Coming Soon: The best week EVERRR….

If there is indeed no rest for the wicked, I must have been a very wicked boy indeed.  This is promising to be the busiest, excitingest, craziest couple of days I’ve seen in a long time!

For kick-off, tomorrow (Saturday) sees the start of the Maritime Festival here in Titanic Quarter.

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Over the last few days, tall ships, pirate ships, navy ships and just lots of ships in general have been arriving all along the River Lagan and beside the Odyssey.  The festival is three days (Sat/Sun/Mon) of live music, street performers, shows, stands, spectacular stuff and (oh yes) ships – don’t miss it!

And of course in the middle of it all, your favourite Honesty Box cafe will be going gangbusters.  Call in to say Hi to Clemence and the fantastic team of volunteers who will be pouring even more cuppas than usual!   And breaking the habit of a lifetime, the cafe is open on Sunday as well – 11-5 each day of the festival.

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And just along the road, Dock Market will also be in full swing each day of the festival – bunged full of local creatives, goodies, food, craft, unique handmade gorgeousness and that special Dock Market vibe.

 

And of course the Wee Tram will be running through it all – and for this weekend only, it is FREE!  Just hop on at any of the stops (Premier Inn / Dock Cafe / SS Nomadic / Titanic Belfast / Slipways / Dock & Pump House) and then hop off at any of the others, to your heart’s content, all day long!

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IMG_5168It was especially nice to be setting up the temporary wee Tram stop beside Dock Cafe and Dock Market tonight. All my worlds colliding!

And just in case you think that at close of business on Monday I’ll be taking it easy and enjoying a nice long break – not a bit of it!  Because next week it gets even excitinger!

Tuesday is the long awaited deadline: 31st May 2016, exactly 100 years since HMS Caroline fought in the Battle of Jutland in World War One.  Caroline is now the only ship remaining of the fleets that fought that day, and it’s been amazing to watch the restoration suddenly ramp up a gear as we’ve been tootling past on the Wee Tram over the last couple of weeks.  A fresh coat of paint – the funnels and crow’s nest emerging from the tarps and scaffolding – even replica guns set up on the deck!

As I was heading past tonight, she finally looked as ready as I’ve ever seen her – a beautiful ship and a truly amazing sight:

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After the Jutland commemorations on Tuesday, as of Wednesday (1st June) she will be open to the public – another fantastic reason to visit Titanic Quarter, another facet of this constantly-changing, fascinating, unique place.

Not too shabby, eh!

Lynne to win!

10334311_989130897825188_2461172117754783580_nWell done to the amazing Lynne from Dock Market, who has been nominated as (and will WIN, if there is any justice at all in this cold cruel world) Young Business Person at the 2016 Belfast Business Awards for her incredible work behind the scenes at Dock Market.

13221468_1042760542462223_2142214884801871159_nLet me tell you about the kind of quality people we have here at The Dock.  We first met Lynne as a market trader two years ago, running her ‘Dolly Dolally’ stall of handmade crafts at some of the very first Dock Markets around the 2014 Giro Big Start.

12804645_989161447822133_469687315683313857_nAs the market grew and flourished and expanded, Lynne became one of the leading lights; she talked her dad into building our market carts; she co-ordinated the different market traders and squeezed as many of them as possible into the market space each Saturday; she inspired and assisted and encouraged those who were selling their wares for the first time.  More often than not, Dolly Dolally didn’t trade so she could concentrate time and energy on supporting the other stallholders!

12809591_997071867031091_6356381179037105196_nShe was a big part of creating the Dock Market ethos: “If you make it, you can sell it”.  At the same time she set a clear line of quality and professionalism and inspired all the other traders to match up to it: I’ll quote one of the congratulations messages on Facebook as a perfect example of the way she insists on bringing the very best out of each market trader who applies for a stall at Dock Market:

For myself I’ll always be eternally grateful that you insisted on an internet presence before I could trade at The DOCK Market, you forced me into the 21st Century and I’ve never looked back. Thank you.

10371454_997131213691823_882969566317639780_nIt was her brainwave to make Dock Market a dog-friendly market and to be part of the utterly brilliant social media campaign to start spreading awareness of the market through online groups (like those who are looking for somewhere that will welcome their four-legged friends when they’re out on a shopping spree!)

12742644_979757795429165_1769452757877880520_nShe’s now part of a market that counts 80+ traders on its books from 14 different countries, that has inspired countless start-up businesses and has provided a springboard for those who have graduated to trade at bigger and grander (but NEVER nicer) markets, that attracts a loyal core of traders who wouldn’t miss the craic, and has a clear and distinctive and captivating ethos where community is more important than competition and every trader feels like they’ve been adopted into the nicest family ever.

We’re so proud of Dock Market and the people who make it happen.  Lynne to win!  Lynne to win!

(PS – the next Market Days are 28th-30th May from11-6pm – the Market is trading every day during the Titanic Maritime Festival – here are just a few samples of the treats on offer!)

Jaaaaaames!!!

It’s the end of an era – this week was James’s last week pouring your cuppa in Dock Cafe.

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He’s not exactly taking it easy in retirement – he’s heading off to start a brand new tea room and also will be becoming a father in a few weeks’ time – so all of a sudden a hectic day in Dock Cafe might look like a haven of tranquility by comparison!

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Hard to believe it’s over 2 years since James took up the reins in the cafe. We’ve got so much to thank him for during his time with us – among many many other things, James can be credited with Dock Cafe’s 5-star hygiene rating, #1 position on Trip Advisor’s listings of coffee shops in Belfast, the introduction of our famous carrot cake and ginormous cookies, and  bringing an almost obsessive love to the cleaning of the glass tray bake cabinet!

BkP5sMXIIAAyBsb.jpg-largeI would also like to thank him for looking almost exactly like me – at least according to the many customers who called me James, or called James Chris!  James tells the story of one busy Saturday afternoon in the cafe when I had been a guest speaker in front of thousands of Mothers Union members in the Waterfront Hall that morning.  Inspired by the story of the Dock, the MU all hot-footed it straight over the footbridge to Dock Cafe when their conference was over – and, as James says, so many of them thanked him for his inspiring talk in the Waterfront Hall that he gave up trying to correct them and just enjoyed all the love!

photo-2As with all things Dock, we’ll never know just how much impact James’s time with us has made during his two-and-a-bit years.  We’ll never know how many cups of coffee he served, how many lonely travellers he welcomed, how many stressed students he chilled, how many stretched volunteers he inspired, how many lives he changed and how much difference he made.

We just know that we’ll miss him!