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1. Native or inhabitant of Afghanistan.
2. Knitted and sewn woollen blanket or shawl; a quilt, a coarse rug
3. Tall breed of hunting dog with long silky hair, originating in Afghanistan

Any of these, sprawled or draped across the foot of the bed, could contribute to a warm and comfortable night. Any of these, paraded as a proud acquisition, could have the neighbours raising an eyebrow. But only one of them has so far come into the H&N household, and I'm very happy to say it is inanimate. Nothing (pending experience to the contrary) against swarthy tribesman or elegant beasts; but the handmade afghan we received from our e-friend Elisabeth is such a special gift.

Given her acuity, it is up against stiff competition: books long-lost or waiting to be discovered, well-chosen films, enviable tee-shirts are just some of the things to have made the Atlantic crossing so far and are not to be sneezed at. You can't deny, though, that an item someone has put time and skill into making is in a separate class.

No, we haven't yet worked out what we could possibly offer in return. But we'll try.