Life Swaps Timberland trendsetters exchange lives for a weekend featured
The Old Police Station 'ello, 'ello, 'ello

There’s always been a defiant element to urban renewal: Reclaiming spaces abandoned by the powers that be, and repackaging them for the enrichment of the local community. It’s contemporary cultural Robin Hoodism is what it is — just with the nice, green trees of Sherwood forest replaced by crumbling masonry.

Down in deepest, darkest Deptford this sentiment certainly rings true, where an old police station on Amersham Vale has been coerced out of retirement to serve a new purpose as an artistic hub. Imaginatively rechristened The Old Police Station, the former clink is now home to a bunch of artist studios, project spaces, radio stations, recording studios and social spaces. Running on a ‘do-it-yourself’ kind of basis, anyone is free to to rent out one of the spaces for as long as they like and fill it with whatever they like.

This makes for an eclectic program, meaning on any given day you might come across a heady blend of art installations (which tend to lean to the funky, experimental side of things), gigs, supper clubs, and so forth. They also hold exhibitions in the prison cells too, so you can flirt with life behind bars — only you’ll have interesting stuff to look at as you wile away your incarceration, not just a toilet.

Danielle Arnaud Make yourself at home featured

No matter how committed a gallery trekker you are, it can get tiresome eating up white cubic space after white cubic space. Sure, it’s a blank canvas that puts the focus on the stuff on show blah blah blah [insert impenetrable high art mumbo-jumbo here]. But it’s boring. Variety is the spice of life, as the old adage goes.

That’s why it’s nice when someone, or in this case Danielle Arnaud, bucks the trend and makes a gallery out of their three-storey townhouse instead: Furniture, floorboards, fireplaces and all. Plus there are windows, actual windows, that look out onto the street. It doesn’t feel like some self-contained, self-important vacuum where the works on show don’t interact with what lies beyond the walls.

And it’s appropriate that it’s in Kennington (a far cry from commercial hubs like Soho or Mayfair), too, because it’s all about allowing artists to do their thing without having to compromise themselves in lieu of sales or trends. There are 17 artists — including mixed media installationist Rieko Akatsuka and edgy illustrator Oona Grimes — attached to the gallery, and a laundry list of others exhibiting in the space across myriad mediums. In a nutshell, it’s like your living room, just with much, much more interesting things to ogle at. Unless you’re Danielle Arnaud, of course.

Peters & Co. Gin Palace Sippin' on gin and jellied eels

You’d be hard pressed to find anything more British than a plate of pie, mash and jellied eel. Purveyors of this heinous sounding yet awesome tasting Cockney staple even outdate fish and chip shops (so stick that in your deep fat fryer and… I don’t know… fry it?). One such traditional pie man on Broadway market, the venerable F. Cooke, has recently out-Britished its peers, though, by teaming up with the undisputed fuel of the empire: Gin.

Or, more specifically, by hosting a gin pop-up bar — Peters & Co. Gin Palace — proving that even the most old school of East London institutions can’t withstand Dalston’s pop-up onslaught anymore. Thankfully, though, such Dalstonification isn’t apparent when you step inside Peters (as it becomes from 7pm onwards from Thursday to Saturday). It still looks and feels like a pie shop. There’s the vertigo-inducing lino floor, dated tiling, and the no-bullshit feel that’s effortlessly maintained during the day — when real locals hammer through piles of meat and crust, and talk in code (i.e. Cockney rhyming slang) to each other.

This puts the focus firmly on the liquid libations, and deservedly so. Peters stocks a mean list of fine and artisan gins (Hendricks, Sipsmiths, Death’s Door etc.), and they make a world beating G&T — served straight-up in a heavy duty tumbler with chipped ice cubes and a fat wedge of lemon. The cocktail list is a little too slimline perhaps, but what is on there definitely impresses. The Death Sting Martini, for example, has enough firepower to ruin you, your mother, and grandmother too.

White Lyan Cocktail nerdistry

Nomadic bartending extraordinaire Ryan Chetiyawardana has made a hell of a name for himself throwing curveballs at the cocktail rulebook in recent years. White Lyan, formerly the White Horse pub, now a stripped-down, paint-it-black enclave of experimentation, is the mound that he’s currently pitching from.

Perishables (translation: Ice and fruit) and branded products find no home here. Everything in those elegant, stoppered glass bottles (mixers, bitters and even the pre-made spirit mixes) are produced, painstakingly, in-house. You’ll understand why when they’ve been imaginatively blended to form a drink like nothing you’ve ever come across before.

Case in point, the Moby Dick Sazerac: Rye whisky, Peychaud’s bitters, absinthe-soaked rice paper and ambergris. Yup, ambergris—because it adds body, obviously. If such liquid wizardry is lost on you, there’s a wine of each colour and a czech lager to tide you over. To opt for one of the three is to miss the point though. This place does cocktails, and you won’t find the like of what they mix anywhere else.

Shimmy London Leave your inhibitions at the door

Daring eccentricity rules supreme at this late-night den of decadence. Optical illusions and Victorian trinkets are dotted about the secretive, candle-lit space—complete with exposed-brick alcoves and a wardrobe-cum-staircase in the corner. Behind the scrabble-tiled bar meanwhile, the staff, dressed in Gatsby-esque getup, mix and blend cocktails with a healthy twist. Amongst them is the ‘Smoking Gun’—a Glenmorangie, Laphroaig, honey water, ginger syrup, lemon Juice and soda concoction that’s sure to put your mind in sync with Shimmy’s surrounds. Prudes, beware—there’s a chance you’ll catch an eyeful through the peepholes in the toilets.

Sager + Wilde Bacchus hits Hackney Road

After a successful pop-up stint in Shoreditch back in 2012, husband and wife team Michael and Charlotte Sager-Wilde ventured further east in search of a more permanent spot for their eponymous wine bar. An old pub on a barren stretch of Hackney Road, they decided, was the place for them. Out went the old interior and in came Edwardian parquet flooring, exposed brickwork, some ‘20s German station lights and one mother of a metallic wine rack. Sager + Wilde had set down its roots.

Now well and truly open for business, it’s bringing some serious grape culture into a neighbourhood of high-rises and chicken joints. Premium and rare wines (over 30 of them) are available by the glass, to be sipped or slugged as you please—including a sherry-esque white rioja and a fruit bomb of a Californian cabernet sauvignon. For the less vine-inclined there are bottles of Hackney Downs’ Five Points beer. Meanwhile, artisan cheeses and a wealth of Italian charcuterie rule the snacking roost—as they should in any self-respecting, high-grade wine den.

Acne Studios Full metal jacket featured

Lifestyle brand Acne have always done things a little differently. Founded by four creatives from different artistic and cultural backgrounds in Stockholm back in 1996, the label was founded on two central tenets: Flexibility and dynamism. And judging by their new store on the South Ken, Chelsea and Knightsbridge axis, they’re still hell-bent on innovation and a multidisciplinary approach to fashion nearly 20 years on.

A functional take on the artist’s atelier, this Pelham Street store is a carefully blended combination of contrasting aesthetics. Raw, perforated aluminium walls and display cabinets are offset by plush carpeting, with the mini terrazzo stairwells mediating between the space between hard and soft. The rails and concealed cabinets, meanwhile, are decked out with Acne’s latest mens and womenswear collections, and there’s also dedicated spaces for their denim, shoes and accessories lines as well.

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