May Day walk

Jackie Sheppard

At 10.00am Sunday 1st May, twenty enthusiastic members and friends, plus Izzy the dog, gathered outside the church in the beautiful village of Blaison Gohier for the traditional May Day Walk.

Completely forgetting the events of last year, when we got soaked and lost (!), we set off through this lovely village passing many charming houses and gardens and emerged into the countryside. We ambled along, groups deep in conversation, stopping occasionally to listen to the birds and to admire the views.

We passed the Gallo-Roman “villa” site and Castle Blaison, originally a wooden castle from the 10th century. Burnt in a fire in 1130, rebuilt and burnt again in 1147 (both fires started by the Count of Anjou!), it was rebuilt in stone in the 13th century. Partly destroyed again over the centuries, extensive repairs were finally carried out in 1960 and it remains a very impressive building. Most of the older homes in Blaison Gohier were chaplaincies for the canons of the Chapter of Blaison, with beautiful facades and carved windows. Interesting notices informed us of the history of some of these mansions.

Always spectacular in May, the countryside this year was exceptional and we strolled down tracks strewn with cowslips, violets, purple orchids and lady’s smock - a mixture of French and English being used to identify each lovely specimen. As the sun continued to shine coats, scarves, hats and gloves were gradually removed and everyone strolled on enjoying the sunshine and views, particularly the spectacular view of Angers.

Our route returned to the village to meet more members for lunch and, moving to nearby picnic tables, we toasted Tony Oakley for organising a memorable walk in a village many of us had never heard of until today.

Just to top off the event, Colin and Dorothy had arrived in their beautifully restored Citroen Traction car prompting admiration from us all. We all agreed it was a stunning end to a wonderful day.