Message in a bottle

A six-year-old girl in Antrim found a letter in a bottle which had drifted 2,089 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from Newfoundland, Canada.

Sophie Scott was out walking with her father on the beach when she found the message from her new Canadian pen pal, Hayley Hoyles, who, amazingly, is also six-years-old.

"I thought I saw a wee plastic bag inside, then I saw there was a letter in it," she said.

The letter from Hayley had been written in Canada in January. It read "Hi, my name is Hayley Hoyles. I live in Newfoundland, Canada. I have one brother. His name is Matthew. He is ten-years-old. I have a cat named Seamus and a dog called Sandy."

Sophie had her first conversation with her pen pal on BBC Radio Ulster a day later.

Hayley's mother, Judy, told the interviewer "Hayley's dad works at an oil field, and when he went out to sea two and a half years ago, he began throwing out messages for his children.

"Matthew was receiving replies from France, Spain and Ireland but Hayley wasn't getting any, so he said he'd just throw out messages for her.

"She has now received two replies, both from Ireland."

As the BBC report put it, in the time of instant communication a message in a bottle could have created a long-distance friendship.