I really don’t want to write about this because it’s tempting to keep it secret, but that would not be fair to the folks who run The Nest, and from Monday, the café in the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. Blink and you’d miss both of these wonderful places, but they are well worth seeking out. The Nest officially opened today, a discreet coffee shop and café at the back of St John’s Cathedral in Central. Most people trek through the cathedral close via the Garden Road gate and go on down Battery Path, but if you look to the right as you pass the front door, there’s The Nest, tucked away in the garden. It serves great coffee, home made pies, quiches and rolls and chocolate and lemon pie. The beef pie is to die for. You have to go outside and look for somewhere to sit, but that’s no problem. There are plenty of benches and if it is possible to find peace in the centre of Hong Kong, this is the spot. You can even hear the birds. And best of all, the entire project is run by students from The Nesbitt Centre. This caters to young adults with learning difficulties, helping them to train, work and live as independently as possible. Disabled people get a raw deal in Hong Kong, so it’s very encouraging to see a social enterprise like this flourishing.
The coffee shop is smart, clean and well run and help to build it came from several well-known commercial firms.
The Lands Department dug their heels in and took some persuading to allow a coffee shop in the St John’s Cathedral grounds, but thank goodness they saw sense.
Why not use public grounds like these in a way that is truly democratic? It’s normal in Britain and Europe to find shops and cafes around big churches and tourists flock to St John’s.
The students of The Nesbitt Centre, started by David Nesbitt in 1993 because such a place did not exist here, is also going to operate the Maritime Museum café.
The students will be down in the museum on Central Pier 8, next the Star Ferry, serving out food and drinks from Monday November 4. If you go down there now you’ll catch the exhibition of Basil Pao’s photographs taken on his travels with Michael Palin over 25 years of filming their BBC travelogues.
Maritime Awareness Week
It’s also Maritime Awareness Week from November 4 to 8, and all secondary school students are invited to the new museum next week for free, to look round and learn about career opportunities in shipping while they are there. There will even be a tug moored alongside Pier 9 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for pupils to get an idea of what it’s like to work at sea.