Monday, October 29, 2012

All Wales Coast Path - Llybr Arfordir Cymru

A new coastal path opened in 2012, running (walking) from Chepstow to Queensferry.  That is near Chester, and where we had left Wales only to get lost among the half-timbers in England.  There are some 870 miles to explore along the way.  See the Long Distance Walkers Association site, ; and The Financial Times, April 28-29, 2012 at Life and Arts at p. 9.

Some 1300 long-distance walk routes are listed at the site.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lawrence of Arabia, Complex Son of Lord and Governess. Wales, Caernarvonshire

A Son of Wales

Lawrence of Arabia
Lawrence of Tremadoc
Lawrence of Arabia, a Welshman, would you believe. Some purists would say, not Welsh, because he represents a shadow line of Irish nobility, not the indigenous Welsh.

Still, Thomas Edward Lawrence, a/k/a Lawrence of Arabia, was born in Tremadoc, Caernarvonshire, Wales in 1888. His father was a peer (Sir Thomas Chapman, Seventh Baronet of Westmeath, Ireland) who fell in love with the family's governess, Sarah Junner, but the Lady Chapman refused to divorce, see :// They had daughters at the time.

So Sir Chapman moved out and lived with Sarah Junner thereafter. Sarah then had five sons with Thomas, never marrying because he could not get the divorce. The family moved about.

Upbringing for the young T. E. Lawrence was not conventional, in the sense that all five children in this second family remained illegitimate.

Questions -Where did the last name, "Lawrence", come from? Not his mother, not his father. What was the first family and what happened to them? What did the Chapman-Junner children inherit? T. E. Lawrence apparently died without much. The Chapman family traces back to 1517, see :// Here are some answers: the first family produced daughters, and the title of the Baronetcy died with Sir Chapman in 1919, see://' Their castle was Killua Castle, see :// In 2000, it was on the market for the equivalent of some $365,000 - but in ruins. Sir Walter Raleigh planted potatoes there. See ://

After travels, everybody ended in Oxford, and then "Ned" went on to Syria, and Arabia, doing archeology.

Talk about a walk. He walked some 1100 miles, a walking tour, in Syria, Palestine, Turkey. He developed a close relationship with Arab culture - this site calls it a "love affair" - see :// His special friend was Dahoum there, a 14-year-old water boy when he met him.

Then, during World War I, T.E. Lawrence used his Turkish and Arabic language skills to assist the British Army, and went to Cairo as an interpreter, interviewing Turkish prisoners. On his own, without informing London, he joined in the Great Arab Revolt against the Turks. He rode hundreds of miles with the fighters to strike the Turks then attacking Aqaba - and was victorious. Brave, legendary in his time there, engaging in brilliant guerrilla warfare, several times wounded, and wearing Arab dress. London learned of his role in undermining the Turks, was pleased, and authorized T.E.Lawrence' s further push with the Arabs, now part of the Allies, toward Damascus.

He wrote his autobiography and accounts of adventures in the Arab revolt in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, published in 1927. He dedicated the book to Dahoum. See // He wrote The Mint, about the Air Force, see below, and that has been compared to the work of Ernest Hemingway, see the firstworldwar site.

He died in 1935, in obscurity after celebrity, having opposed later policies toward the Arabs; and after a motorcycle accident. See :// He is buried at St. Martin at Wareham, Dorset.

John Hume Ross: Lawrence took that name to join the Royal Air Force. Thomas Edward Shaw: Lawrence took that name to join the Tank Corps when Ross was found out. Then, in 1925, back to the Air Force as Shaw, and off to India.

Rape in war is taken for granted as to women, is it not; so why should rape of a man be of any more significance. None rationally, only culturally. One gender is expendable, the other not. News. Life is unfair. And here, see the element of voluntariness in the "I gave away". And note the need to tell.

A quotation from the site --
"In 1916 he was captured and subjected to beatings and homosexual rape by the Turkish governor of Deraa, ''an ardent pederast'' (Lawrence's own term). Though he escaped, Lawrence was shattered by the experience. ''I gave away the only possession we are born into the world with - our bodily integrity,'' he later wrote."
He indeed harbored masochistic tendencies, says this site, see ://, so that could explain the enigmatic reference to the Deraa era, and some of the later film's scenes.

Home page: :// See 1963 film, Lawrence of Arabia, with Peter O'Toole. Read review from The Village Voice at the time, with wry criticisms and ironies, re role of mortifications, at ://

Thursday, February 19, 2009

David Lloyd George, The Seat of Caernarvon, Wales - WWI

David Lloyd George 1865-1945
Lloyd George

Lloyd George. The Welsh Wizard. According to this site, who else can challenge Winston Churchill as the greatest British political figure in  the 20th Century. No-one. See an everyman's  biography at

Born in England, raised in Wales by extended family, a cobbler-clergyman uncle.&nbsp. He won the Carnaervon seat in Parliament, see castle. He was complex in his private life, but in public life, dedicated to ordinary people and their needs. He became Prime Minister, had ongoing problems bridging gaps between competing interests, including the army, and found that support from groups joining him for one purpose, was not support to be relied on for another purpose.

A handy summary of his life is at ://  he ensured the steady flow of materiel to the western front that led to victory.

Wales. Small. Big people arising out of its culture.

Raised by an uncle, shoemaker and clergy. Tribute to the the strength of the extended family to any child?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Welsh Origin of "America" name? Vet Everything.

 Names and Roots
Vet Everything.
In school, we were taught that "America" came from "Amerigus Vespucci," an explorer.

There is another theory. 

John Cabot, also an explorer, had a Welsh crew who boarded his ship at Bristol, England. 

Here is the folk myth:  that the name America derives from "ap Meuric," in Welsh meaning the "son of Maurice", says Wikipedia at

That leads to this extension:  that America was named for Richard Amerike, or Ameryk (see the ap Meuric stem), who was a financial backer of John Cabot's second voyage to the New World, in 1497.  Without financial backers, where would America be?  Richard ap Meuric, Richard Amerike, Richard Ameryk, see the Wikipedia site.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gypsies in Wales - Would You Believe

So easy to pass by the poor. Shanty towns at a distance from the road, litter, people in a dump. We think of Gypsies in colorful clothing with castanets or at least with something to set them apart. Not so. Europe is full of them, but now just the poor with their own customs, ways, language, nobody pays attention. Look for them. These are people.

Little Wales. So forgotten. So hindside. But now we find that a group or clan of gypsies, or Travellers, known as Kane, settled there. And that there is another group, called "Cale" that settled in Spain. See chronology of migrations and events and maps at // Who came first? Where did Michael Caine come from, the actor? See Gypsies, Roma, surnames.

For current policies, governmental issues, do a search for Travellers Wales, and up will come information with a huge URL - too long to reproduce.

Place holder: in the England Road Ways, and Ireland Road Ways, and Scotland Road Ways, we found reference to the "Cane" as a name for Welsh gypsies, and "Kane" as a reference for Spanish gypsies, and wondered about who got where when. Still looking it up. Do on your own - this is interesting stuff.

Read about the Romani Cymru, the Romany Wales Project (nonprofit, archival) at // There are photographs by T.J.Lewis, and a summary of the prejudices still keeping Roma apart, or if assimilated, from revealing their heritage.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Place Names. Language. Surnames. Welsh American Patriots.

 Naming Places and Bearing Surnames from Other Origins

1. Place names from the Welsh

Any map in the US may well show a place name that derives from Wales, or another country where the immigrants from it settled and wanted to feel at home.  Other countries may be more familiar:
  • Paris, Maine. 
  • Berlin, Connecticut. 
  • Toledo, Ohio, etc. 
For Welsh, see the Philadelphia area.  Welsh derivations:
  • Bryn Mawr,  Bala Cynwyd, St. Davids, Llanerch, Merion, and Gladwyn (Gladwynne? we forget), PA.  See the Jackdied website at // for place names, and also explorer origins below.  See also /; click on the language section of the menu for sound tracks on how Welsh sounds.  For the Philadelphia group, there migrations of Welsh Quakers to that area, called the Welsh Tract, see ://
  • In Ohio, go to Jackson County, or Gallia County - known regionally as "Little Cardiganshire." See
  • Cambria County, PA.  See more at Wikipedia://
  • William Penn first named Pennsylvania "New Wales".  See the Wikipedia site.

Go to the home page at

For northeast Wales, the BBC did a research project on the names of prefixes, suffixes, nouns and adjectives from various cultures incorporated into or stemming from the Welsh - including Viking references and where Viking ships have been found buried.  See ://

2.  Surnames from the Welsh

Presidents and Patriots came from Welsh stock  - see Wikipedia at://

Our Welsh heritage includes these. Note that 20% of the Pilgrims were Welsh or of Welsh background, says the BBC at ://

  • Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and later President, see That site also says that 20% of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Welsh
  • William Penn - name means "head" in Welsh
  • Robert Morris - is he the Robert Morris who married his 14 year old ward? See The National Library of Wales, Welsh Biography Online at ://  no, ours is the financier of the Revolution, and signer of most of the founding documents, see The Welsh Society of Philadelphia, at ://
  • John Marshall, Chief Justice, United States, and shaper of Constitutional Law - read "Great American Lawyers," by John R. Vile 2001, at the Google Book section at; also seehis biography at Spiritus Temporis at ://
  • Abraham Lincoln - Nationmaster at ://
Regular people:  The Joneses.

Jones is generally seen as a Welsh name. See ://  Study the Welsh at Rio Grande Community College in Ohio at ://

3.  Welsh roots - these go even deeper than discovery and colonial times.  There were, it is said, settlers after Erikson, and before Columbus -  read the tale, and the possible genetics in some Native American Mandan tribes, speaking a form of Welsh, at the Encyclopedia Britannica site, ://  The Mandans were destroyed by smallpox, 1848 or so. See more at Jackdied,:// - are our origins more Welsh than we ever were told. Nationmaster however, and other sources say that the Madog ab Owain Gwynedd story,  see below, has been discredited and lacks historical basis, see ://

Excellent fact site: Nationmaster at ://

Even Connecticut has mysterious walls and round stone huts? Or are we too far north east.  This article notes mysterious origins of those in other areas.  For your own imagation's sake, read the legend of  Madog ab Owain Gwynedd. Do read the Britannia site. It also has a side menu of history, people.

Dabbling. And while we are dabbling, find

  • Welsh music at ://; and 
  • read a book from the library called, "How Green Was My Valley," by Richard Llewellyn, at; later a fabulous 1941 film, see "How Green Was My Valley" at

Monday, February 12, 2007

Celtic and Druid , and Tudor, traditions

We may think of Wales as an afterthought to a trip to England. The history of Wales offers more than that. See It is too much to summarize here, but worth a full read on customs, religion, the craftwork. We may see the display of heads after battle as just gory. But the head to the Celt is the place of spiritual power, so the taking of a head and its display take on a different overtone - appropriating that power. They fought naked and dyed blue. Were all the women strong and the kids handsome? The Romans took notice of Boadicaa, the warrior queen, who revolted against them. Some sites place Boadicaa in East Anglia - others place her from Wales. Read about her revolt against the Romans at

Also, look up the myths, the Welsh cycle of Mabinogion that includes stories of a giant we know more as King Arthur - ridding the area of "witches, monsters and giants" with his own band of "witches, monsters and giants. Go to Myths pass from culture to culture, and finally congeal into what somebody later sets up as a single life. - see the Robin Hood stories atEngland Road Ways. Many stories, over long years, using the John Doe name of Robin Hood, then seen as one person.

The Tudor royal family stems from Wales. See Click on the red rose in the upper left corner for the page with all the links.

Welsh Choirs

Wales is more than just the castles on this blog. In early days, miners traditionally formed men's choirs that sang a capella - without instrumental background - and here is a fun site with some gentlemen on a mountaintop, singing with their camel - go to If that does not bring it up, do a search for Welsh men's choirs, and look for the one with the camel.

See dozens of websites for choirs at A choir that has been very successful in competitions is the Pontarddulais Male Choir - see Competitions are known as eisteddfods. See the Haverfordwest site at Around Philadelphia are many Welsh place names - Narberth, Haverford.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The leek - and other answers to Wales FAQ's

Take a leek, some lamb, turnips, potatoes, flour, carrots and call it cawl. Go to The leek is the national symbol for Wales. See More on how you cook a leek:

Wales is big on interesting facts. The patron saint of Wales is St. David and he was a vegetarian. See
Edward I of England conducted the campaigns against the Welsh, building many castles. See details at

The Welsh flag motif is the red dragon. See its flag at; and at Click on y dDraig gogh (the red dragon) for its full story. The language alone is magical. A dragon denoted a Roman cohort, or 1/10 of a legion. From that, the color changed with the differing groups using the standard, and today there is no dragon representing Wales on the Union Jack. The Prince of Wales, following Edward I's conquest, had lions rather than a dragon - read the full tale at
You could do a country's history based on its coins or its flags.

And St. Patrick may have been born in Wales. See

See more at

More blogs about Wales Road Ways.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Conwy Castle - City Center

Conwy: Old turrets and a modern big suspension bridge right next. There is a busy motorway across the river, leading to the town and this large castle. See

The castle is a fine morning's explore.

The town is walled, and our rooms were right in those walls, connected. Our B&B backed right into the old wall itself. Here is the view from our room. You can climb up the stairs to battlements and walk around the walls, looking down on all the other houses that are still occupied and sharing walls, like in the old days. See

Edward I began a series of huge castles in the late 13th century, to subdue the Welsh who wanted to control their own territory. Surprise. They had succeeded in doing this despite the English, who had divided up the land among several English barons. When Edward finally prevailed, with the help of his many castles, his son became Prince of Wales. See

The castle is on the water. The top picture shows the bridge with all the traffic, blocking the beautiful view, although there are efforts to minimize the eyesore. This picture is from the other side, looking back. The castle dominates the town still.

Beware the water monster. See