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Bobby Palmer

Bobby Palmer

Bobby Palmer is a Freelance writer who's been working with Time Out in London since 2018.

He's an expert at doing weird stuff around London, then writing about it. He's done inner-city beekeeping and bathed in red wine for Time Out, and has gone undercover for publications like Cosmo and ShortList as a club promoter, a globe-trotting Instagrammer and a male stripper. He can't burp.

Reach him at bobby.palmer@timeout.com or connect with him @thebobpalmer

Articles (22)

Jamal Edwards on how growing up on an Acton estate shaped him

Jamal Edwards on how growing up on an Acton estate shaped him

Back in February 2020, Jamal Edwards MBE talked to Time Out about a defining London place in his growing up – his old estate in Acton. We’re republishing it now in respect for the SBTV founder who passed away yesterday. See other Londoners’ tributes to him here. Joseph Avenue is the longest road on the estate where I grew up. It’s also the place where I did my first film workshop. I was 13 or 14 years old and a film crew came to the youth centre. They gave us cameras and told us to make a film on the estate. I made a horror film shot around Joseph Avenue. If I looked back at it now I’d probably be embarrassed, but it’s where I got my passion for filming. The youth centre had such a community feel. The estate isn’t huge, so everyone knew each other. It was a safe place for local kids to hang out, which was the biggest thing. It got closed down, which was a shame because it opened us up to new things. I didn’t know I wanted to get into film at the time – we didn’t have those opportunities on the table. A year ago, I got funding to open the centre again. I wanted kids on the estate to have the same opportunities I did. Since reopening, we’ve done storytelling events, had visits from scientists and launched a boxing programme. We’ve got two more youth centres in the area now – and I’m having meetings about branching out across Ealing, but it all started off at the youth centre on Joseph Avenue. Reggie Yates on the area of London that changed his understanding of class. Candice Ca

Meet London's most pampered dogs

Meet London's most pampered dogs

London is a dog-friendly city. As in, its dogs are friendly: from the Basset Hounds of Brockwell Park to the Bichon Frises of Downing Street, the capital is built on the backs of incredible pooches. A simple stroll through any of the city’s green spaces on a weekend will be enough to brighten up the gloomiest of dispositions, and it’s the lovely dogs of London who you’ll have to thank.So don’t London’s dogs deserve a little bit of TLC? Don’t you think they should be afforded something more than a quick Soho Square lunch break scurry, followed by the same everyday dinner of tinned wet mystery meat? Shouldn’t every dog shave his own filet mignon and a wheatgrass and spirulina smoothie to wash it down? If you don’t, you might want to look away now. We’ve searched far and wide for the most pampered dogs in the capital, and they definitely eat, sleep, and go to the toilet, more luxuriously than you.

Hype dish: Flor’s old-school lardy bun

Hype dish: Flor’s old-school lardy bun

Lard: not the most glamorous of ingredients. It’s somewhat surprising, then, that Flor’s rendered-fat-laden pastry has become its star dish. The Borough Market restaurant, an offshoot of Michelin-starred Lyle’s, champions British produce and dishes, hence its  resurrection this age-old sweet treat, lard and all. ‘The idea was to take a British classic, something a bit forgotten, and refresh it,’ says Flor’s head baker Helen Evans. She explains how her team gave an old fave a glow-up.  The currants ‘We brew a strong tea, lots of it – like, ten litres of the stuff – and then throw in loads of currants. They sit in that tea for a week or two, then we add them to the dough.’ The lard ‘The lard comes from Warren’s Butchers in Cornwall. We beat it with brown sugar. We actually want that animal-fat flavour to it – it’s very different, and very moreish!’ The flour ‘Most croissants in London will be 100 percent white flour, but we put wholegrain in too. We also add einkorn, an ancient grain that we mill on site, as well as Welsh wheat.’ The dough ‘Traditionally, these would have been made with something denser. We wanted to make them a bit lighter and fresher, so we use a flaky croissant dough instead.’ The glaze ‘The buns are baked in muffin tins. Then, once out of the oven, they go straight into a mace caramel. We cook it until it goes quite dark, which creates a really rich colour.’ Flor, 1 Bedale St. £4.

The best rooftop bars in Shoreditch

The best rooftop bars in Shoreditch

Rooftop bars have become essential this summer in London. Of course, there are plenty of green spaces to choose from. And London has lots of lovely beer gardens. But there’s nothing like a rooftop bar, is there? Not only do they provide a safer outdoor space for socialising, but they’ve given us a sense of escapism after weeks between the same four walls. Luckily, there are still at least a few weeks left to treat the capital like it exists in warmer climes and to make the most of the views, the cocktails, and the warm wind on your face as you watch the sun go down against the city skyline. And that city skyline looks pretty good from a Shoreditch vantage point. Here are east London’s brightest and best rooftop bars now open again for bookings.

Hype Dish: Padella’s ‘beautifully beige’ pici cacio e pepe

Hype Dish: Padella’s ‘beautifully beige’ pici cacio e pepe

Borough market restaurant Padella is famous for two things, in no particular order. One: its never-ending queue, which snakes around the street. Two: its gloriously cheesy, effortlessly viral cacio e pepe pasta dish. And yes, the two are inextricably linked. As the pasta supremos were gearing up to open their new Shoreditch branch, we sat down with chef-owner Tim Siadatan to find out what goes into the capital’s most covetable comfort food. The pasta ‘It’s hand-rolled at our Borough Market bakery. All the bakers roll it as a collective, every day. We’ve tried making it with machines, but it’s just not as good.’ The sauce ‘The key to any unctuous, sauce is pasta water. If you combined the cooked pici, cheese and butter without it, it would split and be nasty. The water helps the fat melt properly.’ The cheese ‘Traditional cacio e pepe uses only pecorino, but we use a Neal’s Yard Dairy aged parmesan too. They use it for cheese plates and think we’re mad for putting it in a sauce.’ The colour ‘People love this dish because it’s oozy, cheesy and feels good in your mouth. People are bored of perfectly filtered Instagram shots – this is beautifully beige.’ The price ‘We love fresh pasta and no one was really doing it at this price point. Here, you have the cacio e pepe with a bottle of sparkling water for less than the price of your Pret lunch.’

Hype Dish: Gloria’s Incomparable Lemon Pie

Hype Dish: Gloria’s Incomparable Lemon Pie

The brains behind OTT Shoreditch trattoria Gloria were so convinced that its lemon dessert would be the shit that they called it The Incomparable Lemon Pie on the menu. Strong move, but it paid off: no visit is complete without ordering a slice, even if you’ve just eaten your own weight in pasta. We asked Filippo La Gattuta, UK executive chef of parent company Big Mamma, to talk us through the towering dish’s innards. The meringue‘We use an Italian technique, mixing it in a blender. That’s what gives it the fluffy consistency that makes you want to put your head inside it.’ The height‘It was about half as high when we first came up with it. We kept making it taller. You have to be careful taking it to the table: a fallen pie doesn’t have quite the same effect.’ The base‘The base is crostata, a crunchy Italian pastry. We put the lemon curd inside, build a bowl of meringue on top, then blowtorch it. The flavours have to be perfect.’ The lemon stuff‘Lemon meringue pie is a classic dish. We give it a twist by incorporating Italian produce. We use Amalfi lemons – the flavour is much stronger.’ The hype‘We make 12 pies every day, each one is sliced into eight. As soon as people see it being sliced, they want to eat it after their pasta. Every single slice gets eaten, every day.’  

Hype Dish: Tōu’s inimitable Iberian katsu sando

Hype Dish: Tōu’s inimitable Iberian katsu sando

A strong contender for London’s most famous sandwich, you’ve probably seen Tōu’s katsu sando even if you’ve never eaten it. The cult sando-maker started making waves as TāTā Eatery with a pop-up in Kensal Rise, before eventually opening a sando-centric street food spot at Arcade Food Theatre. We ask founders Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng to break down the inimitable Iberian katsu concoction you’ve seen all over your Instagram feed. The bread ‘The choice of bread was important to us. It had to be very light, which is why we chose a cakey type of brioche. It looks nice and big, but it’s airy so it squashes down.’ The sauce ‘In the beginning, we used a fermented red pepper paste, but it took about three weeks to ferment.That’s when we came up with this shallot version of XO sauce.’ The precision ‘People love the ratio of it. We use a special measuring tool to cut the bread, so that every single slice is exactly the same. We measure the pork too.’ The flavours ‘On the other side to the XO sauce we add brown sauce. It’s always in a bacon sandwich, so we had to put it in. It can be overpowering, so we mellow it with raspberry jam.’ The pork ‘We use Iberico pork. Cheap pork belly wouldn’t be the same. The shape means we have lots of trimmings, so we use those to make sausages for our hot dog sando.’ Tōu at Arcade Food Theatre, 103-105 New Oxford St. Tube: Tottenham Court Rd. £14.

Hype Dish: Quo Vadis’s smoked eel sandwich

Hype Dish: Quo Vadis’s smoked eel sandwich

This smoked eel sandwich has been on Jeremy Lee’s menu, in some form, since the mid-’90s. It started when he was working at Blueprint Café at the Design Museum and found he had a load of smoked eel and Poilâne sourdough to use up. Now, in its current iteration at legendary Soho restaurant Quo Vadis, it’s become a modern classic. We asked the formidable head chef to break down what goes into the much-loved London dish.  The bread ‘It’s from Poilâne, in Paris. There was a time when you couldn’t buy sourdough here, so we’d import it. I’ve worked with many bakers, but Poilâne refuses to surrender its crown.’The eel ‘We buy about seven or eight eels a week from the same farm in Lincolnshire. This bundle of eels turns up every Monday morning like contraband.’The cream ‘We put fiery amounts of mustard cream on the bottom, but the horseradish cream on top is the jewel in the crown. It has a kick like a mule – it really knocks your socks off.’The size ‘The original sandwich was massive. Back then one could afford that largesse. But it was so big that it was too rich. We’ve worked on the size for years. I think this is about perfect.’The onions  ‘To ensure the richness isn’t overwhelming, we steep thin slices of red onion in cider vinegar and sugar. Pile them on top of the sandwich, then scoff it all with your fingers.’ Quo Vadis. 26-29 Dean St. Tottenham Court Rd. £10.50.

Hype Dish: The Quality Chop House’s perfect confit potatoes

Hype Dish: The Quality Chop House’s perfect confit potatoes

During lockdown, The Quality Chop House made dreams come true by delivering its famed confit potatoes to cook at home. Now, the restaurant has reopened and the spuds are back on the menu. In fact, it’s the only dish that’s been served consistently since it was devised, back in 2013. Given his focus on high-quality meat, head chef Shaun Searley was surprised when a potato dish became the star. It’s cooked in duck fat, though, so he sees it as a win for the carnivores. ‘We get enough vegetarians and vegans loosening their belt for it,’ he says. The potatoes ‘We slice the potato as thinly as possible, then layer it. We use fluffy, starchy potatoes, so the layers stick. We’ve never counted, but it’s a lot of layers.’ The dressing ‘It’s a mustard vinaigrette, made with good dijon. We put the mustard on there because of the fat content – it needs acid to cut through, like lemon on fish.’ The crunch ‘It’s got a crisp exterior, then a fluffy interior with that savoury duck-fat taste. We use duck fat because of the low burning point: it makes them go perfectly golden brown.’ The layers ‘We make a sort of breeze block of potato layers, press it overnight, then slice it. It gives the illusion that we’ve put one tiny slice on top of another.’ The format ‘In the early days, we were scooping them out and frying them in big messy chunks – it was delicious, but a bit rustic. Now we use exact measurements: 3cm by 3cm, every time.’ The Quality Chop House. 88-94 Farringdon Rd, EC1R 3EA. £6.

Where to see baby animals in London this spring

Where to see baby animals in London this spring

Spring is in the London air, and there's nothing more seasonal than feasting your peepers on a bunch of fluffy, newborn animals. Whether you’re looking to clap eyes on a bunch of tiny kids (we mean baby goats, not small humans) or get involved with some lamb-feeding, London has got you covered. The city is peppered with loads of fabulous urban farms and wildlife-filled greenery, which are all gaining new arrivals this spring. Here’s our guide to the best places in the capital to see this year’s new crop of little lambs, chicks, kids, piglets, goslings, calves and peachicks (aka baby peacocks). Get ready for a serious cuteness overload!  Also recommended: The best city farms in London.

27 London events (and new openings) to get excited about in 2020

27 London events (and new openings) to get excited about in 2020

We might no longer be getting Crossrail this year (surprise!), but 2020 promises big things for London: music festivals under motorways (seriously), unforgettable theatre and more art exhibitions than you can shake an HB pencil at.  We’ve rounded up the most exciting events and goings-on to bring you the only guide to the year you’ll need this year. From Brent becoming the new London Borough of Culture in January through to the Royal Albert Hall’s concert performance of ‘Star Wars: Return of the Jedi’ in December, with London's first Trans+ Pride and the much-anticipated reopening of The Geffrye Museum sandwiched in between. We can’t predict the weather, sadly, but we can promise a perpetually sunny outlook when it comes to London’s cultural climate this year.  RECOMMENDED: 101 best things to do in London

Horsing around: meet the people taking part in the London Pantomime Horse Race

Horsing around: meet the people taking part in the London Pantomime Horse Race

It's a particularly cold day in Greenwich, which makes the fact that I’m sweating feel all the more bizarre. Blame it on my claustrophobic surroundings: my head’s trapped in a wellpadded cage, and my only line of sight is dead ahead, through a pair of fuzzy nostrils. Beyond the confines of my head-prison I can hear laughter. Through my nostrils I can see a particularly intimidating stormtrooper. So yes, understandably, I’m sweating. And if this is what it’s like for the front half of the horse, forgive me for not wanting to try the back. You see, that’s the main rule of The London Pantomime Horse Race. As the name suggests, you have to race as a pantomime horse. You know the kind – one at the front, one at the back. Good for ‘It’s behind you!’ stage business, maybe, but less conducive to sprinting around Greenwich on icy cobbles, stopping for pints along the way. Uncomfortable as this may sound, as many as 2,000 people are expected to turn up to watch this year’s race (it’s ‘Star Wars’-themed, hence the stormtroopers). There’ll be celebrity appearances, sky-high charity earnings and a spin-off event taking place in Chicago six hours later. All this, for a handful of halfdrunk fake horses? I’m as baffled as you are. That’s why I got in touch with founder and organiser Mark Biddiss to ask how something so out there has become such an enormous festive mainstay in the city. ‘We do try and impress upon them not to have a curry the night before’ ‘The first year we did it, it was ju

Listings and reviews (15)

Wild Life Drawing

Wild Life Drawing

Review of micro pig drawing class: At any normal life-drawing class, you’d be thrown out for calling the model ‘porky’, but this is no such class. Here the observation would be pretty astute. After all, today’s muse is pale pink, rotund and has a penchant for slobbering all over her posing pillow. Also, she’s an actual pig. While mud-muddling mammals might usually be kept away from fancy Kensington art galleries, there’s good reason for our visitor today. I’m taking part in Wild Life Drawing, an animal-lovers’ initiative which serves the dual purpose of allowing city dwellers to improve their sketching skills and learn a little bit more about animals and the hardships they face. The classes host everything from baby owls and penguins to wolf cubs and bearded dragons, but our model today is Lily – a fully grown micropig with a stoned demeanour and a tendency to roll over for belly scratches (if you tickle her under her left armpit). Armed with a fine-liner and an array of pink and purple pencils, I get to work on drawing her likeness while she gets to work on an array of apples and digestive biscuits provided by her owner Mark. Mark is a patron of the Farms Not Factories charity, and while today’s class is an excellent opportunity to try our trotter at drawing a pig, it’s also a chance to learn about their quirks and the often brutal way these intelligent animals are farmed. Our mid-lesson chat ranges from the riveting (did you know the tallest pig was 5'1"? Or that an adult p

London Cocktail Club

London Cocktail Club

3 out of 5 stars

There are already nine iterations of mixologist JJ Goodman’s basement-bar juggernaut in the capital. But the newest London Cocktail Club – squeezed between a Five Guys and a Boots on Clapham High Street, like The Leaky Cauldron by way of ‘Towie’ – has a USP. A life-size Oscar maquette by the door and a continuous loop of retro Paramount and MGM titles projected above the stairs point (quite aggressively) to a movie theme. Downstairs, the bar is split into three sections: one for ‘Titanic’, one for ‘Star Wars’ and one for ‘Pulp Fiction’. The last is done up like a diner with fake windows on to LA, while the ’Star Wars’ bit is Death Star-panelled. It falls just on the right side of gimmicky. There’s even a two-for-one ‘Orange Wednesdays’ promotion. Table service is friendly and the menu is extensive. My Tommy’s Chilli Margarita was spicy, salty and garlicky – in a good way, I swear. My mate stuck to the theme with a Tom Cruise-saluting ‘Choctails & Dreams’, an indulgent concoction in a mug, topped with whipped cream and a Cadbury Flake. Yet, strangely, the sweetest part was the lavs, somehow the best-smelling loos I’ve ever set foot in – seriously, it’s like they’re plumbed with cherry Haribo. ‘I could spend all night in there,’ said my friend. Just don’t mistake the hand soap for pick ’n’ mix.

Rockwell

Rockwell

4 out of 5 stars

What is it with cocktail bars and ‘Alice in Wonderland’? It seems like there’s some secret rule which dictates that any new opening can only get a licence if it bills itself as a rabbit hole and has bartenders act like the Mad Hatter. While Rockwell doesn’t go quite that far, it does feel the need for a typically whimsical menu with a ‘Curious & Curiouser’ section of drinks – much like, well, everywhere else. Look further, though, and Rockwell is something else entirely. The verdant venue on the ground floor of the Trafalgar St James hotel is far from a dimly lit stereotype. Instead, it’s all high windows, tropical drapery and lush green foliage. This gives the impression of a breath of fresh air, not an easy thing to do on an exhaust-choked corner of Trafalgar Square. We settled into a window booth, marvelling at an exotic interior which, mercifully, reads as more Frida Kahlo than Rainforest Café. Our waitress helpfully talked us through the inventive drinks, which were as pricy as you’d expect for this part of town (£9-£15) but more worth it than at similar hotel lobby venues. They’ve skipped the gimmicks – there’s not a bucket of dry ice or a novelty teapot to be seen – and instead focused on genuinely good cocktails. I opted for the Monkey Shell, a Negroni-esque concoction with my own choice of tea-flavoured sugar cube. It was nice, but I was instantly overtaken with drink envy by my companion’s choice: the Tangerine Capybara, a towering, fruity, punch-like party of a rum

The Devereux

The Devereux

3 out of 5 stars

What does a pub look like in 2019? That’s the question posed by the owners of the recently reopened The Devereux, which first came into being in 1677 as The Grecian Coffee House. A mere 343 years later, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was only the name that had changed – it’s hidden away in a courtyard in Temple’s legal quarter, flanked by old-fashioned hanging baskets and oaken barrels. Inside, it’s all dark wood panelling, with board games in the corner and pickled eggs behind the taps. Look a little further, though, and you’ll see that The Devereux is actually modern – maybe even ‘woke’. While I wasn’t taken aback by the decor (not to mention the fact that the most exotic snacks were Tayto crisps), I was pleasantly surprised by the drinks. The pub champions Toast Ale, a London brew made from bread that would otherwise be binned. And the fridges were filled with beers by Lewisham’s Ignition, who employ locals with learning difficulties. Even plastic straws are out in favour of hollowed-out tubes of dry pasta. It may not be extravagant, but The Devereux has heart – and a finger on the pulse of the capital. Add to that a surprisingly quiet location for somewhere just off the Strand, and there are far worse pubs for a very modern, thoroughly old-fashioned post-work tipple.

Otherworld

Otherworld

  East London isn’t exactly known for its rolling sand dunes, blistering desert winds and undead mutant infestations. Yet here I am, standing on an abandoned motorway in the middle of Haggerston, aiming a shotgun at an oncoming horde of zombies. At least, I think I am… In reality, I’m standing in a pod at London’s newest virtual reality arcade. Outside my headset, Otherworld sits (somewhat unsurprisingly) in an east London railway arch. The futuristic venue borrows pretty heavily from the ‘Black Mirror’ textbook: staff in identikit white uniforms place drinks orders through interactive tabletops and even the futuristic neon-bathed lids of the toilet open automatically. Yet while outwardly it’s an immersive bar with a dream-themed cocktail menu and food courtesy of Lords of Poké, it’s the VR capsules lining each side of the room that people come for. Case in point: when I ask if I can get inside one, I’m told it’s occupied. The seemingly empty bar is actually full, and everyone is having plenty of fun. They’re just doing it silently. Once I get inside my own pod, I’m strapped into a ‘Matrix’-esque headset that’s hanging from the ceiling and boosted out of the Big Smoke into the titular Otherworld. This takes the form of a mysterious island where different areas represent the seasons. You really feel it too, thanks to the addition of wind fans and heaters. The winter zone made me wish I was wearing a jacket but, in my defence, it was still summer back in Haggerston. Virtual

Pranayama classes at Blok Clapton

Pranayama classes at Blok Clapton

Stylish Clapton gym Blok is all about wellness in every sense of the word, so it even offers classes in pranayama (yogic breathing) for both physical and mental fitness.

Be Military Fit boot camp classes

Be Military Fit boot camp classes

Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough to do Be Military Fit, where ex and serving soldiers put you through your paces. (Spoiler alert: you’re not hard enough.)

Pottery classes at Hackney City Farm

Pottery classes at Hackney City Farm

What’s better than designing and making your own pottery to fire in the kiln and take home? Doing it while surrounded by donkeys, goats and lambs, of course.

Floatation therapy classes

Floatation therapy classes

If you work in a high-stress environment, Floatworks allows you to cut out the outside world by spending time in an eerily silent, epsom-salted sensory deprivation tank. Check out Floatworks' website for more info on timings.

DIY in a Day: Plumbing

DIY in a Day: Plumbing

Okay, plumbing isn’t exactly glamorous, but it’s probably the most useful household skill to have. And it only takes a day for The Goodlife Centre to teach you the basics.

Spinning at 1Rebel Victoria

Spinning at 1Rebel Victoria

Perfect for the easily bored, 1Rebel Victoria’s raucous spin classes feature borderline-celebrity trainers and an atmosphere akin to a Vegas superclub.  For more info on class times, check out their swanky website. 

News (41)

Dane Baptiste on his first stand-up gig, in a London wine bar

Dane Baptiste on his first stand-up gig, in a London wine bar

Corks Wine Bar on Binney Street, off Oxford Street, is where I first stood on stage and told jokes. The comedian Kojo Anim ran an amazing comedy night there. My friend was a regular and said to Kojo: ‘Dane loves comedy, I want him to have a set.’ Kojo was like: ‘Cool, he can have five minutes in two weeks.’ The night arrived. I was trying to be so humble that I waited in the queue to go in, even though I was performing. You don’t want to act like you’re better than anybody because if a Black audience doesn’t like you, you’ll know. I got there, and everyone was there: my college friends, my university friends, my cousin’s friends. I was like, ‘Why is everyone here? I didn’t tell anyone about it, so if I fucked it up, nobody would know!’ My set was about dogs, dating and the difference between men and women. It went well. A few weeks later, Binney Street became the first place I was paid to do comedy – £50 for a ten-minute set. It changed my life. Being paid to do something you like? My head exploded. I’ve been paid more to do comedy since, but that feeling will never be the same. Dane Baptiste’s sketch show ‘Bamous’ airs on BBC Three soon. Read more from this series: Jade Anouka on her formative years in a New Cross flatshare. Candice Carty-Williams reminisces about East Street Market.

Mo Gilligan: ‘I didn’t have a conventional route into comedy’

Mo Gilligan: ‘I didn’t have a conventional route into comedy’

Camberwell-born Mo Gilligan is a very modern comedian. He gained fame with his character sketches of grime MCs and Essex lads, uploaded online while he worked at Levi’s Covent Garden. Now, he’s done sold-out shows at Leicester Square Theatre, Netflix specials at Hackney Empire and fronted Channel 4 shows. When you’re 15, London feels massive. I played football for a team called Southwark Youth. We’d all travel on a bus and go as far as Wandsworth, Tooting Bec or Hackney Marshes. Those places felt like a million miles away. I feel more familiar with my surroundings in south London. My dad was from Brixton and I’d often visit him on weekends. There’s a big Caribbean community there, from the Windrush days – and my dad’s a Rastafarian, so he’d always get a lot of respect walking down the high street. When I first got into comedy I was just mucking around. I got invited to do five minutes at a small comedy night at the Dulwich Hamlet clubhouse. It went well and I ended up doing 20 minutes. Back then, it was a small local club and the people who came to the comedy night were just people from the local estate who had nothing else on. I didn’t have a conventional route into comedy. I didn’t know where to go for it. Universities like London Metropolitan University and Roehampton would have Afro-Caribbean Society events, so I’d message and ask if I could come down and do some stand-up. My first paid gig was performing at the Slug & Lettuce in Soho, at the Sunday Show. It was a young,

A Londoner’s guide to getting (and staying) out of bed

A Londoner’s guide to getting (and staying) out of bed

Struggling to get out of bed? We chat to four Londoners with jobs that mean early wake-up calls about how to stop snoozing your alarm Dan Frazer, head baker, Pophams: ‘I start my shifts as early as 2am. One thing that helps me get up so early is having an alarm that is so annoying that you have to get up – one of those continuously beeping ones which drives you crazy. I set about five different alarms.’ Edward Grace, owner, Beanberry Coffee: ‘Don’t skimp on your morning coffee – go for something bright and delicious to wake up your senses and make you feel like a better, happier person. Organic Ethiopian coffees are the best – they’re grown and processed with so much love and care that you can taste it in your cup.’ Ben Paul, founder, Sweat IT: ‘I don’t tend to have issues rising early, but if I’m in any doubt I will always place my alarm clock out of reach, so I physically need to get out of bed to turn it off. My wife is very much not a morning person, so that focuses me to get up and turn it off fast!’ Aimee Vivian, DJ, Capital FM: ‘My main piece of advice is: don’t snooze. Train yourself to get up on the first alarm. Maybe have your favourite song set as your alarm so that you wake up with a smile on your face, ready to smash the day ahead. A bit of Kanye West’s “Power” always works a treat for me.’ Need a caffeine hit? Head to one of London’s best cafés. Or maybe the prospect of brunch will help get you out of bed?

Meet the veteran firefighter who’s been keeping the city flame-free for 26 years

Meet the veteran firefighter who’s been keeping the city flame-free for 26 years

Fran Flin has been a firefighter with the London Fire Brigade for 26 years, and in that time she’s fought raging fires, extricated people from broken-down lifts and, yes, even rescued the occasional cat from a tree. It all started because I was going out with a fireman. He didn’t last long, but I remember him saying: ‘They’re even letting women in now.’ Until then, I’d never thought of it as a possibility. There weren’t many female firefighters [in the LFB] back then. Now, there are around 300. When I joined, most men were concerned about whether I was strong enough to do the job. When we went into lockdown, we had quite a lot of domestic garden fires, shed fires and barbecues alight. Lots of people were spending more time in their gardens and clearing their houses. Obviously, they couldn’t get to the dump so there were lots of false alarms when people were burning stuff. I’ve definitely noticed people being more grateful since the pandemic. Someone’s patio heater was alight and we were there for ages putting it out. When we left, the neighbours were clapping us. I really didn’t expect it. It made me quite tearful. During the pandemic, the biggest change has been how we deal with the public. We now always wear masks and gloves and we ask people if they’re self-isolating. If we have to go into a Covid house, we wear respirators. We’ve just had to just adapt and crack on: it’s part of the job. My most dangerous day on the job was a fire at a flour silo. You get these things cal

City envy: we want a floating cat sanctuary like Amsterdam

City envy: we want a floating cat sanctuary like Amsterdam

Cats famously hate water and Londoners love cats and things on boats. Covering all of these bases is one of Amsterdam’s most unique tourist attractions: De Poezenboot (‘Catboat’) – the only floating feline sanctuary in the world. The boat is a haven for Amsterdam’s stray and abandoned cats, many of whom are up for adoption: while there are 14 full-time four-legged residents, the narrowboat houses around 50 mogs at a time. Their unique accommodation means they make friends in the strangest places, too. Take the ducks on the canal, who poke their beaks through the boat’s wire netting to try and nab cat food. Sharing is caring, after all. It’s a truly original social enterprise and so popular that you’ll often find a queue of visitors on the canalbank. And while the notoriously violent swans of Hyde Park might make such a sanctuary unlikely on the Serpentine, we’ll be pushing for a Regent’s Canal equivalent in the near future. Want more cities to be jealous of? We also want a four-day working week like Helsinki    

An enormous ‘cocktail village’ is popping up in Shoreditch

An enormous ‘cocktail village’ is popping up in Shoreditch

We know what you're thinking. Another pop-up in Shoreditch? Gimme a break. But does your average pop-up have a dedicated Porn Star Martini Bar or a scorching hot tropical paradise with VR headsets and real sand? Thought not.  The boozehounds behind London Cocktail Week are bringing their epic ‘Cocktail Village’ back to the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane – and with it being their tenth birthday this year, they’re going all out. Within the village, you’ll be able to try your hand at – deep breath – gin-infusion workshops with Bathtub Gin, cocktail-making (with a side of bourbon-flavoured doughnuts) with Maker’s Mark, martini and oyster pairing with Fords Gin, cold smoking with Laphroaig, and steaming in a Finnish ‘gin sauna’ with Kyrö. Ben Eagle There'll also be an uber-sweet Monin-branded fairground and a Drambuie explorers’ hut, plus the aforementioned Porn Star Martini bar (put on by Passoã) and a VR tropical rum paradise courtesy of Fentimans. If all that’s not enough, there'll even be an appearance from Ryan Reynolds* himself, at his own-brand Aviation Gin bar. *Okay, it’s a cardboard cutout of Ryan Reynolds. But you’re allowed to take as many pictures with it as you like. Old Truman Brewery. Tube: Liverpool St. Wed Oct 9-Sun Oct 13. Entry with a £10 London Cocktail Week pass, available here. Find more top bevvies in our list of London’s best cocktail bars. Get more boozy news delivered straight to your inbox when you sign up to Time Out.

The horror director behind ‘The Descent’ is opening a scream-filled bar in London

The horror director behind ‘The Descent’ is opening a scream-filled bar in London

Besides being the director of the best episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ and the worst ‘Hellboy’ movie, Neil Marshall is well-known for helming uber-scary films. Now he’s turning his evil eye towards the London bar scene. In collaboration with Kraken rum, the horror mind behind ‘Dog Soldiers’ and ‘The Descent’ will direct a new ‘terrifying bar experience’ in a secret location in the capital, just in time for Halloween. Every element of the creepy immersive bar – named Kraken Screamfest: Director’s Cut – will be ‘directed’ by Marshall, from the staff to the storylines to the drinks you’ll be sipping. It’s all set to be themed around the fabled kraken sea creature and Marshall has warned that the experience is not for the faint-hearted.   Further details are sparse at the moment, but isn’t good horror all about suspense? Kraken Screamfest: Director’s Cut is at a secret London location. Oct 31-Nov 1. Tickets cost £20 and will go on sale here on Tuesday October 1.  Like your drinking with a side of thrills? See the scariest haunted pubs in London. Up for a scream? Check out our list of the best horror films of all time. Get more boozy news delivered straight to your inbox when you sign up to Time Out.

We kid you not! You can meet pygmy goats at London’s new gin martini townhouse

We kid you not! You can meet pygmy goats at London’s new gin martini townhouse

We know, we know. London has some fantastic cocktail bars, but they often feel like they’re lacking in one thing: tiny, adorable goats, with floppy little ears and stubby little noses. Luckily, Hendrick’s Gin is here to change that come October.  For London Cocktail Week, the stalwart gin brand will be bringing back their Gin Tini Martini Townhouse, a celebration of all things teeny-weeny. That means ‘micro pianists’, a pygmy petting zoo and, yes, the chance to cuddle some adorable little therapy goats. What’s more, there’ll be takeovers by some of the world’s biggest bars, with NYC’s Nomad Bar going up against Singapore’s Manhattan Bar on the Friday, Barcelona’s Two Schmucks versus Amsterdam's Super Lyan on the Saturday (a bar run by London cocktail luminary Mr Lyan), and a head-to-head between Little Red Door from Paris and Panda & Sons from Edinburgh on the Sunday. They’ll each be creating minuscule takes on the classic Gin Martini cocktail. Don’t worry: despite their small size, there will be plenty of diddy gin cocktails to go around – six Tini Martinis per guest, to be served across a two-hour time slot. And best of all, ticket proceeds will be donated to Blackwater Alpacas, the goats’ loving home. Not baa-d, eh? Hendrick’s Gin Tini Martini Townhouse will be at OneRoom, 9 French Place from Oct 4-6. Book ahead for a two-hour time slot. £13.50. Find more drinking adventures in the capital within our guide to London Cocktail Week. Get more boozy news delivered straight t

A secret gin bar is opening behind an ATM in Bermondsey

A secret gin bar is opening behind an ATM in Bermondsey

Ordering a gin and tonic in London can often feel like an assault on your bank account. Now it really is – a gin bar is popping up in Bermondsey, and it’s sneakily hidden behind a cash machine. The ATM bar (it stands for ‘Automated Transport to the Marvellous’, apparently) is being opened by Hendrick’s Gin, after previous forays into launderette gin portals and floral phonebox gin lounges.  Behind the hidden door, you’ll find a bank-themed botanical experience, with more gin than you can shake a slice of cucumber at. Visitors will receive two gin drinks as part of an experience that actually won’t break the bank – because it’s free for ticket holders. But you better get down quickly – the bar will only be open for four days, from Thu Aug 29-Sun Sep 1. You can grab tickets here – more are released every day at, erm, 12:34pm. The ATM Bar is popping up Thu Aug 29-Sun Sep 1. 6 Crucifix Lane, SE1 3JW. London Bridge tube. Free entry, booking essential. Find more juniper-heavy joints in our list of London’s best gin bars. Get more boozy news delivered straight to your inbox when you sign up to Time Out. 

Re-enact scenes from ‘Titanic’ and ‘Star Wars’ at a new movie-themed bar in Clapham

Re-enact scenes from ‘Titanic’ and ‘Star Wars’ at a new movie-themed bar in Clapham

Perhaps you’re the king of the world. Maybe you’re a scruffy-looking nerf-herder. Either way, this new classic movie-themed bar in Clapham will be right up your street. The newly opened Clapham branch of London Cocktail Club includes several areas themed around specific films, meaning you can sink Chilli Margaritas in the ‘Star Wars’-themed ‘Dark Side’, sip Rose Petal Martinis in Jack’s cabin from ‘Titanic’, or tuck into a Mojito Royale at the diner from ‘Pulp Fiction’.  If that’s not enough, the bar will be throwing a retro movie-themed weekly offer called ‘Orange Wednesdays’. You guessed it – it means cocktails are 2-for-1 every Wednesday.  And if you didn’t get that, well, you’re probably too young to be drinking cocktails. London Cocktail Club Clapham is now open at 182-184 Clapham High St. Find more weird and wonderful places to drink on our list of quirky bars in London. Get more boozy news sloshed straight into your inbox when you sign up to Time Out.

Guzzle £5 Margaritas on this subterranean London bar crawl

Guzzle £5 Margaritas on this subterranean London bar crawl

Yes, rooftops are great. But the true foil for an especially damp summer is a basement bar crawl.Over the coming weeks, five underground spots are mixing tequila-based drinks for just a fiver each in their ‘Subterranean Summer Series’. Our pick of the bunch is the Cherry Blossom Margarita at Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar. Midori makes it green, and Ocho tequila makes it delicious. Also on the list is El Pajaro at Discount Suit Company, Raspberry and Tequila at Bar Three, #1 Jimador’s Remedy at Nine Lives and the especially unique-looking Corn ’n’ Toil at Ruby’s Bar & Lounge. Best of all, if you get all five stamped in one of the special passports being doled out, you’ll also get a complimentary cocktail at the end.  You know what they say: free tequila, floor. Various London locations. Until Aug 31. £5 per cocktail.  Find more atmospheric drinking spots in our list of London’s best cocktail bars. Get more boozy news delivered straight to your inbox when you sign up to Time Out.

The best ways to mark Windrush Day in London this year

The best ways to mark Windrush Day in London this year

On June 22 1948, HMT Empire Windrush – which docked at Tilbury in Essex the day before – brought hundreds of Caribbean passengers who would soon make the UK their home. Seventy-one years later, the contribution of the Windrush Generation (those arriving 1948-71) to British society is enormous, not least in London. So no wonder there’s an annual day of celebration in the city with vibrant parties and thought-provoking events. Windrush Day this year falls on a weekend – Saturday June 22 – but events will be taking place all of next week and beyond. Here’s our pick of the best.  Radiate Windrush Festival Wendy Cummins Soak up the sounds, sights and delicious grub at London’s biggest celebration of the capital’s black communities. There’ll be a host of acts performing plus an art gallery, a children’s play zone and a food village with Caribbean, African and Creole cuisine. Crystal Palace Park. Crystal Palace Overground. Sat Jun 22-Sun Jun 23. £7-£10, £5 concs. Windrush Day at the Migration Museum There’ll be spoken word performances and appearances from actual Windrush elders at this day of activities which coincides with the Migration Museum’s new audiovisual exhibition, ‘Caribbean Takeaway Takeover: Identities and Stories’. The exhibition sees the museum café morph into a Caribbean takeaway, telling inspiring Windrush stories. Migration Museum at The Workshop. Vauxhall tube. Sat Jun 22. Exhibition until Jul 28. Free. Black Culture Pop-Up Market: Windrush Special Tamara A