The Market’s Comin’ Home…

Date for the diary: Sat 10th Feb in Dock Cafe

One of the most exciting stories in the adventure of The Dock has been the birth and growth of our amazing artisan market.

It began with a little shabby shed by the front door of the cafe, in which a succession of local hand-made start-up businesses offered their waffles, candles, paintings, nicks & knacks to the world…

It was such a success that we expanded into a vacant unit next door to Dock Cafe, in which the market grew Saturday by Saturday, discovering and introducing  loads of fantastic new creatives and businesses along the way.

Whether providing one friendly space to buy all your handmade Christmas presents, or trading in the midst of the madness of the Giro or the Pop-Up Cinema or the Tall Ships or the Maritime Festival weekends, the Dock Marketeers had such a fantastic time that they grew into a family,  a community in their own right.

Last year, 2017, was a year of journeys.  Trading for a while in the main concourse of the Odyssey pavilion, and for a frantic, fun and freezing month in a chalet at the City Hall Continental Market, the market enjoyed a year of new places and new faces.

But now it’s coming home!  Right back to where it all started, here in Dock Cafe.  Starting this Saturday, 10th Feb, and trading on the second Saturday of every month, you’ll find the gorgeous hand-made goodies of our marketeers interspersed amongst the tables and chairs and squashy sofas of the cafe.  You’ll also be able to chat to the marketeers about their handiwork and maybe even see some workshops and creativity in action.

As always there’s a mouth-watering line-up of stalls confirmed for Saturday – here’s a few little glimpses:

See you there!

The Dock in rhyme

Having a wee look at Dock Cafe’s Trip Advisor reviews is always good for the soul… we’re very blessed and grateful for all the people who write a few lines to tell us about their happy experiences at The Dock!

One of our regular reviewers enjoys their Dock experience so much that they are moved to poetry! – they’re called ‘RhymeReviews’ and I thought the latest one was worth quoting in full:

Marty and I
Love here it so much
What a lovely place to keep in touch
The people that go here are a lovely bunch
Such a delightful place to have lunch
My favourite place for coffee and a munch
The staff really do care so much

Whoever you are, we love the rhyme reviews – keep them coming!!

On the subject of poetry – I was recently introduced to my new favourite poem.  It’s called ‘Sometimes’ by Sheenagh Pugh – ironically, I read somewhere that the poet herself actually counts this as her least favourite and is surprised by its popularity!

Here it is in full – pull up a chair, relax, and have a read:

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse.  Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss, sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen:  may it happen for you.

It’s such a beautiful, simple answer to all the worry and darkness and hostility and uncertainty of the world of 2018.  When you’re reading the news it’s easy to get sucked into a whirlpool of anxiety and helplessness.  One of my favourite antidotes is to spend time in the warmth and fellowship of our amazing community at Dock Cafe.  Another antidote is to expose your soul to gentle wisdom and good sense – which is what this poem does.

Copy and paste and keep it handy for the next time you’re at the end of your tether!

 

It’s Good To Talk

Well here we are in 2018…  May it be a healthy, happy, inspiring and exciting year for all you Dockies out there!

Just looking around the cafe as I type, one of the things I’m loving is the ever-increasing volume of chat in this place – I love looking from one table to the next and seeing all the animated, cheerful faces talking away nineteen-to-the-dozen.

Seems like there’s lots of concern at the minute that we’re getting more and more disconnected; how smartphones and social media and the scary state of the world cause anxiety, loneliness, helplessness and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).  For all its wonders, technology can be a dehumanising thing, leaving us staring fretfully at a screen.

There’s something amazing about talking.  It’s not an accident that we’ve got all these eye-catching ways to describe a proper chat: having a heart-to-heart, putting the world to rights, getting something off your chest, talking the hind leg off a donkey (actually not sure where that one came from or what on Earth it means.)  As the old BT adverts had it: It’s Good To Talk.

So that’s one of the things we celebrate above all others at Dock Cafe, beyond the great coffee and the comfy sofas and great views – it’s a place to talk.  Conversations seem to bubble up and spill over in the friendly atmosphere of this space.

At our first Sunday Night service of the New Year last Sunday night, we committed to three 2018 New Years Resolutions:

Get Out More
(don’t sit stuck to the sofa in the flickering light of a screen – get out and experience this beautiful world and its amazing people)

Look Up More
(take time to notice the infinite variety of the world, be open to awe and wonder and worship)

Take Care More
(look after each other and the planet – both are more wondrous and more fragile than we dare to realise)

Happy New Year!

 

Pick Of The Year 2017

So, just a few hours left of ’17… if you were to select a Pick Of The Year, what would it be?  Was there a particular day, a moment or a memory from this past year which you reckon you’ll recall for decades to come?

Here in Dock Cafe, the answer is easy: there was a day involving a little A5 sketchbook, a viral media campaign, a wild hopeful shot in the dark and an unforgettable conclusion which we’ll never, EVER forget!  You can read the full story here

As a little extra unexpected Christmas present, the story of the Dock, the cafe, the burglary and the sketchbook was picked out by BBC Radio as one of their highlights of 2017 on their Christmas Day Pick Of The Year programme – so it’s great to know that (as well as all the bad news in 2017, of which there was ample supply), our little good news story is going down in history!

And so a fresh start tomorrow – what adventures lie ahead in 2018?  As always we’ll be starting the year at The Dock with a New Year’s Day Dock Walk – meeting at Dock Cafe at 3:33 to take a dander, watch the sunset, and have a chat and pray about the year that lies ahead.

If you still have a few mince pies to walk off, it would be great to see you there – just remember to wear your thermals – mere words can’t express how cold it gets there out in the wilds of the TQ!

Here’s a few snapshots from last year to entice you to wrap up warm and join us:

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.