I’m feeling a little bit emotional today, my last day working in Aberdeen at the Soap Factory. We’re moving to Edinburgh on Monday, so I’ll need to find a new hotdesking hub and make some new work friends. There is a lot I will miss about Aberdeen in general and the Soap Factory in particular – but I’ve boiled it down to ten things…
1 The Chat
Aberdeen is a true melting pot of cultures and languages, thanks in large part to the oil industry. Everywhere I go I hear loads of foreign languages and I love that (especially when it’s Spanish or French and I can eavesdrop). In the office we have at least four different accents going on. At playgroup there are at least eight. It makes for very interesting chat and gossip, not to mention endless piss-taking and misunderstandings. I don’t even mind any more when someone calls me a Weegie.
2 The Sea
I love living so close to the sea – it’s part of the reason we’re staying on the east coast. It’s very good for the soul to just wander along the beach. I particularly love the way Aberdeen has developed its seafront. The Sand Dollar cafe is one of our favourites, I like meeting out-of-town business contacts there to show them what it’s like working in Aberdeen. They are always impressed by the view. For the family, TGI Fridays is a winner, as is the pool with its flumes, the cinema for wet days and the amusements for when your four year old’s whining defeats you. Further up the coast, Balmedie beach has been one of our favourite Sunday destinations, followed by an enormous freshly-baked scone at The Cock and Bull.
3 The Community
The Aberdeen business community is very friendly once you’ve made the effort to prove you’re not just an interloping central-belter. There are loads of networking events going on – my favourites have been Aberdeen Business Network and Come Lunch With Me. People are generally very open to meeting for a coffee and a chat.
4 The Space
Aberdeen is a city but it’s not huge. You can usually get parked and you’re only ever a short drive from the countryside. Many of the offices are in business parks so there’s no sense of city centre crush.
5 The Harbour
If you arrive in Aberdeen by train, the first thing you’ll see when you walk out of the station is an enormous tanker or four. It’s one of Aberdeen’s quirks that I’ve always loved, the fact the harbour is smack bang in the middle of the city. It just makes the power of the oil and fishing industries less abstract. It’s a reminder of the city’s status as a true hub, with tens of thousands of pounds sailing in and out daily. Plus my son (and my husband) love boat spotting.
6 The Pace
It’s certainly picking up now that the oil price is low and everyone’s keen to make efficiencies, but generally working in Aberdeen has a very pleasant pace. I’ve found new contacts in particular are keen to take the time to chat and get to know you before getting down to the business details. There seems to be more willingness to take a lunch hour than there was in Glasgow, which I believe is a very good thing. It’s healthy and it makes lunch meetings easy and productive.
7 The Opportunity
Now more than ever there are opportunities in Aberdeen to do things differently, which really suits start-ups and nimble SMEs. There has just been a huge investment in making Aberdeen a tech hub which stands the city in great stead.
8 The Sky
Maybe I lived in Glasgow too long under an endless grey cloud but I think the sky in Aberdeen is bigger. Even when it’s freezing cold the sky is usually blue and this does wonders for your mood. Also this reputation Aberdeen has for being grey is a bit unfair in my opinion. Of course there are overcast days, but generally the granite sparkles in the sunshine and looks lovely.
9 The Soap Factory
I’m going to give my office space its own point on my list because I really do love it. It’s central, it’s great value for money and it’s full of hilarious people and chat. I’ll miss our nights out and our creative brainstorming. I’ll miss the varied news, from getting an offshore habitat onto a ship with five minutes to spare to entering a 48 hour film project and screening the result for us on one tenant’s cinema size TV. There is always something happening, something to collaborate on, someone arriving with baked goods or someone moaning about a hangover.
10 The People
I’ve made life-long friends in three years of working in Aberdeen, from all over the world. I’ve met business contacts I’ll treasure, learned about whole new industries, made a difference, hopefully, to several local companies, made a good living, and totally embraced the Aberdeen way of life. I’ll miss a lot of people, though of course we will stay in touch and hell, I’m only a few hours down the road. The one thing I will definitely NOT miss is the A90, the Worst Road in the World. I’ll be inviting people down and maybe even finding that some Aberdeen friends become neighbours. My second son was born here, so Aberdeen will always have a special place in my heart.
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