Highlands & Islands

Milk bath a weapon as row turns sour

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra
Image caption Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra who is said to have taken milk baths to enhance her beauty

What was once a luxury of the rich has emerged as the protest symbol of choice for the UK's dairy farmers.

Egypt's Cleopatara and Poppaea Sabina, a wife of Roman emperor Nero, took milk baths to improve their skin.

But as milk producers ramped up their protest over what they get paid from processors and retailers, the baths have become a stock feature at demos.

The latest protest was held earlier outside Asda's first store to be opened in the Highlands.

Sue Munro and Maureen Innes sat in a milk bath as droves of shoppers poured into the new supermarket.

Image caption Sue Munro and Maureen Innes take the plunge outside Asda

Over the weekend demonstrators sat in a milk bath at a Morrisons in Dumfries.

Earlier this month, members of a Young Farmers' club did the same thing outside a Tesco Extra in South Gloucestershire, while another protestor took one of the baths at a supermarket in Shropshire.

In continental Europe, milk producers have been protesting about overproduction which has led to a cut in prices.

At a demonstration outside the European Parliament, in Brussels, an improvised pool was filled with the white stuff until it spilled over and flooded a street.

Made soup

Cleopatra , who ruled Egypt from 51 BC to 30 BC, is said to have taken milk baths to enhance her beauty.

Some historians believe her affairs with Rome's Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony take attention away from the fact she was a highly intelligent woman and an astute politician.

They credit her with bringing prosperity and peace to an Egypt that was bankrupt and split by civil war.

Image caption Milk spills onto a street during a demonstration in Brussels

Poppaea Sabina , who lived from AD 30-65, had as colourful, though less savoury, history as Cleopatra's.

A favourite mistress of Nero, she is said to have pushed him into to having his mother murdered and his wife executed.

Nero later killed Poppaea.

According to the History of Milk Baths , some aristocrats reused the milk after bathing in it.

In the 18th Century, Marechal duc de Richelieu ordered his servants to sell the milk after he had a soak.

The Abbess Rohan of Marqueste made soup with it.

More on this story