On Thursday evening I played for the function (annual party I think) of a major British boat and yacht making company. The party was at Richard Branson's Roof Gardens in Kensington. The Roof Gardens are quite breathtaking. It is quite something to walk off the busy high high street, go up an elevator and find yourself in a tranquil garden with flamingos dotting about freely. Yes that's right, Flamingos! there are four of them, affectionately given the names Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks. Bill and Ben have been in residence since the 1970s while relative newbies Splosh and Pecks didn't move in until 2008 according to the manager who took me on a tour before I set up my equipment.
The gardens are 75 years old (and have belonged to Virgin for 30 years) and were designed by The Gardens were originally designed by Ralph Hancock, at the time a well-known architect, whose legacy is acknowledged with a plaque you can see on the wall in the southwest corner of the English Woodland garden over the red bridge.
There are three themed gardens sprawling over 1.5 acres including fully grown oaks and fruit trees, growing in just 1.5m of soil, and a flowing stream stocked with fish and wildlife. One of these themed gardens is a Spanish garden and this is where I played. I performed mainly Spanish repertoire for this function as it fitted the surroundings perfectly.
I will be back at the gardens during the summer when they celebrate their 75th birthday with various different events. They are even introducing two more new flamingos to the gardens to keep Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks company!