Notes on writing

Hello world

World map Gerard van Schagen

One of the simple pleasures of having your own website is seeing which countries in the world its visitors come from. My These Islands site reached its fifth birthday this year but it still amazes me to see the global reach of what is really a niche and personal project. I use WordPress for my site and the stats page give you a list of countries with a little flag beside each name, something which appeals deeply to the stamp-collecting aspect of my personality.

In those five years I’ve had visitors from every large and medium-sized nation in the world, barring a few in sub-Saharan Africa. But what gives me the biggest thrill is getting my first visitor from one of the smaller nations on the planet. This month I reached that landmark with the tiny Caribbean nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and with the Åland Islands, an autonomous region of Finland that I’m not entirely sure I’d heard of before.

Unfortunately, the WordPress stats don’t tell me which posts those visitors viewed, something I’d be interested to know. Leaving aside the possibility (almost unthinkable!) that whoever it was came via some random Google search and clicked away as soon as they realized which undesirable rabbit hole they’d fallen down, I’d like to think that they came because there was some place or event in Britain they wanted to read about.

Most of the site’s views come from the main Anglophone countries and from the bigger European nations. I have no conception of a typical reader when it comes to those places — there are too many of them. But when it comes to a single visitor from a small nation, I can muse on who it might be. So I have the notion that my visitor from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines might be a retired female schoolteacher with an interest in the legends of Glastonbury. And my visitor from the Åland Islands might be a young man with a love for the Beatles who wanted know more about the crazy days of Apple Corps. That’s how I imagine them anyway.

One random thought occurred to me when I was looking at the list of countries for this month. The flag of Cyprus has an image of the island itself at its centre. Is this the only national selfie on a flag?

[Image of world map by Gerard van Schagen courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.]