Hidden Gems Competition - Second Prize

Hazel Nixon describes her urban treasure, Still Waters

When driving up the Newtownards Road in Belfast, past the famous Hollywood Arches, I noticed an old three storey house in the middle of what appeared to be waste ground. It was painted purple and black, which made it eye-catching and on the gable wall was written the name Still Waters. This also made me curious, as a lot of other gable walls are painted with slogans less inviting, shall we say, in these parts.

One day my son Ross and I were in the area, trying to finalise the purchase of a house for him and we were both rather fraught. When I passed Still Waters and saw a sandwich board outside advertising lovely tasty eats I thought: ‘If we ever needed the water to be stilled it’s now!’

So in we went.

Interior of Still Waters Cafe (c) CultureNorthernIrelandI thought we had stepped back in time. In through the door, which gave a little ring as we entered, was a treasure trove to behold. Beautiful old furniture, linens, light fittings, china, paintings – you name it they had it. The friendly staff guided us to a seat by the window and there we were told what we could have – no plastic covered menus here. Ross and I were not very hungry so we decided to have scones and a pot of tea. Apple and Mars Bar, Raspberry and White Chocolate, Apple and Cinnamon to name but a few. Out came the lovely fine china cups and saucers. Who cares if they didn’t match – it just added to the charm. China tea pot, linen table cloth and napkins, the scones and homemade jam. Yum!

Memorabilia in Still Waters cafeWe asked our friendly waitress where she acquired all the lovely memorabilia. She explained that David upstairs sold a lot of old furniture and bric-a-brac, and in fact, things in the café were actually for sale. Old furniture for sale was like music to my ears. I heard Ross sigh, but after his delicious scone etc. he had mellowed with the atmosphere of this place.

We went up the rickety staircase bedecked with paintings, old prints and wall hangings to be met by David. He had lovely old furniture, tables, chests, chairs, washstands and in the corner, lo and behold, the most beautiful old oak dress, exactly what I had been wanting for some time. It did not take me long to do the deal and David also agreed to deliver it for me.

This place, Still Waters was a hidden gem for me and still is. In one way I hope too many people don’t find my ‘Hidden Gem’ because if they do I know they will be as enchanted as I was and the next time I go I might have to queue up for a seat.

By Hazel Nixon