed to the therapeutic or restorative visits.The museum and art galleries seem to mingle as you admired the building, the work of the artists inspired by water and swimming and the history of the town.
While the entry to the exhibition was free, Shane put his hand in his pocket to animate the “Rejuve-a-matic” exhibit. Inspired by the dubious health claims in the history of the spas, this moving exhibit showed an old man reappear as a young muscle ripped version of himself following immersion in the medicinal bath.
The historical part put in stark contrast the lives of rich and poor and the lack of health benefits the Spa passed on to the working population of the town. Things had changed a little as the private grounds became public gardens and some improvements in public health and in education for all.
As it was still raining we enjoyed a lunch in the cafe there before emerging into the gardens. Shane is a collector of bridges and the river Leam had an attractive bridge and views. Water was cascading down under the bridge with a fence to catch boats, hired from the nearby boathouse, being washed over it.
The park itself is pretty and has a small artists’ studio and gallery, which I peeped into. The river was also a place where animals were watered and bathed including circus elephants and a statue remembers that. Even better, there was a glass house to go into to dry off a bit. The benches outside didn’t appeal to us but seemed popular with the pigeons.
Even though the pace had been leisurely, my legs were tired by the time we had walked through town a bit more exploring some of the old town as well as the parks and galleries. A leisurely day in Leamington seemed to be quite a workout after all.