The Mariners Hotel was at the top of the town, near to what was becoming the inevitable castle, and was another rather old-fashioned hotel which still retained the cheaper single rooms, and everything except the restaurant seemed to be dealt with by the very friendly lady receptionist.
I decided to walk around the town and gain some sense of the its atmosphere and prosperity. Looked into the hotel restaurant which seemed attractive, clearly refurbished, and with a high quality menu. Walking back down the High Street was disappointing. The mainly local shops did not appear to be thriving and the road was carrying through traffic. I stood at the bottom looking around when someone carrying a shopping bag came along so I asked her where Boots was as this, I have discovered, is the best way of finding the retail centre. She said that it had moved to the edge of town with other, larger stores. I mentioned that the town centre seemed run down, she agreed and said it was sad and there were more and more empty shops and charity shops. On inquiring as to somewhere to eat she said that there was a newer area by the river, although there were not proper restaurants. She then used the phrase I had now heard several times on my journey, particularly later in evenings: “there’s always Wetherspoons”.
I walked down to the bridge with, to the right, the Western Cleddau flowing into the town and, to the left, the old wharves area. Further along the river was illuminated by lights from Greggs and the type of outlets you see in a service area on the motorway.
I went back up towards the castle meeting several others going in the same direction. It is perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the countryside . Checking the history, interestingly there was a Flemish connection. According to local records it was built by Tancred the Fleming; the original medieval town and castle would have been Flemish, not Norman, and remained in the Tancred family until 1210 so that is perhaps where the Flemish traditions at St Florence came from.
There was not a lot of the castle left but inside there was a fete with a band playing and various stalls and I was told it was part of the town’s festival weekend. There was an exciting atmosphere, everyone seemed intent on enjoying themselves, as indeed I found they were in Wetherspoons which, like Llanelli had the feel of a social club with groups settled in for a night’s cheerful conversation.