How can you experience mud buggies, knitting classes or a Portuguese language taster without having to organise a thing? Through the Give it a Go programme at Newcastle University!
Like many other universities around the country, Newcastle University has a Give it a Go (GIAG) programme. Although I have been aware of the events that they have run in the past, it was not until I was in my third year of university that I thought the time was right and the go needed to be given.
I made a resolution at the start of the year that – as this is my penultimate year of living as a relatively carefree student – it should be my aim to say ‘yes’ to any opportunity that came my way. Because of this mantra so far in the year I have attended a talk on China’s economy, had a couple of adventurous nights out and even become a Business Champion for the Newcastle University Business School.
When I was perusing the brochure of GIAG activities that Newcastle offered two immediately caught my eye: Cocktails and Earl Grey.
I quickly encouraged my housemates to sign up for a cocktail class at bar Tokyo (near Central Station) with me and, a few weeks later, we all went to the bar with about 10 other students and learnt how to make some delicious drinks. I decided that gin and rum were to be the spirit of the evening and made a Bramble and a Daiquiri – both highly enjoyable I might add.
The bar men were incredibly friendly and gave us a little background to the cocktails and patiently took us through the process. The evening cost us £6 each, and in return we received two beautifully handcrafted cocktails, a lesson in how to use the equipment and a fun night out.
Check out Tokyo’s website for more information!
Two days later it was time for my secondary activity: climbing Earl Grey’s Monument.
I was not even aware that Grey’s monument could be climbed, but having seen it as an activity I knew that I would never the opportunity to do this again. My mantra came into play once again and the answer was ‘yes’.
I arrived on a Wednesday afternoon, having paid the princely sum of £2, and met with a around 5 other students who were all as nervous as I was – the monument looked much taller standing at the base!
We went down the rabbit hole (a small blue door near the base) and began our assent up the stairs. There were tiny slits in the brick work that allowed some light and eventually the spiral staircase ended revealing the city of Newcastle in all its glory.
There was a friendly volunteer at the top who told us all about the history of Newcastle: by pointing at any building he could tell you the stories and contributions that enabled the city to be built as it is today.
Something which I had not appreciated before I had climbed this was how significant the Earl himself was to Newcastle. He can count being Prime Minister, assisting to abolish slavery and bringing in the Reform Act of 1832 under his credentials. This Act was intended to allow elections to become more fair, stopping the power in parliament from being simply passed father to son, and instead allowing those who had good ideas a better chance of being elected.
His act was incredibly unpopular with the House of Lords whom, unsurprisingly, wanted the power to stay within their small circle. He had to encourage many people to come to his act to vote, and, during one of these rallies he served a special blend of tea. This tea was flavoured with bergamot orange which was the idea of a Chinese diplomat sympathetic to Grey’s cause. This blend became known as ‘Earl Grey’s tea’ and can be counted among the finer things in life to this day.
The people of Newcastle were so fond of Grey that they pooled their money and paid for the monument themselves. His popularity in Newcastle is a testament to his determination and strength.
I had a fantastic time at these two events and strongly encourage to you have a look at what’s going on around Newcastle and Give it a Go!