In 1951, a 19-year-old working at an egg plant in rural Iowa wrote her name and address in pencil on a few of the eggs she was packing, with the words: "Whoever gets this egg, please write [to] me." She hoped they'd be sold in New York, and that she'd get a pen pal in the city. When no letter came, she figured the plan had failed. The story, however, became part of family lore – and last month, it finally had a fitting ending when a cousin saw a Facebook post about an egg with Mary Foss Starn's name on it. It turned out that an artist in New York had bought the egg in 1951. Charmed by it, he had held onto it for years, before passing it to a friend, John Amalfitano. In August, Amalfitano was looking for something amusing to post online – and thought of the egg. Days later, he was put in touch with Mary, now 92. "I finally have my pen pal," she said, "and it only took 72 years."
New wetland created on Exmoor
A seven-hectare wetland has been created on Exmoor, in an example of a river restoration technique called "Stage Zero". The project involved filling in a 1.2km stretch of the River Aller with 4,000 tonnes of soil, and letting the water run freely. A once well-drained field is now a marshy bog, which has been planted with 25,000 saplings and 250kg of wildflower seeds and littered with dead wood. Already, it is teeming with insects and attracting bats, swallows and other wildlife.
Musician gets 'priceless' viola back
An acclaimed viola player has been reunited with his "priceless" instrument three years after it was stolen in Brussels, thanks to a Moroccan musician who'd spotted it for sale in Marrakech. Neil Leiter, 42, had given up hope of finding his 1934 viola when he got a message from Jaafar Squalli Houssaini, 26, saying he'd seen it on sale for €650. Leiter wired him the money, and Houssaini made the deal. Leiter then flew to Morocco and spent three evenings playing with Houssaini – to whom, he said, he is "forever indebted".
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