As Storm Doris blasted through the UK on Thursday, Chris Buckler and the BBC News team needed a safe, dry place where they could film their live broadcasts about the NI elections. A place where every interviewee they had lined up, every politician of every party, would feel welcome. A place where the new Northern Ireland is being built day by day. A place where the coffee is good and the craic is mighty. Can you guess where they chose…?
And so throughout Thursday BBC News kept cutting live to the morning bustle, the lunchtime madness and the afternoon chill of Dock Cafe. By the end of the day every political party had been featured and had a chance to chip in – although it was a close-run thing as Emma Pengelly, stuck in traffic, still hadn’t arrived when the last live link of the day had started – but in the nick of time, she burst through the door to breathlessly share the last interview with Máirtín Ó Muilleoir – nail-biting TV for those behind the camera at least!
One of the amazing aspects of the day was the way that Chris Buckler used the background and ethos of Dock Cafe to introduce many of the links. From the ‘Pin Where You Come From’ map to the beautiful artwork on the walls of the cafe, the hope and positivity of The Dock was a great visual lead-in to the questions and challenges facing the candidates and interviewees. “This election is all about Honesty – and so here we are, in the Honesty Box Cafe” was my favourite!
All great fun and fascinating to watch. I’m hopeful that the informal surroundings of a cafe rather than the confrontational setup of a TV debate studio created some warmth and humour between the candidates. And across party boundaries there was lots of love for the Dock!
And although I popped up in one of the interviews, I think I’m very VERY happy doing what I’m doing rather than running for office – despite Mark Simpson’s best efforts… Thankfully #votevicar is not trending!
If you’ve ever been stuck in the Queue For The Loo at Dock Cafe, you will have wished fervently that we had a second toilet. Well now we do (sort of) – it’s just that it’s about 6,644 miles away!
Dock Cafe’s toilet is now twinned through Toilet Twinning with a latrine in Kagandu village in Uganda. Any toilet can be twinned with a loo in the developing world; one in three people worldwide don’t have a loo – and the consequences for poor hygiene, communication of disease, and lack of personal safety (especially for women) are catastrophic.
It doesn’t cost the Earth to twin your loo – and when you do, you get a cool little certificate, like the one which now proudly resides on Dock Cafe’s toilet, with a picture of its twin and GPS co-ordinates of its location so you can check it out on Google Maps!
It’s kinda appropriate that Dock Cafe’s loo is now providing a gift to others – as it was itself a gift, a massively generous (and massively appreciated) donation from a group of builders who frequented Dock Cafe in the early days. I’ll never forget the moment when they arrived through the doors of Dock Cafe, bearing the porcelain in their arms, to announce that they were going to install our very first toilet!
You can see the whole story (and find out the answer to the pressing question, what did we do before there was a loo?!) in this little video:
And if you’re inspired by seeing the difference that one toilet has made in our lives in the Dock, in this developed part of the world, just think how much a toilet can transform lives in parts of the world that can’t take sanitation for granted. So get twinning!
What a movement we will begin! It won’t be money down the drain. I second that motion! And so on (insert your own pun here)
We love our unique, creative, imaginative Dock Marketeers! In just over two years, they have grown from a tiny collection of artisans selling their wares from a little pop-up stall in Dock Cafe, to a mighty collective trading on alternate Saturdays from their own space in the ARC apartments:
And then just before Christmas they took their biggest leap of faith yet: moving Dock Market to the Odyssey Pavilion to introduce a whole new community of customers to their beautiful hand-crafted products and bespoke brilliance.
And now the Market is back! Every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month, starting this Saturday (11th February) from 11am to 5pm, you will find them trading, baking, painting, cooking, chatting, creating and just generally being brilliant as you walk through the Odyssey pavilion from the front doors to W5.
As always the Market is dog-friendly with special treats and much love for your four-legged friends. And this weekend it is Ginger-Friendly as well! – to celebrate Ginger Pride day, there will be special ginger-themed products on offer. And we will be nice to gingers. As if it is ever otherwise!
So call in this weekend and see what all the fuss is about. And then dander on across the marina for a cup of Dock Brew in Dock Cafe, collapse on a squashy sofa and watch the world go by. It’s what weekends are made for!