What is The Dock? – the best answers EVER!

“Are you real?”  Of all the answers and responses I’ve ever experienced when explaining the Dock concept for the first time, that one today was a beauty!  How do you answer that?!

It made me think of all the times when someone has managed to describe the essence of The Dock – often better than I ever could! – when they’re still in the shock of the new.  So here are a few of my favourites:

There’s Richard’s great way of phrasing it: “You take what you want, you give what you want”.

There’s this fantastic Henri Nouwen quote which popped up in the Dock Visitors Book:

Sometimes a line of poetry or a song lyric sums up the whole thing perfectly:

Or another visitor’s comment that made me smile – is Dock Cafe THAT good?!

You can find lots of great quotes when you look up Dock Cafe on Google Maps – as well as this really cool virtual tour of the cafe there’s loads of great one-liner reviews:

And of course there’s the daddy of all review sites: Trip Advisor.  It’s always inspirational, frequently illuminating, and occasionally embarrassing to see what visitors from all over the globe have experienced in their visit to Dock Cafe!  Here are a few choice snippets:

“Never been to a restaurant like this before”

“Dropped in for coffee and my woes dispersed”

“Relaxed home away from home”

And then this one – I think this is my all-time favourite:

There’s The Dock, summed up and condensed into one sentence in a way that puts all my ramblings to shame!

“A sense of what the world should be like: people enjoying and trusting other people”.

That’s the quote for above the door!


The Dock Hokey Cokey

There’s a new dance we’ve spotted being performed by lots of new arrivals at Dock Cafe.  I’m calling it the Entrance Ramp Wobble Boogie of Confusion and Consternation.  Or – more snappily – the Dock Hokey Cokey.

It goes like this:  People enter in through the main door.  They stop on the entrance ramp taking in the crazy surroundings, the shabby chic furniture, the maps and pictures, the bustling busy mix of people sprawled on the safe and clustering around the tables.   They put their left leg in.  They put their left leg out.  They wobble and pause and wonder what on Earth it’s all about.  And then sometimes they take their whole selves out – because they were looking for somewhere with food and a menu and waiters and a till and all of those kinds of mad things.

Now sometimes a cheery volunteer can rush over in time to explain that there’s no till –  but there is an Honesty Box;  there’s no waiter – but there is a friendly volunteer;  there’s no menu – but there is a whole host of delicious food in the takeaway deli next door (and it really is delicious – have you tried Angie’s chicken and ham pie?  Amazing!) if our cakes, scones, buns and soup aren’t what you were looking for.

But quite a lot of people do the Entrance Ramp Wobble Boogie of Confusion and Consternation before departing for our lives forever and we want this to stop!  We protest and we are against this dance! Down with this sort of thing! (careful now)

And so over the last few weeks we’ve been working hard to find better ways to explain Dock Cafe to its brand-new customers.  I have built a great Thing at the entrance (a proscenium arch? a pagoda? a cattle gate? a boarding ramp? it’s been called all these and more) with lots of signs to point you in the right direction:

And most of all we have revised our main blackboard  at the Honesty Box (so – goodbye to our lovely list of all the scones and cakes and bakes that we eat each month – we did love ya!) – and now it (hopefully) answers all the questions you are posing with your expressive dance.

So – once and for all – Ye boogiers, cease your boogieing! Put both feet in and do the hokey cokey.  This is what the Dock is all about!

(PS we’re working on an even-bigger version of this blackboard and also some postcard-sized takeaway versions – and trying to translate it into as many languages as possible – if anyone can help us with the translations please get in touch!)

Treats of the day and Thoughts for the day

Can it be that Dock Cafe is actually getting kind of… a little bit.. FANCY?!

Over the Summer we’ve been experimenting with having a daily Treat Of The Day – we asked our wonderful bakers at French Village to surprise us with something different every day that isn’t on our usual  menu.

We’ve had everything from chocolate croissants and custard & raisin swirls to lemon cream muffins… yum!  Regulars know to come in nice and early as they don’t hang around long – as you can see from these two pics taken a short time apart!

Meanwhile Stevo (or Ice-Man as we should now call him) has a new toy – Dock Cafe is now the proud owner of an ice machine so we can make delicious Suki iced teas!

And going icy isn’t your only option in the tea selection – you can also bring a bit of mystery into your life…   I’m sipping today’s Mystery Tea as I type and it’s delicious!

And there’s no more excuse for driving straight past Dock Cafe without knowing where we are – great to see the Dock (along with our wonderful Spar and our brand-new neighbours at the Paper Cup Coffee Shop) on the funky new signs out the front of the Arc apartments:

Speaking of direction (ooh, terrible cheesy link), at our most recent Sunday Nights service we gathered together a group of people who often start your day with a little direction and inspiration: regular Thought For the Day contributors Martin Magill, Frank Sellar (and yours truly).

It was fascinating to learn how different we each are in the ways that we prepare and deliver our Thoughts – and humbling to hear lots of stories of the responses we have each received – from awe-inspiring stories of life-change, to the people who complain that we sound younger on the radio than we look in real life!

My take-away from the evening was a profound gratitude that the BBC provide a space for such a varied, profound and interesting group of people to start your day.  Even in the few sample Thoughts that we shared as part of the evening, it was amazing to see how different people react to different approaches, and how one person’s least favourite style can be utterly life-transforming for someone else.

It’s worth remembering that BBC iPlayer collects all the daily Thoughts on this neat little page so you can check back and re-listen to any that really caught your attention.

And if you’d like to join us for our next Sunday night of worship, thanksgiving, inspiration and great coffee – we’ll be meeting again this Sunday (6th Aug) at 6pm at Dock Cafe and we’re intending to go for a little dander – bring your walking shoes!