This was a GOC first--a women only walking weekend.
Women are under represented in the Club so to try and encourage more women to get involved in their local groups, the trustees had approved a limited number of women only events, to try and address this issue.
The aim is to get a nucleus of women walking with all the groups, which can only benefit everyone involved with the Club.
I limited the number to 30 for the whole event.This was mainly because finding a venue that could cater for this amount of people for the planned Saturday evening meal, was difficult.
Many weeks before the event all the places were filled, but as happens, two women unfortunately had to pull out at the very last minute.
We met for drinks in a Chepstow pub on the Friday evening to get acquainted with one another and to discuss any questions about the weekend.
Without exception the warmth and friendliness shone through, together with the excitement for this event.
At one stage I looked around the room and was so pleased to see everyone just chatting away, as if to long lost friends, and I knew straight away, that this was going to be a really special weekend.
Myself and a few others left at about 9 30pm (ish) for our beauty sleep, and left the others still chatting.
The following morning part of the group met at the bus stop for a bus out to Tintern and others met us there.
Tintern looked particularly magical in the sun, and after a short time looking around, we set off for the Station Cafe nearby --an old railway staion transformed into a cafe and tourist information centre--with its life-like carved sculptures.
We then moved on to the village of Brockweir and its "ugly" bridge before winding our way on the opposite side of the River Wye where across the water, we could see Tintern again.
Gela left us here to return to Tintern and the rest of us started up a steepish incline, to join the Offa's Dyke path which we would follow for the rest of the walk.
We stopped for lunch at the Devil's Pulpit and the view down to Tintern was quite hypnotic.
Afterwards, it was a combination of woods, fields, and little stretches on the road, all the way back to Chepstow.
At the end, a few went to a cafe in the town, desperate for some caffeine, whilst others made their way back to their accommodation.
Fully refreshed 28 of us gathered that evening at a gay run pub for what turned into a lovely evening of eating, drinking and socialising.
We were all together in the function room of the pub which was great and all the meals were served efficiently seeing as we were such a large crowd.
Some indulged in desserts and all too soon it seemed, it was time to wind our ways back to our accommodation.
The following morning we assembled in the centre of Chepstow for a circular walk up to the next village, St Arvan's, walking passed an impressive stud farm/stables and a quaint and beautiful stone church complete with its distinctive octagonal tower.
We then climbed up high and had great views down and over to Chepstow Racecourse.
Lunch was at another lovely vantage point and then we walked through a lovely wood and onto St Piercefield which is a very large park area with a large ramshackled old house.
We walked beside the perimeter wall of the old estate and then a short walk along the pavement back to Cheptow.
Some of us loitered in Chepstow rewarding ourselves with coffe and cake, and then after lots of goodbyes it was homeward bound.
I must say that throughout the weekend I had only good positive responses from everyone.They loved the Chepstow area and the walks and the venue for the drinks and meals, where we were all made to feel very welcome indeed.
Everyone was really excited to be on this women only weekend and made it very clear from the start, that they would like it to be an annual event on the GOC calendar.
I have had many emails since my return, all with really good feedback which has pleased me immensely.
Two women, whose first event this was at Chepstow, went home to really get involved in their local groups and have also now signed up to attend the AOG in Cornwall in August plus three others from the weekend have also signed up which is great, and I am hoping some others will join us.
The current number of women attending the AOG is 12, which will be a record.I look forward to meeting up with everyone then.
This was such a successful weekend on lots of fronts.It was very enjoyable meeting and sharing information with women from other groups and to exchange some helpful advice and encouragement to the women who find that their local groups have in the main, male members.
Women also gots lots of help, advice and support from each other and I think now that links have been made, that some would be happy to go to other groups longer (weekend) events, if they knew there were women there they knew.
I want to thank everyone for their full support for this weekend and for everyones input, and the great company, which made this such a fabulously successful weekend.
It was a lot of hard work but really worth it and I can confirm that this event will now be an annual one, around the same time each year.
Keep an eye out for it.I will be putting next years on the calendar late this year/early next.
Now, where to, next year I wonder. . . . . . . . .??--suggestions on a postcard!!