is there anything that quite matches the delightful surprise of an unexpected parcel received through the post?
I received two such parcels on successive days this week: both from friends in Australia.
My first thought on receiving the earlier of the two was how pleased Trollope would have been that the international postal service he helped to establish was still functioning today. Indeed, over this distance it is hugely quicker than in his time. He travelled out with the mail to Australia on the SS Great Britain; a voyage lasting more than 50 days. This parcel, I saw from the postmark, had made the reverse journey from Queensland in a bare week.
Sadly, somewhere en route around the globe, somebody had made a careful incision in the edge of the small package and extracted the memory stick my friend had so thoughtfully posted to me, thereby depriving me of the hundreds of articles and items relating to Trollope that my friend had collected and wished to share.
I cannot begin to express my disappointment at this let down.
I also cannot help but imagine the wrath that Mr Trollope would have felt that some person in the chain to whom the parcel had been entrusted for conveyance around the world had abused that trust in such a way.
It was therefore with delight that I received a second parcel from another Australian friend the following day. Intact this time.
In it was a small personal gift which touched me greatly. It was a book from her father’s collection, clearly kept and treasured for many years.
The book was about Simpson and his donkeys, recounting the story of the medic at the ANZAC battle for Gallipoli in the first world war, who saved so many of his fellow countrymen who had been wounded using a donkey to carry them to safety.
Sadly Simpson was himself killed but the story of his courage and the stoicism of the donkeys under fire has been inspirational to generations of children of those ANZACs ever since.
The choice of book was doubly appropriate because I look after four donkeys which were rescued from conditions of over-crowding and what can best be described as benign neglect on a Welsh farm where the owner was clearly overwhelmed by the needs of more donkeys than she could cope with.
So I want to record my thanks to both my friends for their kindness in sending me these surprise gifts. I look forward to reading the book and hope that an alternative means may be found for me to get to read the articles filched en route.