You couldn’t get closer in proximity to the cave, just 400yds away; in the menu, prepared by medievalist and expert in ancient diets Prof. Iona McCleary; and in atmosphere, created by Caliban’s Dream, medieval musicians. Each of the gathered guests had been invited on the strength of their service to the town ‘in the spirit of St Robert’. The marquee had withstood all that a recent storm could throw at it and provided a rustic setting with solid bench-tables around which the guests chatted, took pictures and soaked in the atmosphere. Our caterers had faithfully reproduced the menu and both our current and past Mayors helped serve the special Saint Robert brew, enjoyed by all.
Our host for the afternoon, Sue Whalley, welcomed us with a short poem. David Goode, later in the proceedings, pointed out some of the peculiarities of the medieval palette – very interesting! Before our desert, Peter Lacey shared some thoughts as to ‘why celebrate with a feast?’ when St. Robert himself was devoted to simple, even sacrificial living. He suggested that the spirit of community and recognising those who serve would have been close to St. Robert’s heart. But perhaps most significant was that, despite St. Robert’s earthy privations, he looked forward to a feast spoken about in the Bible when a new heaven and a new earth would be established. There then followed the distribution of copies of Tales of the Celebrity Hermit, along with a luggage label on which guests were invited to note a thought or a prayer to be left, as was becoming custom, at the cave site hanger from St. Robert’s outstretched hands.