Annabelle Dowler is an actress and voice over artist living in Forest Hill. Among other theatre, TV and film work Annabelle plays Kirsty in BBC Radio 4’s The Archers.

What brought you here?

We’d been renting for years in Shepherds Bush and then Kilburn but wanted to buy and just couldn’t afford the prices there. I was doing a job and half the crew were based in South East London and said I should have a look at the area. As soon as I got out of the station at Forest Hill for our first flat viewing I got such a good feeling about the area and knew we’d be happy living here. That was over 7 years ago.

What has changed most during that time?

Pubs being renovated. Nice independent cafes popping up. House prices getting crazily high.

What do you most value about the area/street you live in?

The community feel. We have lovely friends and neighbours on our street who we and our kids socialize with. Plus the fact that although we’re just off the South Circular which I hate, our garden is a peaceful, green oasis full of wildlife.

What’s the one thing you couldn’t do without?

Shannons Garden Centre and the plant stall at Catford Broadway. I have an addiction to buying plants for the garden and have also recently discovered the gorgeous Alexandra Nurseries in Penge. Such a magical place to have a coffee surrounded by beautiful and quirkily displayed flowers and plants.

Do you belong to any groups?

I do ballet at the Honor Oak pub and am a member of the fantastic Green Tree Chorus Choir. I also like to try to hit a few balls at Sydenham Tennis club and Mayow park.

What’s your favourite place for a night out?

I love Little Nan’s Pop up in Stag and Bow in Forest Hill. It’s such a cool treasure trove and the cocktails in teapots are lethal.  I also love Jive Party at the Rivoli ballroom – it’s an amazing venue with fantastic live band and you get a jive class at the beginning of the night!

Coffee or tea? Where?

Coffee after school drop off in Cafe 41 on Brockley Rise – great coffee and very friendly staff. I also love St Davids. For tea and cake, Canvas and Cream or the cafe at the Horniman.

What’s your favourite place to go for a drink?

The choir I go to rotates for post singing drinks between The General Napier (The Nap), The Chandos and The Honor Oak. All very different in character! I also really like The Blythe Hill Tavern and Van Dough pizza is there on Thursdays and Fridays.

Where’s your favourite place to walk?

The Horniman gardens. It’s what massively attracted me to the area in the first place and is so beautiful all year round.

When I want to relax…

I lie on my sun lounger staring at my garden and listening to the birds! I spend a lot of time rushing around the place and travel up and down to Birmingham to record The Archers, but when the sun’s out I’m capable of being incredibly lazy.

What is your favourite shop?

Bunka. It’s my go to place for birthday presents and they have some lovely clothes in there too.

This article first appeared in the July 2018 issue of SE23 magazine