The most wonderful place in the world (at the most wonderful time of the year)

It’s the last day of Dock Cafe in 2017.   From tomorrow, we’re closed until 5th January – a new year, new adventures.  But for now, I’m just taking a moment to look around me and give thanks for 2017 and every moment we’ve shared in this special place.

As I sit here sipping my Christmas coffee, Life is happening all around me.

Two old-timers are putting the world to rights.  (don’t worry I’m not saying that to their faces – they look a bit scary).

There’s a little family at the next table figuring out how to work a very-complicated-looking Transformers-type toy they’ve just opened.

There’s a student sitting bashing away at his laptop – looks like there’s an assignment due before the end of term…

There’s a bunch of new customers carefully reading the ‘How The Dock Works’ sign – I can tell from the surprise on their faces when they’ve reached the line ‘This is an honesty box cafe – the amount you pay is up to you’ – that expression never gets old!

There’s a tableful of people – looks like maybe a school reunion? – chatting away nineteen-to-the-dozen.

Right next to them there’s a tour guide from Titanic Belfast with his headphones on and his eyes closed – looks like he’s enjoying the one brief moment today when he doesn’t have to speak to anyone!

A couple of cyclists have just piled in out of the cold, rosy-cheeked and struggling off their helmets, gloves, bags and coats so that they can warm up with a steaming mug of hot punch.

Martin the volunteer is singing along to ‘White Christmas’ on the stereo.  He’s hitting most of the notes!

One of the other volunteers is showing off an old photo album to the rest of the team, accompanied by shrieks of laughter.

There’s a little boy deciding where to put his pin in the ‘Pin Where You Come From’ map.  He eventually plumps for the middle of the Bering Sea.  His dad regretfully (but very honestly) moves the pin a bit closer to home!

It’s all just beautiful.  The buzz of conversation and fun and love around the tables is giving me goosebumps… this must be that ‘Christmas spirit’ everyone is looking for!

And all that is just one snapshot of one person’s view from one table at one moment in one day of the life of Dock Cafe.  Multiply that snapshot by 100,000 (that’s how many customers we reckon we’ve had through the doors this year), or by the countless moments from all the meetings and memories that were born in Dock Cafe in 2017, and you’ll get just the tiniest little glimpse of why we love this crazy place so much.

So – it’s the last day of Dock Cafe in 2017.  But what days they have been… Thank-you, thank-you to everyone who has been part of the journey.