Have you heard some people use the adjective 'little’ to describe Wales? The saying 'Little Wales' has been used for a long time. And if you were to look at a map of the world, it would be very difficult to find Wales because of its size. We would have to look very closely. There are a number of countries with many more people living in them.
Around 3.1 million people live in Wales, which is approximately:
Despite these small percentages, Wales’ influence around the world is great. People from all over the world have heard of Wales – thanks to specific people or things. Specific people and things have travelled from Wales around the world and other people – and other things – have travelled to Wales from around the world.
We have all heard of the 'land of poets and singers', but people know much more about Wales than this. Have you ever heard of the legend of Madog or heard about Welsh people’s journey to Patagonia in 1865? Who knows what mathematical symbols we would use in school today without the influence of Robert Recorde. And what would happen on the grass at Wimbledon every summer if Walter Clopton Wingfield had not invented tennis?!
Come and read more about our little country’s great influence on the rest of the world!
Bob Evans was a man from Ohio. He had a farm and a small restaurant, with space for 12 people to eat. The food was good but there was one problem – Bob Evans couldn’t find sausages good enough to sell in his restaurant.
In 1948, he decided to kill pigs from his own farm and use the best cuts of meat to make sausages – extremely tasty ones! According to the lorry drivers waiting to eat in the small restaurant, these were the best sausages in America!
The business developed. One restaurant became two and so on and this was the beginning of the Bob Evans Diners chain. Today, there are almost 600 Bob Evans diners in America. There is even a special festival during the second weekend of October each year – the Bob Evans Festival!
But what is the link with Wales?
In the nineteenth century, when life was very difficult in Wales, some people from Ceredigion decided to emigrate to North America to look for work. Many went to the Gallia and Jackson area, in Ohio, where Bob Evans later lived. He was a descendant of some of the Welsh people here.
So think... if Bob Evans' family had not travelled from Ceredigion to Ohio, there would be no Bob Evans Diners around America today – and what a loss that would be!
The Legend of Madog
Madog was one of the sons of Owain Gwynedd (Owain ap Gruffudd – King of Gwynedd). According to legend, Madog was the first person from Europe to discover America, long before Christopher Columbus. Legend has it that Madog sailed from the port of Rhos-on-Sea near Colwyn Bay in 1170 and discovered a country much further away than Ireland!
Madog reportedly landed in Mobile Bay, Alabama, on the Gulf of Mexico and settled in Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky. Following the discovery of the land and the new country it is said that he sailed up the Missouri river and developed a friendship with Indians of the Mandan tribe.
In the eighteenth century John Evans from Waunfawr, near Caernarfon sailed to America to discover if the story of Madog was true, looking for the Welsh-speaking Indians who had been established by Madog centuries earlier. Unfortunately he did not find Welsh-speaking Indians but he did make a valuable and important contribution to mapping parts of America so that others could navigate the waters in the future.
According to historians there is no basis for the legend of Madog. However a memorial to Madog was erected in 1953 near Fort Morgan, Alabama. Today a number of places with Welsh names have been named after him.
Dilys, Siân, Elsi and Jini
Support for Welsh small businesses has been fantastic over the years but the response to Welsh products has been remarkable since lockdown began. Many people in Wales are now deciding to buy from small businesses to support them. One business has also seen support come from beyond Wales.
We are all aware of the designs of the original and traditional Welsh girl but one small business has designed a new-look girl. Since being launched in 2020 Cartref Clyd has sold hundreds of t-shirts and jumpers featuring the Welsh characters and they are now available on many other products such as prints and bags.
The ideas for Cartref Clyd were designed by another small business called Mwydro and these characters have travelled beyond Wales and some even as far as New Zealand and Canada.
Table tennis around the world
Twins Megan and Angharad Phillips from Denbigh have been to 28 different countries – but not as tourists. They have been there to play in table tennis competitions and in the summer of 2014 they also played for Wales at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
They started playing when they were ten years old - when they were given a table tennis table as a Christmas present. They loved it and so decided to join a local club.
They enjoyed it so much they started to exercise seriously for about 10 hours a week, increasing this to 20 hours a week by the time they reached sixth form. They usually played twice a day – in the morning before going to school, then in the evening, after finishing their school work, or sometimes during free lessons at school.
What was the best place?
"… Las Vegas was the best place for me. I was competing in the US Open competition, but after the competition we had some time to explore the area... It's amazing!"
For Angharad, the most interesting place was…
".. India – but it was also a bit of a shock because of the difference between the life of the poor and the rich people.
If I asked you to name a Welsh sport, you would probably think of rugby or perhaps football, but would tennis have crossed your mind?
Almost 200 years ago, modern tennis was invented in Wales by Walter Clopton Wingfield who was born on the 16th of October 1833 in Montgomery.
The original tennis was very popular in Europe but at that time it was a game to be played indoors. The first version of the modern game was played on hour-glass shaped lawn and the net was about 50cm higher than the one we know today.
The game was originally called "Sphairistikè" which means "the art of ball play". Walter's friend Arthur Balfour suggested changing the name of the sport to “lawn tennis”. This new sport became more popular and the first tournament was held in 1874 in Birmingham. Walter Clopton Wingfield wasn't particularly good at his own sport and was not even selected to play in the first Wimbledon in 1877.
Nowadays the game is played throughout the world!
Brynhir, Trevelin, Patagonia, Argentina
After leaving the port of Liverpool on May 28, we arrived in Patagonia on the 28th of July.
The journey has been long and exhausting. We had dreadful storms and Mari and the children were sick for days. We often wondered whether the venture was worth all our money. After all, we paid 12 pounds each for Mari and me and six pounds for the children.
It was a pleasure to meet our fellow passengers during the journey. We are a diverse company of people – preachers, miners, a teacher, a doctor, quarrymen, a cobbler, not to mention the women and children. We all share the same vision, which is to establish a colony where we can live our life and sustain our culture through the medium of our beloved mother tongue. It is hard to believe, at times, that we will never return to the beloved old country.
I would like to say that life is very pleasant here but it is not as good as expected, I am afraid. We are living in caves because of a shortage of homes and the land seems barren and sterile.
We will move up the valley in a while to look for better land – land that we can farm and grow crops and rear animals on. We will have to work relentlessly to sustain our families and culture here. Yes, there is a lot of work ahead of us but I trust that we will have success.
Thirteen ships with open sails
Setting forth due West from Wales,
The fearless Madog we shall meet
As captain of the merry fleet.
A change of view, a change of scene,
A land to which no man has been;
This, a journey for the brave
Alongside God from wave to wave.
Stars and sun of night and day
Followed them in every way,
Winds and gales from sea and sky
Crashing with the waves so high;
But the vessels, on they sailed,
Throughout their quest, they never failed,
And there they reached a different shore
To live and die forever more.
Thirteen ships with closing sails
All far away from dear Wales,
And voices from the merry band
Are heard to cry, “We see the land.”
And so, departing from the sea,
They sing anew their melody,
And all together, peace they bring
And every man himself a king.