Londoner's Diary: Roof Gardens’ flamingos in the pink in Norfolk

Evening Standard
Feathered friends: (Courtesy of Pensthorpe Natural Park)

They worked for years in one of London’s most glamorous high-rise spots, dazzling sozzled guests with their exotic looks, but now, at last, they can put their foot down: the flamingos of Kensington Roof Gardens, the Richard Branson-owned venue, have found a new home.

Earlier this year the west London club, restaurant and bar surprised regulars by shutting its doors after years of hosting parties attended by the likes of Serena Williams, Madonna and Prince Charles. Despite the A-list guests, though, the flamingos were always the star attraction, and The Londoner hears they have been moved in north Norfolk, aka Chelsea-on-Sea.

Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks have been rehoused in Pensthorpe Natural Park, a 700-acre nature reserve near Fakenham, 10 miles from the coast as the flamingo flies. They’ve joined Pens-thorpe’s already 25-strong flock of flamingos, though they spent their first few days in the cooler: the two groups were initially in separate pens so the newcomers could acclimatise but have now become integrated.

“Flamingos are generally social birds, hence why they’ve probably enjoyed living the high life in London,” Chrissie Kelley, head of species management at the park, says. “So we are confident they will enjoy the next chapter of their lives among our flock.”

Pensthorpe is owned and run by Bill and Deb Jordan, who founded Jordans Cereals. Deb Jordan said: “Norfolk, in particular north Norfolk, is famously a hotbed for Londoners looking to retire from life in the capital in favour of a slower pace and rural setting.” She added: “However, this is the first time I’ve known of flamingos making the move.”

What a feather in their cap.


The Wellcome Collection’s new exhibition, Somewhere in Between, opened last night, with artwork exploring subjects such as free-diving, synaesthesia and, er, breeding cattle. Maria McKinney’s piece, Sire, shows Irish stud bulls wearing harnesses made of agricultural semen straws, which are exactly what they sound like. “We’ve got everything except the bull here,” one Wellcome staffer told The Londoner. “The room was a bit small.”

Hilder joins race to Labour power base

THERE’S a new challenger in the race to become Labour’s next General Secretary, a powerful position in the party: Paul Hilder. Jennie Formby of the Unite union, and Jon Lansman, founder of Momentum, are already running.

Hilder co-founded Crowdpac, a crowdfunding website for politics, with Steve Hilton, former David Cameron adviser, and was a fan of Bernie Sanders. “I’m a campaign innovator and I’ve advised Momentum, #Grime4Corbyn and many others,” Hilder says.

He first applied for the role back in 2011. Will his approach fare better in the Corbyn era?

Quote of the day

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

“I didn’t really see how I could be in a period drama without playing a slave.”

Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who played the title character in period drama Belle, tells Vogue that stereotypes limit race representation in historical films

Early rises tuck in for Women's Day

Hungry ladies: Anouska Beckwith,Christina Franco and Tamara Beckwith (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images)

In honour of International Women’s Day, Lady Garden welcomed a hungry crowd for breakfast at the South Kensington Club this morning.

Founded by a team including Chloe Delevingne and Astrid Harbord, the Lady Garden Campaign aims to raise awareness for gynaecological cancer and its symptoms. The campaign wishes to break the taboo surrounding vaginas so women are aware “when something is not right”. Actress Tara Fitzgerald and singer Dominique Tipper were among the guests, Tamara Beckwith chatted with her daughter Anouska, explorer Christina Franco and Jenny Halpern Prince – founding member of the Gynaecological Cancer Fund and founder of Halpern -

Tamara and Mika Simmons, also part of the Lady Garden team, are encouraging women to join the third 10k run at London’s Hyde Park on Saturday 9th June 2018.


Think the Beast from the East made your commute difficult? Try a walk to the Poles. Last night the Roundhouse in Camden threw a party to tip a hat to Antarctic Enterprise, the team of entrepreneurs who skied to the geographic South Pole in December. Entertainment was provided by Sophie Ellis-Bextor and some of the Roundhouse’s Resident Artists, and guests toasted the six-figure fundraising with negronis and martinis. Served ice cold, naturally.

Swinson’s Lib-Dem glass

TO CELEBRATE International Women’s Day today Jo Swinson, pictured, the Lib-Dem deputy leader, has been fighting the good fight. Earlier this week she questioned the party’s frequent social meet-up Lib-Dem Pint.

“I’m not saying women can’t drink pints, but I suspect that if you look at the Venn diagram of people most likely to drink pints it’s not majority women,” she said. Speaking at a Grassroots Women panel at the SMF, she told audience members: “And personally, if you’d had Lib-Dem Prosecco, I’d have thought that would be way more inviting.”

The Lib-Dem Pint was launched in the wake of the party’s shattering collapse in the 2015 election. The hashtag LibDemFightback began trending on Twitter in the aftermath of the defeat — and soon eager activists found a way to drown their sorrows while plotting their comeback at the same time.

So if Swinson can get even more glasses clinking, we’re sure the Lib-Dems will drink to that.

Tweet of the day

Apology of the day: after claiming millennials are wrong to pity Frankenstein’s monster, The Sun showed remorse today: “We’d like to apologise to him and all fictitious monsters for any offence caused.” Mary Shelley would approve.


Time for Mrs May to get cracking

Eggcellent. Theresa May has finally found her place in Parliament. Today Mo Metcalf-Fisher, Conservative Progress, spotted the PM’s new House of Commons egg cup, which has just been released. But is she hard-boiled or soft-boiled? Breakfast means breakfast…


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