Boppin’, shoppin’ or hoppin’ on board – what’s stoppin’ ya!

So you’ve maybe noticed there’s a wee thing or two going on at TQ these days.  (You might’ve even heard last night’s – Tiesto at Belsonic on the slipways – we could hear the beats at home in Greenisland!)

And it’s not slowing down any time soon – and as always Dock Cafe, Dock Market and the Wee Tram are in the middle of it all!

Dock Market is back on Sat 11th & 25th June from 11 – 5 with all sorts of brilliant ideas for Father’s Day, or a shopping spree day, or just a treat-yourself-to-a-waffle-and-a-wee-pressie day!  And just in case you’ve forgotten where it is, the market team have thoughtfully provided this helpful picture (especially useful if you are planning to parachute, skydive or arrive by helicopter – all of which I would love to see):

This was what Dock Market looked like during the Maritime Festival a few weeks ago:

And the cakes were going like hot cakes at Dock Cafe as well:

And the Wee Tram was bunged to the boards every journey!

FullSizeRender-3Speaking of the tram – it now has a brand-new hop-on-hop-off stop at HMS Caroline, which finally opened to the public last week – the very day after it hosted the commemoration of the centenary of the Battle of Jutland, the WW1 naval battle of which she is now the only survivor.

DSC01222You might remember that just a few short months ago, I blagged myself on a tour of the ship right in the middle of her huge restoration project – when there was still a mammoth amount of work to be done.

So on the very day she opened to the public, I felt it only right and proper to blag myself on again – y’know, in the interests of keeping you all well-informed and up to date.  (Such is my spirit of self-sacrifice on behalf of you people.)

I’m not actually sure how it was physically possible – the transformation is just unbelievable.  The ship looks as good as new – huge chunks of the interior are set out just as they would have been during the Battle of Jutland, fabulously evocative spaces – whether the crew hammocks squeezed in like sardines, or the grand dining table in the officers’ quarters:

Lots of the space on board the ship (it just seems vast when you’re making your way around) has been used to re-interpret, to tell her story and bring history to life:

But that still leaves lots of space for authentic grimy bits!  The engines especially are a sight to behold – and to behear (is that a word?) – when you’re down in the depths of the engine room, they suddenly spring noisily to life, deck shaking, heart quaking!

And then of course you finish the tour by emerging on the deck, enjoying amazing views of the TQ and admiring the carefully-replicated guns and wooden decks:

So – boppin’ at Belsonic or shoppin’ at Dock Market – or hoppin’ on board trams or battleships – and then calling into the world’s best and most beloved Honesty Box Coffee Shop to chill and chat – what could be a better way to spend a summer’s day!

Decisions, Decisions…

Who hasn’t spent a sleepless night worrying about a big decision?   We’re all the sum of the choices we’ve made: where to live, who to date, what to do with the one and only life we’ve been given.

61M07J7WS5L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_For the next few weeks at our Sunday Nights at The Dock, we’re going to take a look at the most helpful book I’ve ever read on that topic.  It’s called ‘All the places to go’ by John Ortberg, and it’s a brilliant, practical, inspiring and very funny look at how we make our big decisions and how we can learn to stop worrying about them so much!

Dock_SN_1024_768So make one wise decision: be here at Dock Cafe at 6pm on the first Sunday of every month during the Summer…  You will have to decide (oh, agony of choice) between scrumptious Dock Brew coffee or a smooth Suki tea – and you will have a dilemma between a nice gooey fifteen or a crispy malteser square – but other than that, I think you’ll get lots of help and inspiration for all the other choices and decisions you face!

(PS it’s not necessary to have read the book, but if you’d like to, you can buy a copy at a discounted rate at the service – or check it out on Kindle here)


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.


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.



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!


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:


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!