We had a fabulous evening at Castle Menzies on August 4th. We were given a really warm welcome from our hosts and, with over 80 in our audience, we were delighted to bring our songs and the story of Carolina, Lady Nairne to Castle Menzies.
The evening was the idea of Fran Gillespie who wanted to raise awareness about the life and work of Archibald Menzies. Archibald was born in the Aberfeldy area in 1754 and was a pioneer in documenting and collecting plant species from around the world. As a surgeon naturalist he was an explorer and adventurer whose most distinctive addition to our gardens was the Monkey Puzzle Tree. Syd's background in forestry and his own research on David Douglas, another Perthshire plant hunter, meant we could not miss the opportunity to help Fran raise some much needed funds in order to support her plans to restore Menzies' grave in Kensal Green cemetery in London. Long neglected and hardly equal to the memory of such a notable Scot, Fran wanted to let people know about his life and work in order to restore the grave. Fran outlines her inspiration for her project and her hopes to rededicate a new gravestone in the coming year - see her guest blog post. Syd and I will be writing a new song dedicated to the famous Monkey Puzzle man!
As a contemporary of Lady Nairne, it seemed fitting that we intertwined his life with her experiences and the mix of songs and life stories was really well received. Our audience included the author Jim McCarthy who wrote a wonderful book on Archibald's life, Monkey Puzzle Man and we were delighted to chat to him afterwards.
Castle Menzies was a wonderful venue and we had a real mix of visitors and friends in the audience. Some new contacts in the US were made and we sent some tracks and information to From Albion and Beyond, a radio programme in Little Rock, Arkansas. Great to be in touch with Lady Nairne fans overseas! Lovely to see some friends, we thank you for your support, and thanks also to the Spanish family who didn't know anything about Lady Nairne, never mind Archibald Menzies, but who could not believe their luck to find real traditional songs and music being performed in a beautiful Scottish