The photo above was taken one and a half years ago, 11th October 2018, near a nature reserve in Sheffield. And the two bottles were dropped into the river Don. Since then I dispatched a bunch of other bottles. I even went to Sheffield again just a month ago, albeit didn’t manage to prepare bottles ahead and thus no new bottles were put into the Sheaf or Don. The failure to do so only partly stems from a lack of time. In part it was because I had given up on English rivers…
When I returned from Sheffield, the new corona virus already dominated the news. My children both count as vulnerable, and we decided to try our best to shield them (which is a little more restrictive than lock-down). And my head was mostly wrapped around home-schooling and fears of what this virus will bring.
And then, last week, an email reached my inbox:
[…] we have found your bottle, no. 103. It washed up in a spring tide last week, well I found it on Friday, clearing up the grass on the riverbank where the spring tide recently deposited reeds, rubbish and drift wood. I collected 2 black sacks of rubbish, 2 black sacks of plastic to recycle and your bottle! It was truly amazing to find and we had to dry it out first, because a little water had got in. The miniature book was incredible, we dried it out with bits of baking paper in between each page to stop them sticking together. We enjoyed looking though such incredible detail. It is undergoing some running repairs/cleaning, then we shall rebuild it and keep it on our mantelpiece. […]
It was so great to be woken from our isolation stupor and think of the world outside. How wonderful to be connected this way to strangers, when we have hardly seen anyone in the past weeks! A back and forth of emails started right away.
The finder apparently was really gentle with the tiny, soaked book, and managed to retrieve most, if not all pages.
By now it is all dried, and I received another photo of it on it’s current place on the mantle:
After more than a year who would have thought! And it made so many turns and went further down the river than I would have thought possible. Let me show you on a map…
The above is a map showing all the dispatches in Sheffield (the pointers on the lower left), and (in pink) the place where bottle No. 103 was found. Let me show this on a larger scale map for those who don’t know England so well:
The river Don is not that wide, and has a lot (a lot!) of locks and weirs, and makes many turns. I am so amazed that the bottle made it into the Ouse, I still hardly can believe it. In the map above I marked out a rough (smoothened out) path the Don makes. the line I drew there measures 78km. So not the bottle which travelled furthest along a river. Yet… let me blog up that map once again for you, to show you a stretch of Don rather close to Sheffield:
It’s just absolutely incredible to me, how it couldn’t have made it’s way through almost 80 km of path like that! Once it made it into the Ouse, it’s path was easier. The Ouse doesn’t exaclty feel like a river, more like a stretch of Ocean pressing in onto the land. It is subject to the tides a fair way into the land and definitely where the bottle was found. It is wide, and has sandy shores.
Well, thank you so much for contacting me about the finding of this bottle. It meant so much to me. While I was locked in a mental bubble that consisted of improvised home schooling and turning our lawn into something that might feed us in the coming year, and a very real bubble that came from our quarantine (M. had a fever that turned out to be something different) morphing right into lock-down and shielding of our kids (see above), this was a welcome reminder that the world out there still exists and is full of interesting people we still can connect with.