Maggie's Kitchen Table and Aberdeen Culture Crawl

Friday 29 June 2018

Last Friday I had a fantastic day as a result of a not so fantastic life event. Back in January 2016 my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is now doing really well and has a fantastically positive mindset following a double mastectomy and a tough couple of years of treatment including both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It's only when you are faced with something like this at close quarters that you come to appreciate the network of care that is available outwith the NHS. For our whole family Maggie's Highland provided practical, emotional and social support. It really is everyone's home of cancer care and it felt only right to give something back.

At the heart of every Maggie’s Centre is a kitchen table:
It’s a place to sit and read; a place or talk to other people; a place to find support from professional experts.
You can walk into Maggie’s at any time, make yourself a cup of tea and sit down at the kitchen table to think, talk, laugh, cry or simply take a quiet moment.
You’re always welcome at Maggie's kitchen table; it’s a place for everyone.

The official Maggie's Kitchen Table Day is a fundraiser which takes place on 27th April. I'd missed the boat on this but instead me and my best friend Micheala signed up to participate in the Maggie's Aberdeen Culture Crawl. This was an event that I'd heard really good things about but I wasn't exactly sure what it entailed. A night time 10 mile walk didn't seem all that challenging and I felt a wee bit of a fraud asking for sponsorship to undertake it. But how about if I combined both? A plan was hatched and on the morning of Friday 22nd June I invited friends to join me at my Kitchen Table for tea, coffee, cake and fine pieces in return for a donation. Fuelled by cake I would then undertake the culture crawl that night with my BFF.

Before the baking had even commenced donations began to be made by those who couldn't manage along for coffee and cake but still wanted to contribute. Maggie's provided a fundraising pack and the collection box was duly assembled, balloons blown up and bunting hung. I kind of lost track of numbers at the point where I ran out of 'posh mugs' and started giving folk random ones from the back of the cupboard but there were well over 20 folk in my living room and kitchen at one point. The Pistachio and Elderflower cake baked by my son proved to be the most popular and I impressed myself with only my third attempt at Macaron making. We managed to make a pretty large dent on the cakes with many sacrificing both breakfast and lunch in order to indulge. Special mention must go to my friend Julia who sampled one of everything on offer. True dedication to the cause.

My Kitchen Table Day Menu
Iced Gingerbread (my paternal Grandmother's recipe) 
Raspberry Macarons and Lemon, Gin & Tonic Macarons (made with expertise gleaned from my recent class at Cook's Day Off in Kintore) 
Ginger Crunch topped with Toasted Almonds (from the fantastic Mountain Cafe Cookbook - A Kiwi in the Cairngorms
White Chocolate, Pecan and Raspberry Blondies (also Mountain Cafe Cookbook) 
Pistachio and Elderflower Cake (baked by my son) 
Vegan Snickers Bars (brought along by the lovely Jo from health and wellness blog Jo's Healthy Cupboard

Full and fuelled by cake it was time to head into Aberdeen and start crawling - thankfully not literally! Over 550 participants congregated at Aberdeen Sports Village to form a sea of orange. It was only at this point that we received our route maps and found out exactly where we were headed. Following a warm up and speeches we were off. A snake of orange winding its way down King Street on a ten mile route encompassing 12 official stopping points.

  1. Aberdeen Sports Village
  2. Seaton Park
  3. Zoology Museum
  4. Aberdeen Mosque and Islamic Centre
  5. Mackies 19.2
  6. Freemasons' Hall
  7. The Capitol
  8. Vesperis Gin & Vodka Pop Up Bar
  9. St Mary's Episcopal Church
  10. The Chester Hotel
  11. The Gordon Highlander's Museum
  12. Maggie's Aberdeen

Part of the attraction for me had been the promise of food and drink en route. This most definitely didn't disappoint! Hotdogs in Seaton Park, Mackie's ice cream in Marischal Square, Fierce Beer and crisps at the Freemasons Hall, coffee in The Capitol, a pop up gin and vodka bar from Blackford Craft Distillery, cocktails and cake at The Chester Hotel and finally a celebratory glass of Art Deco Prosecco at Maggie's as we collected our finishers medals. There were also a couple of pit stops en route at the St Machar Bar and Atholl Hotel - just to keep us hydrated ;-)

I was particularly excited about stop five at Mackie's 19.2 as Aberdeenshire Rock Choir were to be performing there. I've been a member for over five years and have sung in some amazing places with them including Murrayfield Stadium and The Edinburgh Festival Fringe but jumping into the choir in my orange t-shirt instead of the usual rock choir yellow star was a very special experience. As was the amazing echoing acoustics of singing underneath the leopard in Marischal Square. The only downside was that my ice cream had melted by the time I'd performed in three songs!

Maggie's Culture Crawl promised a behind the scenes exploration of some local landmarks and just like the food and drink it delivered. I'd never been to the Mosque, Freemasons' Hall or St Mary's Church before so it was great to get a sneaky peek and learn more about them all, however the highlight for me was The Capitol. This beautiful Art Deco building has been a cinema, live music venue and a bar over the years. I will confess to many an evening of misspent youth indulging in beverages of an alcoholic nature when it was Oscars. It's latest reincarnation is as an office complex to Chrysaor and PWC and we headed up in the lift to the seventh floor for what must surely be the best views in Aberdeen. Seriously. How do I get a job in this place?!

Maggie's request that you commit to raise a minimum of £100 in order to participate in the Culture Crawl. I'll admit that at the outset I feared this was an ambitious target to aim for. As such I'm blown away to say that one week post event, my total is an amazing £563. Huge thanks to all my friends, family, colleagues and followers who have contributed. Myself and Micheala have already said that we want to do it again next year. I'll share the date once it's been confirmed and would love for some others to join us in our crawling. There will also most definitely be another opportunity for coffee, cakes and kitchen table shenanigans. 

The whole day from cakes to culture was emotional and uplifting. To see so many people coming together for such a great cause whist sharing fun and friendship and all that is good about Aberdeen was an amazing experience from start to finish. I'm already looking forward to next year for more of the same! 
Meantime my Just Giving Page remains open if anyone would like to add to the total.

Thanks to for allowing me to share some of their official photos from the Maggie's Aberdeen Culture Crawl in this blog post.
To see all their photos from the event and download files to email or share on social media, just like their Facebook Page and send a them a message asking for the link and password.

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