So there’s this Honesty Box cafe…

2015-05-25 15.39.05As you’re tootling along in the Wee Tram, you have the unalloyed pleasure of my cheerful face popping up on the video screens to tell you a little bit about all the sights we’re passing as we loop around the Titanic Quarter.

The videos were kindly sponsored by Titanic Foundation, and now that they’re complete, we have a set of 21 little 90-second tasters for all the sights, sounds and stories of Screenshot 2015-08-25 09.29.14the shipyards.  Looking at them as a set, it’s quite amazing to realise just how much good stuff is packed into our beloved TQ – from all the amazing heritage assets like the slipways, the Thompson Dock, the Nomadic and the Drawing Offices, to all the signs of new life and new growth (like the clip of the Titanic Belfast time-lapse I posted last week)

So I thought you’d like to see a one of the videos in its entirety – the one (natch) which tells you all about this amazing little Honesty Box cafe where community thrives, hope lives and the busy world pauses for a golden moment:

This Is The Dock… Life in the Titanic Quarter from The DOCK on Vimeo.

2015-07-17 19.48.59You’ll notice that I thought it was probably best to talk about The Dock as a neutral third party (rather than bursting into sobs in the video and exclaiming “It’s my baby!  I LOVE it!”) and consequently it’s really cool to hear tram passengers’ unedited reactions – many have visited and loved it, many have heard that there was some sort of honesty-cafe-thing in this part of town, and some people, hearing about it for the first time, just can’t get over the concept – which is a good reminder of what a daily miracle it is!

Something New

More transformations in the Titanic Quarter – this has suddenly sprung up beside the Movie Studios over the last few weeks!

It’s the new Titanic Exhibition Centre and it’s been amazing to watch its progress as we’ve tootled past on the tram each day.  Just last week it looked like this:

And then over the last few days it has started to take shape like this:

And if all goes according to plan, in another few weeks it will look like this – it’s due to be open for a wedding exhibition by mid-September!
titanic page 5 pic

It reminds me of the early days of the Dock, long before cafes and honesty boxes and pop-up markets – back when most conversations took place on foot, walking amongst the constantly changing landscape of the emerging TQ.

I dug out a few old photos of ‘works in progress’ I’ve been able to watch over the years – like the emergence of the ARC apartments:

– or the arrival of Belfast Met:

– or of course the transformation of the rubble-strewn slipways where Titanic was built into the stunning edifice of Titanic Belfast – beauty and awe and hope springing up out of the ground:

Titanic Belfast Appears from The DOCK on Vimeo.

There’s something about being surrounded by creativity and transformation that just makes my spirit soar.  It’s a physical reminder of a bigger truth: that Belfast is not stuck – we are changing and growing, building and trying  new things.

It’s such an inspiring place to go to work every day.

The Book of (Dock) Life

2015-08-06 15.23.54Another little milestone in Dock-World… we’ve filled a complete Visitors Book in Dock Cafe!

When Joe commissioned some lovely leather-bound visitors books for the cafe when we had just opened back in 2012, it seemed impossible that we would ever run out of space.  Hundreds of pages, eight entries per page… there would never be that many customers through our doors, would there?

2015-07-31 15.36.40(This was back in the days when the amount of customers in an entire day might be less than we now have waiting outside when we open the door in the morning!)

But looking through the completed book now – it does the heart good to see the multinational, multicultural multiplicity of people who have signed their name and home and comment on every page of the book.  From the very first entries in 2012:
first entries

…to the last comments filling up the (now rather frayed) final page:
last pages

…page after page after page tells a story of visitors finding a welcome, wanderers finding a home, individuals finding friendship, busy people finding peace, stressed people finding space, sorrowful people finding a smile, sceptical people finding faith (or sometimes just some experience of God, or grace, or something divine that they can’t quite put their finger on…)

Enlarge the pics if you want to see just a very small sample of some of the messages (and if you want to see, yet again, what an incredible difference the smiles of the Dock volunteers make to those who come in through the doors)

Or better yet, call in soon and leaf through the book yourself – we’ll leave the old completed book alongside the nice empty fresh one for a while.  And if your name isn’t in those pages somewhere, maybe it’s time to add a comment and join the Dock story yourself…