I was born Patricia Mary one of three children, in 1957. I was actually born in the "Police Station" as my late father was a serving Police Officer in the Glamorgan Force.
My father was born in 1926 in in the Rhondda valley. He sadly died in 1989, I miss him more than I can say.
My mother was also born in 1926 in Llwynypia in the Rhondda valley, she was one of seven children.
I spent my whole childhood, well up to the age of 20, moving from town to town within the South West of Wales. Each time my father was promoted within the Police Force we 'moved' house. I was 4 years of age when I moved from Pencoed to Gowerton, from there we moved to Pontygwaith near Ferndale, then to Hengoed, then onto Ystrad Mynach, from there we moved to Caerphilly, then back to Hengoed, we then moved to Bridgend, from there we moved to Neath ( that was the best move of all for me as this was only a few miles from Pontardawe) then on to Barry. Here my father decided to retire and we remained.
All these different towns offered wonderful things nice schools, places to play, and best of all lovely homes, thats one thing my mother never failed to provide for us, no matter how many houses we had to move to, she always made them comfortable, and some of them were huge, cold Police Stations, not an easy task by any means.
At least it wasn't a boring childhood, although I never had any roots, I never failed to make friends, but because I moved so frequently I never sadly retained those friends. So after spending 24 years here in Barry this is where my roots are, not exactly the nicest of places, but not the worst of places, this is where my friends and family are, so I am content. Well reasonably.
I have spent a little time here on these pages, talking about 'my' Wales the places where I have lived, I may only have spent short periods in some of them, but I remember them all with fond memories.
But first a little about Wales the country........
It is in Wales, perhaps, that the cultural separation of the British Isles remains strongest, certainly linguistically. For that, we must look to the mid eighth century, when a long ditch was constructed, flanking a high earthen rampart that divided the Celts$of the West from the Saxons to the East and which, even today marks the boundary between those who consider themselves Welsh from those who consider themselves English. The boundary is known as "Offa's Dyke," in memory of Offa, the king of Mercia (the middle kingdom), who ordered it built. It runs from the northeast coast of Wales to the southeast coast.
The Dyke was originally built only as an attempt by Offa to give his territories a well-defined western boundary. According to Welsh historian John Davies, "Offa's Dyke was perhaps the most striking man-made boundary in the whole of Western Europe." To cross the ramparts, for hundreds of years, meant bloody defiance, even though many Welsh-speaking communities remained to the east of the boundary, and English-speaking communities existed to the west, in Wales itself. Today, you can still see much of the remains of this barrier, consisting of a bank of earth, ditched mostly on the western side. Its average height is six feet, with an average overall width of 60 feet across bank and ditch. It travels 149 miles, from Prestatyn, in Flintshire all the way south to Sedbury on the River Severn.
The Geography of Wales
Wales, on the western shores of Britain, has a maximum length of 140 miles and is 100 miles across at its widest. It is a mountainous country. Around one quarter of the land is above 305m (1,000ft) and in the north the peak of Snowdon rises to 1,085m (3,560ft), the highest point in England and Wales. Wales' 732-mile coastline is a varied one, consisting of bays, beaches, peninsulas and cliffs. The largest bay - Cardigan Bay - gives the west-facing Welsh coastline its distinctive 'horseshoe' shape. The largest island, connected to the mainland by road and rail bridges, is Anglesey in the north.
The Landscape of Wales
Wales' landscape is essentially rural. In terms of land use, 81% is used for agriculture, 12% is covered in woodland, and only 8% is categorised as urban.
Most of the country's population of 3.5 million is concentrated in the south-eastern corner around the capital city of Cardiff. The city, population 270,000, grew up in the 19th century as a coal-exporting port. The Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries had its major impact in South Wales, where the iron and steel factories and coalmines were concentrated. Swansea, also in the south, is Wales' second city with a population of 177,000. Newport, to the east of Cardiff near the Welsh border, has a population of 130,000. Like Cardiff, Swansea and Newport owe their growth to the industries of South Wales and their location as ports on the Bristol Channel.
Geographically, South Wales is a region of sharp contrasts. The border country around Monmouth, Abergavenny and the Wye Valley consists of rolling hills and rich farmlands. Next door are the steep-sided, heavily populated "valleys" running from north to south and carved by rivers such as the Taff and Rhondda, where coal was mined in great quantities in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Immediately to the north of these are the Brecon Beacons, green, open mountains rising to the summit of Pen-y-Fan, at 886m (2,907ft) the highest point in South Wales.
To the south, the valleys subside into more rich farming country in the Vale of Glamorgan, a prosperous lowland area between Cardiff and Swansea. Further west in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire the landscape is again shaped by farming, though amongst the patchwork of fields there are also bare hills, moors and wooded river valleys.
South Wales Coastline
The coastline of South Wales is a varied one. Though there is evidence of commercial and industrial development along the shores of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, much of the remote, cliff-backed shoreline between Wales' three main cities has been declared 'Heritage Coast'. Immediately west of Swansea is the unspoilt Gower Peninsula, followed by the sands and estuaries of Carmarthen Bay.
Pembrokeshire in the far west is home to Britain's only coastal based national park. Amongst intense natural beauty, there are the stark scenic contrasts along the deepwater fjord of the Milford Haven waterway.
About Saint David
Dewi Sant / St David - a Saint of the Celtic Church - son of Sandde, Prince of Powys, and Non, daughter of a Chieftain of Menevia whose lands included the peninsula on which the little cathedral town of St Davids now stands.
David became the Abbot of Ty Ddewi / St Davids and died on 1st March 589AD. He was buried in what is today St Davids Cathedral in Pembrokeshire. So respected was he that medieval pilgrims believed that two pilgrimages to St Davids were worth one pilgrimage to Rome! Fifty churches in South Wales alone bear his name. March 1st, St David's Day, is now the traditional day of the Welsh - celebrated by Welsh people all over the world, wearing either of the national emblems - a leek or a daffodil. Usually the day's celebrations will include either a Noson Lawen (Folk Evening), an eisteddfod or a dinner with a guest speaker
The Welsh Flag
A red dragon passant on a green and white field. No-one really knows how the red dragon became the emblem of Wales. However, it seems that the early Britons probably used it as a battle standard, after the Roman occupation and that it may derive from a Roman Standard. One clue to this theory is that the English word "Dragon" and the Welsh word "Draig" both come from the same latin root "draco".
In any case the dragon has become a symbol identified with Wales. A legend recorded by an 8th century historian tells of a fight between a red and a white dragon, which ends with the eventual triumph of the red dragon - representing Wales. In 1959, the Queen commanded that the Red Dragon on a green and white field be flown as the official Welsh flag
There are many legends telling us how the leek came to be the national emblem of Wales. A popular one is that St David advised the Britons on the eve of a battle with the Saxons, to wear leeks in their caps so as to easily distinguish friend from foe. This helped to secure a great victory. It is also thought that the same thing occurred when Welsh archers fought with Henry V at the battle of Agincourt. Hence, the wearing of leeks on St David's Day. It is still a surviving tradition that soldiers in the Welsh regiments eat a raw leek on St David's Day.
Possibly one of the reasons why the daffodil is used as an emblem is that the word for daffodil and for leek are similar in Welsh (Cenhinen = Leek, Cenhinen Pedr = Daffodil). This confusion means that both have been adopted as national emblems.
The harp is regarded as the national instrument of Wales. Although it enjoyed a special status in Wales for a thousand years or more, no native harp from earlier than 1700 survives today. Some manuscript sources provide information about the harp and its music around the medieval period in Wales.
By the end of the 18th century, the triple harp - so called because it had three rows of strings - was widely known as the Welsh harp on account of its popularity in Wales. Although generally thought to have been invented in Wales it was, in fact, one of the baroque instruments devised in Italy about 100 years earlier. The harp has been used through the ages as an accompaniment to folk-singing and dancing and as a solo instrument.
A lovespoon is a wooden spoon carved by a young man and presented to his sweetheart as a token of his affection. The earliest surviving specimen is dated 1667 but the custom was widespread in Wales before that date. The spoon may be plain or intricately decorated with various symbols - birds, hearts, wheels, balls - each representing different meanings of good luck, the blessing of children, wealth, health, etc. Nowadays, lovespoons are not given so often as a token of affection, but are a popular souvenir of Wales.
Welsh is a Celtic language, related to Breton, Irish and Scots Gaelic. Its roots are lost in time, but it is regarded by some scholars to be Europe's oldest living language. Welsh and English enjoy equal validity in Wales and approximately one quarter of the population speaks Welsh fluently. In many parts of Wales at least seven out of ten people are Welsh speaking, and use Welsh as their first language at home and at work. Visitors will hear Welsh spoken as an every day language.
Children in Wales may receive infant, primary and secondary education through the medium of Welsh, and, in some instances, students may receive a college education in Welsh. Spoken Welsh varies in dialect in different parts of the country. Written Welsh is standard. Since 1982, there has been a Welsh language television channel, S4C.
There is a growing interest in learning the language. Adult courses are widely available. There are also several centres specialising in residential courses, welcoming overseas as well as UK students.
The National Anthem
The National Anthem is the result of co-operation between father and son. It is said that a weaver from Pontypridd in the South Wales Valleys, Evan James, wrote the words one Sunday morning in January 1856 to a tune composed by his son James James, which was possibly based on an old harp melody.
The date of the song's adoption as the National Anthem is uncertain, but it is known that the tune was given prominence during the National Eisteddfod held at Bangor in 1874, and since that date has been considered the song which, more than any other, expresses Welsh national sentiment.
Now afforded official status as the National Anthem of Wales by general assent, Hen Wlad fy Nhadau is sung on a wide variety of occasions throughout the country.
Hen Wlad fy Nhadau
Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion enwogion o fri
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwlad garwyr tra mad Tros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.
Gwlad, Gwlad Pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad
Tra môr yn fur i'r bur hoff bau
O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau
The land of my fathers is dear to me,
A land of poets and minstrels, famed men.
Her brave warriors, patriots much blessed,
It was for freedom that they lost their blood.
Homeland! I am devoted to my country;
So long as the sea is a wall to this fair beautiful land
May the ancient language remain
Welsh National costume evolved in Wales in the late 18th century as a development of costume worn in town and country. The typical female costume, as designed and made popular by Lady Llanover, was made up of the following:
Tall hat, made out of hard board with thin beaver fabric glued on to it, white cap, worn under the hat, made of cotton or muslin with long frilled lappets extending down the shoulders, bedgown, petticoat, small shawl, cloak, apron. The garments are made of Welsh flannel. The costume is usually worn by young girls throughout Wales on St David's Day.