The Value of Wales by Paul Lyalls

Its chief contribution to the UK
must be as a unit of measurement,
as night after night
a news desk declares
‘An area of Rainforest,
the size of Wales disappears every year’.
0r, ‘The amount of water
London loses through its creaking Victorian pipes
would fill a swimming pool
the size of Wales’.
Every part of the world has a similar unit of measurement:
in the United States it’s an area the size of New Jersey;
on mainland Europe the reference more often than not
is Slovenia – which appropriately happens to be
98.4 percent the size of Wales.
But just how accurate is Wales
as a unit of measurement?
Just how constant is that land-mass?
It’s worth remembering that at low tide
Wales measures 20,761 SQ KM.
Whereas at high tide, it’s only 20,449 SQ KM
and to really put it into context,
each year coastal erosion erodes an area of Wales
the size of Central Swansea.
For those of you in Europe trying to visualise this,
that’s the equivalent of an area the size of down-town Ljubljana.



In 2008 Paul was poet for the London borough of Brent and he performed at the new Wembley Stadium. He has two poems in the new Penguin A-Z of children’s poetry. ‘The Value of Wales’ is taken from his new collection Catching the Cascade. (

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