Friday, 16 March 2018

Nastya's Final Nostalgia: A RAMSOC Confession

It's Wednesday the 14th, 14:14. The AGM is on tonight: the election of a new committee, and freedom for the old one. It's an important occasion, and I even attempt to pick pretty clothes. 

A friend asked me yesterday evening: "How do you feel about the end of your reign as publicity sec?". I don't know to be honest, but I guess the answer is "Sad". You see, being on committee is quite addictive. It's almost like being in a relationship: your phone buzzes all the time, and it's the only thing you can talk about. When you finish Uni, it takes a few years to learn to say no to helping the club out; some seem to never escape. Sometimes you spend a long time flipping through the blurry grey photographs you took on walks, remembering the views, silly jokes, and how you helped someone get out of a bog. 

Funny to mention, but I used to get butterflies every time the tickets sold out. I was treasurer last year, and, as we say: "Once treasurer, always treasurer". I was so much into it that I accidentally made my handover last 4 days. David, I really hope you don't hold anything against that. It's not the most exciting role, but it's a damn important one. A few years ago, RAMSOC wasn't doing well for money, and the Admin Sec had to pay out of their own pocket to cover for hostel deposits, just hoping that people would turn up on the day and pay. Today, we are doing really well as walks sell out consistently: this allows us to keep the prices down. RAMSOC is getting better and more organized each year, and it is a pleasure to witness. 

Trent Tower strikes 9pm: the AGM has just finished. I post a few photos on Facebook to let everyone know about the new committee, they look like a really good bunch. I am somewhat jealous as I won't get the committee banter anymore, but I am also pleased to be free. I know I will be with RAMSOC for another few years, one way or another: "One does not simply leave the club". I will probably end up being the next Tom Howe*: someone who never goes away. I have already mentioned to the new committee I want to renew my First Aid training so I can FA on walks in the future, and if I had a driving license, I would definitely become a minibus driver.

The next thing on my calendar is G3 training. It's next Friday, in case you don't know. I'm looking forward to the chilled out days, like ropework and and night nav, but I don't really fancy doing Skiddaw at the moment (I always thought it was a horrible climb!) Maybe I can do the Old Man on that day - I have the bus pass after all. I will take our little group to the best pub in the Central Lakes, and possibly to the best Thai restaurant in the UK too. I spent two weeks there alone this summer, and know the area quite well. I'm planning to go again in a few months, and will meet up with (another!) David for a hill or two. The place is simply mesmerizing; I can understand Wainwright 100%. I might even end up doing my hen-do up there, if I ever get married.

I have other plans for the hills next year; I'm not talking so much about ascent, but distance instead. I want to discover the Brecon Beacons, and also take part in a charity marathon in the Peaks. I am also looking at walks in Sweden and Norway. I've been trying to get some friends interested, but most of them say "You are crazy". Well, I guess so; everyone in the club (with no exception) is a little bit crazy. 

RAMSOC has been a beautiful experience. I met my best friend for life here (Tom, have a round of applause), and so many other wonderful people. They are all different: some do engineering, others do history or economics. Some are so chatty they give you a headache, others take an hour to warm up for a sentence. I love them all equally, and they love me back. Last week, I had the most delicious dinner with one of them; we watched Hot Fuzz and talked for ages. RAMSOC has become the foundation of my life. I used to think that because I did an engineering degree, I had to become an engineer. Well, guess what? It turns out there is absolute no need for it. There are so many other things I can do: there are Ordnance Survey and Harvey opportunities that I am qualified for, and I can always start a business of my own. 

Anyway, I've been going on for too long, hope I haven't bored you. Have a great Easter and good luck with revision. See you again for a walk in Matlock, or for a drink at Mooch. 

Your ex-publicity-officer 


*An alumni member who somehowe never manages to escape (see what I did there?)

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Joanna's RamSoc Joining Plea

How to know if Ramsoc is the right club for you:

Committing to joining a club at university can seem like a stressful task, especially if you don’t know if you will enjoy it. Answer this quiz to find out if you belong to our wonderful Rambling and Hiking Club!

Which description do you fit best?

A.     I love walking and am incredibly fit. I am also really great at making conversation, particularly at pubs. I am currently studying engineering.
B.     I quite like walking and can make it up Portland Hill without dying. The pub isn’t really my thing but I’d love to make some new friends. I study some kind of science.
C.     I hate walking, have no sense of direction, and have to lie down after a walk round the lake. I do love pubs but am much better at drinking alone and watching Netflix. I’m in Humanities, and have no understanding of basic scientific concepts. I have no interests.

Well, of course this club is for you, and we can’t wait to welcome you aboard! You’re going to love our challenging walks, especially on our frequent weekends away to explore other parts of the British Isles. And make sure to keep your Wednesdays free for all of our amazing socials – can’t wait to see you at Cheese and Wine night!

B is for ‘Boy, are you going to love Ramsoc!’ We know that this might not have been number one on your list, but we hope to grow on you, like lush, green moss on one of the many beautiful trees we get to walk past on our rambles. Sundays are a tricky day to plan at uni, so we hope that you let us plan it for you. And don’t worry if you don’t like the pub – our Wednesday socials are full of exciting activities. Just check out our calendar!

Read on. This is a love letter from a past C (now B, has dreams of one day becoming an A), in the hope that you will join the society that has given her such unexpected joy.

I spent most of my first year at university visiting the Cat Café, eating custard creams, and drinking wine (sometimes simultaneously), and I honestly had a really great year. When it came time to choose new activities for second year, however, I knew I should explore my passions, and I remember scrolling all the way through the SU Clubs and Societies page to realise that I actually had none. There was nothing that I was interested in. I chose Rambling and Hiking Society by a process of elimination, and because all my housemates went to church/were hungover/both, which made Sundays rather lonely.

On my first Ramsoc walk to Castleton, we stopped at a lovely village called Hope. With hindsight, I can enjoy the beautiful symbolism of that. At the time, however, we started to scale a hill so steep that it left me focusing on where they would be able to land the emergency helicopter to rescue me. But what struck me, and still completely confounds me, is that people stuck by me despite the volume of my cursing. And it wasn’t just because they were legally obligated to (though that was part of it – Ramsoc is excellent at following protocol), but because everyone there is just really nice. And that is underrated.

In the weeks that followed, my university world was transformed. At the beginning, getting to know As and Bs (and attempting to talk to them whilst walking uphill) filled me with self-loathing and a worry that I would never fit in. But that soon changed when I realised they were just super cool people, like you and I. I discovered that engineers have a wonderful sense of humour and a fascination for the arts, and that even very athletic people need a break – they are human! And I got to make friends surrounded by our green and pleasant land (and some mud and some cows and, twice, a sheep’s carcass). One of the coolest things is meeting people from all over the world, and getting to be their first port of call for understanding England. One of the best conversations I’ve ever had in my life was trying to describe to an international student what a goat is. “Umm…it’s like if a sheep lost some weight and also kinda looked like my grandpa?”

By walking, you get to experience the beauty of everything we have in this world, whether that’s the view at the top of Scafell Pike, or a warm shower after a snowy walk. Believe me, never will your cooking have tasted so good than when you’re eating it for lunch behind a boulder whilst sheltering from the rain. And that warm glow you feel after a pint of cider will be tripled when drinking it with new friends. There will also be some parts of Ramsoc that will surprise you. I discovered that I loved clubbing, with a group of people that I’d only ever seen in raincoats and walking boots (and damn, did they look good). Ramsoc made me say something I never thought I would say, that flat roads are not always better than hills. I also found out that human beings can walk faster than buses when walking back from town with experienced ramblers (I trailed behind).

But that brings me to a good point – will you be any fitter after joining Ramsoc? Well, I like to think so. The two flights of stairs in my Lenton house definitely became easier, and I think Ramsoc makes exercise enjoyable to unfit and non-competitive people (both me). I used to be like an opossum in that if I sensed too much movement I would lie down and play dead. Now I’m more like a…tortoise? Rhino? Jellyfish? I’m not very good at animal metaphors… But I do know that I exercise much more – currently I’m swimming every day and have joined an underwater hockey team, because once you join one eccentric sport, you can’t go back. And Ramsoc definitely motivated me to start getting fitter, because I can’t wait to return from my year abroad and try out some higher level walks.

If I was really talking to Joanna-from-a-year-ago, I don’t think she would want to be fitter, or climb bigger hills. I know she definitely wouldn’t like the mud or the rain. But I know that she would jump at the chance to see more of England (and get some Insta followers for her filter-free snaps of Snowdon). I know that she’d love having something on her schedule every week to look forward to, and people there every week to look forward to. It’s even better that those people are charming and funny and kind and incredibly attractive (I was not paid to say this, but am willing to accept gifts).

And I know that she would like to see me, one year on from joining Ramsoc. No huge changes, but walking taller, small-talk better, a little bit worse at holding her liquor, and definitely smiling a little wider.

To my Cs, I really hope you have as rewarding a year at Ramsoc as I did.

All the best, 

Proud Ramsoc member <...and honorary RamSoc Blog Manager>

Saturday, 13 May 2017

RAMSOC in reality

by Joanna van Zeller

Think you can only use your walking skills in the Peak District? Think again, as I teach you how I’ve learned to conquer the struggles of city living with everything I’ve learned in Ramsoc. 

Sometimes, after the long coach rides and the arguments that don’t seem to resemble English (was that a tor or a fell? A beck or a brook?), rambling and hillwalking can become rather other-worldly. Sundays seem to be on a separate calendar, which is especially true when you see everyone out of their fleeces and in Real Normal People’s Clothes at a Wednesday social. And everything you’ve learned on a walk or weekend away, like how to read a map or take a bearing, can seem completely irrelevant during a 9am on a Monday. But it doesn’t have to be that way! By following these top tips, every day can be a Sunday, and can even make those chores that little bit easier…

Find your way out of Ocean!

Our Treasurer David Dewar is grateful for this tip - he's been stuck in Bodega for weeks!

Did you get lost in the beauty of Baywatch and suddenly realise that you have no idea how to leave? No worries, I’m sure you all know how to make a compass using a magnetised hairpin in a glass of water – simply replace the water with your vodka-lemonade and magnetise the hairpin with your H&M dress and you’re good to go. A few bearings and a peek at your OS map that I’m sure you’ve smuggled in, and you’ll be home in no time. Unfortunately this does not work for the Victoria Centre – once you’ve entered there, you’re in for good.

Defeat Portland Hill

Sometimes I am so exhausted from my eight hours per week of lectures (ah, humanities) that I think about catching the Jubilee hopper bus from its stop at George Green Library to the top of Portland Hill. The journey, on a busy day, takes maybe 30 seconds on foot, but there is something about that hill that beats me every time. Maybe it’s the fact that joyless Hallward waits for me at the top… Anyway, I now have a little voice that accompanies me up that hill, which shouts “You made it up Place Fell, you made it up Lose Hill and one day, by Jove, you’ll make it up Win Hill. So you can definitely get up this lousy one too!” (My inner voice sounds like a 1940s pilot.) And with that, I march up faster than any other hungover student. Ramsoc has made me King of the campus, King of Derby Road, and even King of the Castle (or the road leading up to it, at least!)

Save your housemate’s life

Let’s face it, we all have that one housemate who we are surprised is still alive. Whether this is from drunken dares or the lack of basic culinary skills, we wake up each day and hand them plasters because we know they’ll need them for something. But worry no more fellow ramblers! By taking Ramsoc’s First Aid course and becoming a trained First Aider, you can give them a fireman’s lift from Crisis, and bandage wounds on any body part (apologies in advance for the awkward outcomes this can lead to).

Befriending local wildlife

I don’t mean to brag, but as a result of Ramsoc, I’ve become quite the matador. Every Sunday I risk my life parading past cows with my cape, an old red anorak, and they daren’t come near me. The same can be said for the particularly vicious breeds of Peak District sheep. And you too can learn and bring your new-fangled Doctor Doolittle charms to the big city! I’ll admit that the Nottingham wildlife is (mostly) tamer, but now that you know their wilder friends, the cats and pigeons will be begging to roll over for belly rubs, especially my BFF Bertie the Hallward Cat. You might even be able to snap a selfie with a deer!

And this is just the start of the ways that Ramsoc will enrich your everyday experience. Ramsoc has taught me that I can survive huge lengths of time on just Haribo and Jelly Babies, which is very useful during exam time. Once you’ve taken the minibus test and driven us through the Lake District, you can then pull off daredevil Top Gear-style driving whilst trying to park in Lenton. And now I’ve learned how to fold an OS map, I can do the most complex origami effortlessly. So try these out next time you’re stuck in Ocean or facing an aggressive snail, and let me know in the comments what everyday skills Ramsoc has taught you!

Sunday, 8 May 2016

An account of The Dark Peak Marathon, 2015

Last year, I took part in the Dark Peak Marathon (DPM), an event Ramsoc runs every year where participants walk 24 or 37 miles around the peak district, seeing some of the best sights, from Mam Tor and Kinder, to Ladybower reservoir. This is a short account of my experience of the DPM.

The early start was immediately worth it when we arrived at Ladybower Reservoir- the surrounding hills were picturesque in the early morning sun, and everyone was raring to go. The weather was forecast to remain like this for the whole day, adding to everyone’s excitement, however far they were walking (I was doing the 24 mile route). We were split into groups – so that every group had someone capable of reading a map and any necessary group kit. After a group photo over the Ladybower dam, everyone set out for a day of walking.

The first hill was hardest of the day. Halfway up, I was questioning my sanity- why had I decided to do this, was I out of mind? I carried on thinking so before suddenly realising we’d reached the top of Win hill, and could see both Ladybower reservoir behind, and the great ridge where we’d be heading later in the day. The first hill of the day deserved a snack break while we took in the beautiful views, before setting off for the great ridge.

Before getting to the Great Ridge, we had to descend Win Hill before ascending Lose Hill. I was prepared for the hill this time though, and was pleasantly surprised when we reached the top. From there, we walked along the great ridge, with views of Castleton and Edale valley on either side. Upon reaching the peak of Mam Tor, we reached the first check point (one down- several more to go!). We were ahead of time, so after a short break; we left the checkpoint and headed to the edge of Kinder. On the way, we passed Jacob’s ladder and Kinder downfall. Kinder Downfall was particularly epic; the wind at the top of the fall caused some of the water to be blown back at us as we walked by. We next came to the checkpoint at Snake’s pass, where we stopped for an overdue lunch.

The wind picked up during lunch, so I was happy to head downhill toward Snake Inn. However, the sun was shining, and walking through the woods near Snake Inn was very relaxing after the past couple of weeks of exams. As we were ahead of time, we took the last few miles of the DPM at a more leisurely pace and enjoyed the glorious weather and lovely surroundings. Even the last hill at Alport Castles couldn’t dishearten me, and the knowledge that the end was near spurred me on. At approximately 6 o’clock, we descended into Fairholmes, to complete the 24 mile DPM. Even though my legs ached after the days walking (my phone recorded that I’d taken 60000 steps that day), I was extremely satisfied. It only sunk in then how far we’d come, and what an achievement completing the DPM was. After all the groups competing in the 24 mile version arrived at the finish point, we did what Ramsoc does best- we headed for the pub.

After a day’s walking, being able to sit down and relax at the pub was the greatest feeling. Although I would have eaten anything at that point, the food at the pub was excellent (I had BBQ ribs) and everyone enjoyed a couple of well-earned pints. It was a great way to finish such a rewarding day. It was dark when we left the peak district, and the journey back was somewhat quieter than the morning journey- the only person who managed to stay awake the whole journey was the bus driver (I think). I was very ready for the bed when I arrived back at my room in halls, but even in my exhausted state, I knew I’d had a brilliant time doing the DPM, and couldn’t wait the take part again in the future.

Tom Roche

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Snowdonia Grade 3 training, 4th - 7th April 2016


Buzz, buzz, buzz, across the bunkhouse, as several mobile phones inform us that it is time to get going for Day 1 of our Grade 3 Training. A hive of activity, several showers, sandwiches prepared and ultimately we are all out for 08:30 (well nearly) as Tom had requested.

Into the minibus we go, the day is looking okay. Not exactly blazing sunshine but visibility is good and the mountains of Snowdonia look fantastic. We travel for a little while and the scenery starts to change. ‘You do realise we are driving away from all the mountains here Tom?’ says a perplexed Lee. Suddenly after 40 minutes we stop. Off the bus and its relocate time. Essentially, find yourself on the map, not a lot to go on here haha, a railway line, a lake, an arterial road and a welcome board to a specific area. So we all knew where we were (Rhyd-Ddu) and I guess if we failed here it was going to be a long week! However, we enjoyed it while it lasted for now we were going into the world of micro-nav and detailed micro-nav at that, where we expected to give several reasons to one of the leaders as to why we were specifically in this precise location.
We were split into pairs, and the leaders explaining how teamwork is so important; that when leading a Ramsoc walk we will primarily work in pairs and so it is a useful skill to have. It was James Smith and Military James (sorry, no heroic tale to tell here, I do believe he is destined for great things though) turn to lead after being shown a point on the map. The rest of the group put our maps away and we followed the two James’. Continuing along the bridleway everything appeared fairly straightforward and suddenly they stop. They have a small discussion and then they leave the path and venture across the boggy ground. The two James’ debate for a while and they call one of the four leaders across (Tom Howe, Aneurin Davies, Andy Pickup and Louisa Cox) to explain why they believe they are in the right location. Once this is confirmed, the rest of our group take out our maps and it now our chance to relocate.

However, this was to be the exact location. It was no longer useful to say we can see Llyn Cwellyn reservoir from here or Y Garn Mountain to give us an approximate location and then narrow it down with boundary features. The premise of this training was to look at a more immediate area and primarily to put into practice three skills for gaining location. Remembering our journey (what we had seen along the way), pacing ( how many double steps it takes to travel 100m, which varies for everyone but is exceptionally useful) and the use of contours. Contours being particularly important, as the leaders explained, land features will change and maps become dated but contours should be the same. Tom was to further show this fact later when he showed us a 1:50K map which lacks the boundary features of the 1:25K and yet we could still locate ourselves adequately using the contours and other natural land features. Once relocation had been verified, it was then the turn of the next pairing.

This pattern of leading in pairs to a new location and establishing known location was to continue throughout the day as we made our way along the bridleway and public footpath until we attained the summit of Snowdonia. Whilst it had taken a while to summit the mountain, the wealth of knowledge we accrued along the way was truly remarkable and as we stood on top of the summit, seeing the lovely views of mist, we could be proud of gaining extra skills. We made our way down the mountain and had been asked approximately how long it would take to descend the mountain. Two hours in total, with a brave Lee stoically refusing to let the pain of his ankle hold him back after his unfortunate lunchtime slip on a rock I had literally just stepped on!

Back to the bunkhouse we went, where Tom Howe and his helpers produced a fantastic chicken curry and then the lads rolled up their sleeves and kicked into action doing the washing up. We all got refreshed and then at 21:00 we split into groups and partook in theory led by Tom as to the responsibilities a grade 3 leader would have. A great day was had but we were all certainly ready for our beds!
David Park 


Tuesday dawned for the RAMSOC trainees and brought with it the rope work section of the Grade 3 training. The first part of the section was all about finding suitable ground anchors (technical term for a rock!) that we could tie a rope to. In order to test a rock’s suitability various techniques had to be carried out including kicking the rock to see if it would move or wobble. For this reason, the name quickly changed from ‘rope work’ to ‘the rock kicking course’. After this we were sent in pairs to practise body belaying which involves using a rope to ensure somebody’s safety on a steep ascent or descent.
Then disaster struck. We were stuck on a hillside with a casualty! Admittedly this was a purely metaphorical casualty but the principles were the same. We were about to be taught methods for moving the casualty to safety.  The first way is a fireman’s lift where one person carries the casualty on their shoulder. Next came a take on the classic piggyback which involved using a rucksack to help support the casualty, which Anna and I demonstrated brilliantly! The final method was to use a bright orange survival bag as an improvised stretcher. We carried Tom successfully down the 120m rocky and boggy hillside to the safety of civilisation. A great display of team work!
Thanks to some great techniques from Tom and Neu, you can rest assured that your grade 3 walk leader will know what to do.
The adventure continued with an inspirational visit and tour of the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue and I really need to get myself some of their equipment (talk about hiker’s envy). It also saw the most intense tug of war in the history of RAMSOC, with Louisa easily thrashing four guys.

Straight after our Mountain Rescue visit we had the night Nav part of the training. This involved using techniques learnt during the micro Nav exercises during the day but with the limitation of only being able to see as far as our torches would reach. We were split into pairs and had to come up with a plan to get to a chosen position on the map. Afterwards, a well deserved hot dessert and a few hours rest ready for the adventures of Wednesday.  
James Pailing 


Fresh from our nighthike the night before we had a leisurely breakfast in the bunkhouse before leaving for our day out on the hills. We set off in the minibus and parked at Idwal cottage, a place now very familiar to us after our escapades the day before! The car park was less full than yesterday – a forecast of bad weather had put many people off walking today!

Kitted up in many layers (well I at least had 6) and paired up to continue micro-nav we retraced our steps up the path to where we were doing rope work on Tuesday.  We continued past until we got to Llyn (lake) Idwal and then paused for some relocation! The weather was still sunny but this was soon to change…

We left the lake, ascending on an unmarked path and crossing a couple of fast running streams. Pausing for lunch we enjoyed the view of Llyn Idwal below and watched the clouds draw in. The wind picked up speed and over the lake a small whirlwind formed which was quite impressive to watch!

The next part of the day was even more exciting; we were about to start a scramble up senior’s gully. Since safety whilst doing a scramble is paramount our scramble leaders Tom Howe and Neu carefully arranged us into an order we had to follow the whole way up. After a short briefing on the finer aspects of the scramble techniques we set off! There was a buzz of excitement and anticipation in the air as Alex led us up into the gully. The journey up the gully was slow as everyone helped each other up the more tricky sections but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and there were times when we could stop and enjoy the views!
Eventually we made it to the top, where we were not best pleased to discover the ground was rather boggy! After a brief pause for relocation, some much needed Haribo and time to admire the views we were on our way to find another unmarked path; this task involved jumping across a few streams! Soon we were on a more rocky path, hugging a contour line parallel to the lake below. Now for some more dramatic weather; this time hail and 40mph winds!

Struggling against the winds, eventually Nastya and I caught up with the rest of the group and then we all began the descent back down to the lake.

Once back at the lake we reconvened before practising some more micro-nav. This time we went off the path over, you’ve guessed it, more mud. When Dan and I carried out our micro-nav, practising the navigational art of leap-frogging 100 m at a time, the mud did prove quite entertaining. Dan slipped straight down before our eyes ending up with a spectacularly muddy bum! I couldn’t laugh for too long though – the next morning the same happened to me!

The walk held one more surprise for us after traversing the muddy fields. We descended down some more rocks and found ourselves surrounded by sheer rock on both sides, and behind us a lovely little pond. It was spectacular, and almost cathedral like! Then, after hopping over a stile, as suddenly as we had discovered it we left it and were back at the car park.

Our day wasn’t over yet though - when we got back to the bunkhouse it was time for packing and some more theory before a lovely dinner of sweet and sour pork. After dinner we relaxed in the lounge, not quite believing that tonight was the last night of Grade 3. It had all gone very quickly!
Louisa Cox

To be continued...

Tuesday, 15 March 2016


Ramsoc. University of Nottingham Sport: Rambling and Hillwalking. Formerly Rambling and Hillwalking Society and before that: Rambling Society. So far you’ve learnt – if you didn’t know already – how the club came to acquire its name. But for me, to pose the question ‘what’s in a name?’  with regard to Ramsoc reveals so much more than a few rebrands, be they initiated by the club itself or the Students’ Union, and I’d like to explore this and reflect on what Ramsoc means to me.

I first joined the club as first year back in September 2012. Prior to starting university, I - like thousands of other sixth-form leavers fresh out of Year 13 - was extremely apprehensive and nervous about starting my degree, moving away from home and building a social life. Granted, I didn’t move far from home, but the University of Nottingham felt like a world apart from the small town I grew up in, grew tired of by my mid-teens but sometime grew to appreciate more after moving away. For a large part of my life, I never really knew where I fitted in and only began to grow in confidence towards the end of my school career. No wonder I was nervous about starting from scratch in a strange environment where I wouldn’t know a soul.

I can vividly remember browsing the Students’ Union website in January during my final year of school – chances are I was procrastinating from coursework. On the main page I could see a column listing upcoming events and it struck me that there was a club that ran walking trips. If you know me well, my rather freakish memory for detail will be very familiar to you by now; the walk destination was the Manifold Valley, and the date was 29th January 2012, which naturally was a Sunday, like all Ramsoc walks. Growing up in Derbyshire, walking was by no means an alien activity to me, and despite my reluctance to go on walks as a child (remedied by my dad’s decision to buy me a GPS for Christmas in 2005 and introduce me to Geocaching), I knew that it was something I could happily get into again. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I can retrospectively see that that evening four years and two months ago would be the start of my relationship with the club. However, I forgot about it for the time being and focussed on my A-Levels.

Seven months later I got up on a Thursday morning, logged into UCAS Track and found that my place at the University of Nottingham had been confirmed (to use their words). I was delighted – my hard work had paid off and I would be off to study the course I wanted to do at world-class university. The world was my oyster. At that point, I started thinking again about the sorts of activities I would get involved in at university. I told my dad that I’d seen Ramsoc on the SU website and I quickly realised that joining the club was – to use a cliché – a no brainer. I’d meet people with the same interests as me and have the opportunity to see the UK beyond Nottingham. The fact that I’d be venturing near to my hometown every weekend was immaterial. Ironically perhaps, I didn’t actually go home at all in my very first semester. I purchased some cheap walking boots – at this point unsure whether I’d enjoy it. I had high hopes for Ramsoc but even my naive eighteen-year-old self  knew deep down that sometimes things don’t always work out as hoped.

Fortunately, my hopes were fulfilled. I moved into my room on campus, said hello to my flatmates and went to countless meetings during my first week as I sought to find my feet in this new, unfamiliar setting. I took a gander down to Freshers’ Fair to meet the people running the societies I had joined (online, naturally – following advice from my older cousins). The committee members didn’t really have to persuade me as I was already pretty much sold, but I suppose that was testament to the effectiveness of their marketing strategy! I enjoyed the first social event and the first walk and quickly became an enthusiastic member. Though one Wednesday evening in October when I could have been with Ramsoc, I had decided to go out with the people in my block (even today I’m too embarrassed to describe it) which I regretted, but from that point on I knew for certain where I wanted to spend my time.
My first year in Ramsoc was full of memorable moments: seemingly by chance meeting a girl on the Portland steps who would later become one of my closest friends, singing songs with questionable lyrical content on the coach on the way back from Snowdonia and a bonfire party involving a mining cart that had been acquired under rather dubious circumstances which I won’t talk about here. There are many more I could list if I had the time.
From very early on, I had been keen to give something back to the club that had done so much for me, so I jumped at the chance to take part in the Grade 2 leadership training. To some people of sound mind, spending an entire day on the hills around Edale may not sound like much fun, and I wasn’t sure myself what it would be like. I had a tremendous amount of fun and felt that I had really learnt a lot. My leadership experience at that point was virtually non-existent, so it was a huge learning curve. I’m proud to say I persevered and went on to become, if I may so myself, a competent Grade 2 leader, which I regard as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Not only did I grow in confidence with my leadership skills, but I felt that I was giving back to a club close to my heart. I did admittedly have quite a spectacular mishap on one walk in my second year which at the time was quite upsetting and humiliating, though I must give due credit to my friends for their support, and I learned from my mistake.
My enthusiasm didn’t stop there: I stood for election to committee at the AGM (precisely three years and one day ago, at the time of writing) and became the club’s Equipment Officer. As a first year, it was a bit intimidating to take on a position of responsibility, especially given how formidable I’d perceived the previous committee (headed by Tom Howe) to be. I felt I had much to prove and worked hard, keen to impress my committee colleagues and older members of the club.
My first tenure on committee was a challenging, interesting and rewarding experience. Inevitably, disagreements occasionally occurred, but I immensely enjoyed contributing to the running of the club and working with my friends on something that I was passionate about. Undoubtedly, the highlight of that year was the celebration held at the Albert Hall Conference Centre to mark the club’s eightieth anniversary, which was a resounding successful event that attracted members of the club past and present – some of whom had served on committee as far back as the 1970s! It was heartening to see how special Ramsoc had been to some people and I was proud to have contributed to what later won the Event of the Year award – richly deserved in my (not biased at all…) opinion.
Before I started my course, I knew that I would be spending the third year of my course in Germany, so of course I wasn’t surprised at having to organise it during my second year. However, as the year drew on, it hit me more and more that I would have to leave my social life in Nottingham behind for a year and build up a new social network in a foreign country. If I’d been daunted by the prospect of moving to Nottingham, I was certainly in for a shock when I moved abroad. I did my best to reassure myself that all would be fine and that I’d find friends when I moved to Germany. As for Ramsoc, I knew that it wouldn’t be farewell forever, so why should I be so worried? Above everything else, I knew that I’d miss everyone terribly, which I certainly did – merely thinking about it makes me want to well up. I won’t talk too much here about my year abroad  as I’ve covered that in a personal blog, but all I’ll say is that despite my efforts, it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped and I never managed to find a good group of friends I could really trust and rely on. It made me realise just how special Ramsoc was to me, and I couldn’t wait to be reunited with the club.
I therefore stood for the Vice Presidency of the club while I was still in Germany and was elected in absentia. Claire, the then Ramble Secretary, proposed me for the position and read out my speech, which I’m told was well received. I was back on committee and didn’t know most of my new colleagues, though I had been assured that all were a fantastic, competent group of people. I returned from Germany at the end of May and attended the Summer BBQ a few weeks later – surprising many people who had never met me, or not seen me for an entire year.
I took up my new position in earnest over the summer prior to beginning my final year. It was a big change to be one of the longer-serving members of the club on committee, though of course I never regarded my knowledge as superior to that of my colleagues. I’m pleased to say that I’ve enjoyed serving as Vice President and using my previous experience on committee to support my colleagues. In a way, it was nice to have variety in my role as well as the liberty to support my committee as and when required – this was very different to the set role profile I’d had as Equipment Officer. If I’m being completely candid, this year hasn’t been quite the same as my first two years in the club. Of course, I couldn’t expect that an organisation as long-lasting like Ramsoc would stagnate, but then I suppose it’s only human to feel that way. On a more positive note, I am privileged to have worked with some great people and to welcome new members to the club who will shape its future.
Are you still with me? Good – I should be finished soon, sorry it’s been such a long post. At the time of writing the club has just had its latest AGM where a new committee have been elected, and the outgoing committee are due to hand over the reins any day now. It’s encouraging to see that Ramsoc – not your ‘typical’ student club (note the inverted commas) – is going strong and that there are a brilliant group of people who are willing to give up their time to drive it forward. I have every confidence that they will do a stellar job.
So how would I sum up my experience with Ramsoc? Well, that would be an impossible task – just look at the length of this post. Ok, I’ll try: this fantastic (running out of adjectives here) club has been an enormous part of my life and it has done as much as my course to provide me with experiences that will stay with me forever (sometimes clichés say it best). I’ve made the most amazing friends and have accumulated a wealth of unforgettable memories. My relationship with the club is by no means over – in fact, I’ll remember it as one of the defining influences on my youth.

But to conclude this post, I just want to say one thing. To the older members who shaped my initial experiences with the club; to the outgoing and incoming committee members and of course everyone who has made Ramsoc what is over its eighty-two-year lifespan: thank you.

By Patrick Hardern

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Progressive Meal

I usually don’t go to Ramsoc socials as they clash with my kayaking pool sessions, but anything involving food is worth my time! Especially if I can show off my amazing cooking skills, as I wanted to cook for Ramsoc since the last weekend away I went on. So I said goodbye to kayak and prepared myself for a night delicious food and great fun.

I immediately decided to prepare a mushroom risotto, which is one of my best dishes (my housemates can support this!). I wanted to honour my Italian origins with this amazing recipe I found on the internet (I wish I could say it’s from my granddad but all he taught me so far is how to make pasta and it’s very, very, very long to make...).
My Wednesday was really busy as I spent the day running from a tutorial to a lecture and to archery practice where I spent my afternoon shooting (a little) and chatting (a lot). As soon as I was home I the sacred process of cooking my amazing risotto; grating the parmesan, chop the many, many mushrooms, garlic, onions and parsley. Then the most important part of the cooking process: the rice. It’s all in the dosage because I have to be cautious not to burn it but we don’t want it too liquid either!
The cooking process involves a lot stirring and I quickly started to overheat in front of the stove because of my poor choice of clothes; the shirt I picked had an enormous amount of fabric in front and was keeping me way too hot while cooking this bowl of rice! With the noise of the cooking, the door of the kitchen closed and my intense concentration I didn’t even hear the doorbell and suddenly Helen appeared in my kitchen! She was quickly followed by the rest of my guests, Alex, Julia, Adam and Dan. They all sat in the living room and chatted, but I would be incapable of telling you what about since I was left alone in the kitchen, finishing my risotto. It was quickly ready though and they all sat while I decorated my dish with some slices of parmesan and leaves of parsley (I am indeed a compulsive perfectionist).

After this amazing starter (I’m sure we all agree on this), I revealed the next destinations of my guests and myself. Some of us (me included) were unlucky enough to have to go all the way to Beeston, so we left quickly as not to be late for the most exciting part of the evening. I of course missed the bus and arrived quite late at Adam’s house where I would have my main. I knocked and was invited in by a mysterious young lady I didn’t know who showed me the living room. I was removing my coat when suddenly two very tall men in religious robes appeared in front of me. They greeted me and disappeared up the stairs, leaving me there wondering if I had entered a priory by mistake… Miraculously Adam found me before I panicked and quickly reassured me that I wasn’t in a church, just his housemates hosting a religious debate on Harry Potter…
In the living room all the other guests, Patrick, Lee, Claire and Tom, were already here and had pretty much eaten all the buffet (or was it the mysterious monks?). Not demotivated in the slightest, I grabbed a plate and managed to get the left overs of each plate which was more than enough. It was really tasty, although I couldn’t identify most it… The buffet style allowed for a more informal and friendly atmosphere, which was totally like Adam. I was also offered a glass of wine, while Tom and Lee were brave enough to try the homemade brew, which they swear must have been at least 20% alcohol! They sadly had to decline Adam’s offer to do the famous beer race, which consists of running up the stairs to the top floor, down the beer, and run down quickly (I really wanted to witness that, so disappointing guys!). Before leaving the house we even got a very special guided tour of the cellar, which is impressively large and has windows… underground... It’s quite an old house and Adam thinks that the ground must have been lower a few centuries ago.

I left for my dessert with Lee to Julia’s place, in Broadgate Park. I must admit I was quite happy Lee knew BP because I never realised how big it was and didn’t even know there were so many entrances! We had a look at the map at the gate and I made a fool of myself in front of Lee… my map reading skills failed me that night and I completely blame it on the wine.
The other Charlotte (or am I the other Charlotte?) arrived at the same time and James was already there. Julia had prepared an amazingly large selection of desserts! Chocolate cake with chocolate icing, cheesecake, vanilla cake, more chocolate cake, another cheesecake with Nutella this time (extra Nutella allowed!) and even more delicacies that I can’t remember! She also offered us a large choice of beverages that included rum! I obviously went for the more reasonable hot chocolate, but with a shot of rum (I swear I am not alcoholic, despite the mulled wine I take on walks…). It was a great course and I wished my stomach was larger! I was quite sad to leave, a few more minutes and I my stomach would have allowed for more cheesecake and Nutella!

We all left together for the Malt Shovel Inn were the rest of Ramsoc was already gathered to have one more pint and share our amazing food stories.

By Charlotte Rossetti