For a city that is known as the oil capital of Europe, and welcomes thousands of business professionals every day to its Granite landscape, you could be forgiven for thinking that Aberdeen is in fact a fat cat market place full of suits and corporate jargon.
It’s easy to ignore the inspiring entrepreneurs that spring up throughout the North East city, and the local determined forces at work to help local businesses succeed and grow.
In the last few days alone, I’ve been spoilt for choice as to where to set up my personal office space to start the slow and exciting process into setting up as a freelance (for now anyway).
As a bit of latte connoisseur (I like it milky) as well as a fan of a carb, I have this week enjoyed ‘office space’ in Mad Penguin, So… and Books and Beans. Not only do they provide good wholesome food sourced locally (and milky lattes) but they are full of a variety of people characters that I can eavesdrop on for both inspiration and pure unadulterated enjoyment.
Listening to other people’s conversations is a real (bad) habit of mine but the musings you overhear can not only give you some soapy scandal (the lesbian coming out in Pizza Hut was a real juicy past one) but it can also fill you in on further local knowledge and tits bits to tease and inspire.
On Saturday afternoon, I decided to make the most of the day and head into town for some lunch and to do some work in setting up my sparkling new microsite. Initially I was setting out to make my way to Foodstory, a regular haunt for the quirky atmosphere, good music and of course, irresistible Peanut Butter Crunch. However, with the Thistle Street Food Market (yes Aberdeen!!) in full flow, the local healthy eating cafe was full to the brim, and so I decided to head further into town and hit up Belmont Street, where a variety of home grown talent resides.
On entering the warmth of The Coffee House I could tell from the chatter and heat that there wasn’t a single table inside, and so leaving my beloved Victoria Sponge behind I made my way to another wee favourite, Books and Beans with my mind set on the alluring taste of a bacon and egg butty. With seats reserved on order, I was finally able to set up my ‘desk’ – and even changed my lunch from a flourery bap, to a delicious and hearty bowl of Mushroom and Tarragon soup.
For the next three hours I sat and typed away my afternoon, tucked up in a small table where I watched families, couples and old friends catch up.
I cringed at the upper class musings of the family celebrating a 21st birthday, and my heart melted for the untold story of a dying sister between two old school friends. But what struck me most was the constant flow of custom and the warm approach by staff. Even as the place saw the clatter of shoes up and down the stairs, I was never made to feel that I had outstayed my welcome – even after making my coffee and scone last the longest a scone must ever have lasted.
Just now, eating local and buy north east is a popular buzz word across Aberdeen. As the oil crisis continues to pull its punches and people and companies shoulder the burden, Aberdeen is pulling together to help its neighbours.
There was much volume around the high profile closure of popular businesses, Beetroot, Andrew Gordon Butchers and Merchant Bistro, but at this time of mourning, it is also important to remember the cosy and comforting coffee shops who are providing the desk space and idea hubs for the out-of-work professional who are setting up on their own, and need the desk space, milky coffees and overhead conversations to inspire and grow.