Many of us have, at one time or other, put a message in a bottle and cast it out to sea in the hope of it being found by a far-away stranger – only to never think about it again.
So when three schoolchildren launched their messages in three bottles during a holiday on the Yorkshire coast two years ago, as far as they were concerned, that was the end of that.
Except they have just received a reply!
Lilly-May Tingle and siblings Eden and Tommy Shearman wrote their three missives on a trip to Bridlington on May 22, 2011, but were astounded to receive an email back from 12-year-old Gabriel Fabian, three weeks ago.
The Czech schoolboy found one of the bottles while holidaying in Denmark but spent two years learning English so he could write them a proper response.
He wrote: "Two years ago I was on a holiday in Denmark. Me and my mum were cleaning the beach. There was a lot of trash but then we found a bottle with your message inside.
"I couldn't speak English, so I couldn't answer you. Later I started to study in an international school and now my English is okay.
"We have found the bottle near Blokhus, Jammerbugten. I have a little sister called Annika and she is three-years-old.
"I would like to throw a message in a bottle too. There are cliffs nearby, but I think the wind would just push it into Denmark.
"Maybe we could stay in touch? I really like London and whole of England. Once I was on a school trip to England and I really liked it."
Eden and Tommy's aunt, Deborah Pickles, said she was amazed that they eventually got a reply and that Eden planned to keep in touch with Gabriel.
"We were all completely astounded," she said.
"My husband, Andrew, and I only came up with the idea as a way of keeping the kids occupied for the afternoon, and when two years passed, we thought nothing was going to come of it. He sent such a lovely email too.
"Eden is going to write to him. There are no plans for visits as yet, but who knows?"
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