Many Marvellous Marks for our Magical Market

Have you been yet?  2015-04-20 18.52.48Have you found the hidden wee gem, admired the amazing view, met the super-friendly stall holders, imbibed the lovely atmosphere, bought some gorgeous gifts, sampled the wide variety of stalls, found it to be quaint, chilled and charming?

FullSizeRenderNot my words, I hasten to add, but quotes from the rave reviews that Dock Market has started to attract on its Trip Advisor page… So our handmade pop-up market is now apparently the no.3 best place to shop in Belfast, and our handmade pop-up cafe is the no.3 best place to grab a cuppa!

2015-04-11 11.53.27Hats off (preferably handmade knitted bobble hats with funky buttons) to the Dock Market stallholders, who have run with this idea and made such an incredible success of it over these past months.  They faithfully built up a following throughout the winter months when passers-by were few; they fed and watered the pop-up cinema crowds; they provided many many pressies that went under all our Christmas trees (and they provided the Christmas trees as well!)

2015-04-11 11.57.12From the very start, they stayed true to their ethos and their mission statement: If you make it, you can sell it.   They have provided countless opportunities for local creative people to start or grow their businesses, and the quality of the things they produce, make, cook and create never ceases to amaze me: none of this stuff would look out of place in Covent Garden or Notting Hill.

2015-04-11 12.09.46And, into the bargain, they have turned another empty space in the Titanic Quarter into another haven of life, fun, friendship and community – not least amongst the traders themselves, who always remark on the family atmosphere and warm welcome they receive when setting up their stalls for the first time.  They deserve every word of the glowing reviews, every step of increased footfall, every bit of the buzz that has increasingly started to grow around the Market over recent weeks.

2015-04-13 09.20.42So if you haven’t already experienced what a chilled-out Saturday feels like in the docks (or The Docks – Dock Cafe and Dock Market), put some dates in your diary now.  This is what the new Belfast feels like on a sunny summer Saturday – quirky, friendly, creative, inspiring and unique.  And you might even get to see a little red tram run past – but more on that later…!


A Night To Remember

Screenshot 2015-04-09 19.50.12It’s now nearly 103 years since a shipwreck on the icy Atlantic sent shockwaves around the world.  The events of the original Night to Remember on 14th April 1912 became the first global news story – and a story that resounded not just around the world of 1912, but also across the decades that followed.  Titanic’s fate has been re-told and remembered in pretty much every generation, every language, every form of media.

Screenshot 2015-04-09 19.46.42But there’s something especially powerful about remembering Titanic in Belfast, where the story began.  After a century of silence, we’ve found our voice and our place in the story.  People now travel from all over the world to mark this anniversary in Belfast – often people who have a personal family connection to Titanic’s passengers and crew.

b50d39c4-7ba0-420e-876b-8f44c3dc3b1bSo it’s been an immense privilege for The Dock to have been involved over the past few years in developing and enabling A  Night To Remember at Titanic Belfast.  The evening involves a journey through the story of Titanic, from design to build to launch to departure to tragedy, as told through the eyewitness accounts of a series of the characters who watched it happen.  Then (after a nice glass of warm cider) we gather by candlelight on the slipways at 11:40pm, the moment of collision, to mark the moment that the world changed forever.

Here’s a taster of last year’s event:

Tickets are still available here if you would like to join us again this year.

~1428604772~BlM4-b3IEAARsPh.jpg-large copyOr if you fancy getting involved behind the scenes, there are still one or two spaces for Dock volunteers who would like to help make it all happen.  It’s a very special event to be part of, so if you’d like to help out, just send me a message using the contact form here.  (Not that I would try to bribe you or anything, but you get a T-shirt!)


And it was amazing, and as always the Dock volunteers did a fabulous job.  Highlight this year for me: standing in the darkened Drawing Office where Titanic was designed, lighting candles at 11:40pm and watching light start to fill the room as the flame was passed from one person to the next

The Passion Walk

feetFor the last few days Dock Cafe has been the last stop of the Passion Walk, an ‘urban pilgrimage’ in which you walk through the journey of the Easter story while walking through the streets of Belfast city.

Everyone arriving at the Dock for their cuppa at journey’s end was so impressed and moved by the experience that I thought I’d better try it myself…

On arrival at the starting point at Glengall St you’re equipped with an MP3 player (or shown how to access the audio files on your smartphone) and headphones if necessary, so that you can take the walk completely at your own pace.  There’s something very powerful about being left to your own devices during a reflective time like this; you’re not hurried along (or slowed down) by anyone else’s agenda.

2015-04-04 12.37.33And so you strike out into the noisy streets of the city, and the busyness and distractions are part of the point – the audio guide makes the point that the events of the original Easter week did not happen in a hushed bubble, but amid the daily lives of hundreds of busy people, most of them unaware of history turning on its axis in their midst.

You are guided to stop at various points where the surroundings enhance or play off the various points of the story – I loved the idea of stopping in a dingy, dodgy alleyway when remembering the scene of Jesus’ beating, or using the ‘Sheep On The Road’ sculpture at the Waterfront Hall to think about Jesus as the good shepherd.

Again and again you notice familiar parts of the city in a new light, or see things you’ve walked past a hundred times but never really seen before.

By the time I reached the Dock I was ready for my cuppa – but I also felt as if I had properly stopped (or at least paused) my racing 2015-04-04 12.24.22thoughts, worries and plans for just a little while.  Of course I got distracted and waylaid sometimes (not least by the temptation of a Nutella crepe at the City Hall – ahem) but the rhythm of walking, pausing, listening, reflecting, at my own pace and alone with my own thoughts and prayers, soon drew me back.

What a powerful and unique way to experience the Easter story.
2015-04-04 17.04.30

PS if you’re kicking yourself for missing out, do not despair!  Susan Mansfield, the creator and co-ordinator of the walk, is joining us at Sunday Nights at the Dock on Easter Sunday at 6pm in Dock Cafe to tell us how the idea was born.  There may even be a very short version of the Walk involved…. see you there!