It was April 15th, and I was just in my lunchbreak when my phone sent me a notification about a messaging attempt. Naturally I opened it up:
I was very excited when I learned that message number 120 was found. This message was part of my Summer Dispatch 2019 on the West Coast. Is is, as of yet, the longest time between a message being dispatched and me being notified.
Looking up the locations, you can see that Chester is in the North of England (just north of the Midlands), close to the Border with Wales, and the Bottle was found on a Welsh beach. The bottle travelled mostly in a straight line, however, did overcome some substantial curves, too:
Measuring gives a distance of a little bit more than 35km. It could have and probably did travel several times back and forth with the tides, though, so how many kilometers it spent floating is not so clear. The sparse information I had seemed to indicate that the contents were rather readable, and so I already suspected it might have been found a good amount of time before they notified me. And indeed it turned out the bottle was already found in November 2019, so about 3 months after I dropped it in.
The reason why I didn’t hear before was, that they didn’t open it. It was an elderly couple who discovered the message and thought it must be very old and didn’t dare open the bottle, lest they destroyed it. Their daughter then opened it for them and notified me. – I was offered the return of the bottle to the waters.
I know that this offer is well intentioned. I get it often, and I always read a certain disappointment from it. I might be wrong with that, but it seems to me that people would only offer to put it in again if they think the bottle’s journey is not complete yet. From which I read that they think either someone else might appreciate it more than they did, or in this case, that it should have travelled for longer, that it is rather disappointing to find a message that’s merely weeks old.
I am never disappointed by a found bottle, even if it is found only minutes later. A bottle found is a bottle found. It’s not my intention to have to travel a certain time or distance – although of course, any records are always interesting 🙂
I didn’t learn more from the finding itself. But I hope they enjoyed it despite it being younger than they hope or expected. Like always after a find, I show you the contents, too:
As you can see, the bottle contains two rolled up pieces of paper. One contains my letter, in which I talk about the project and how to contact me. The other had a very short story:
The Thief They were sitting on a bench in front of the small shop, watching the workmen who would be taking out the large display windows, bricking them half way up, putting in smaller ones. “It’s sad to see your old shop torn down. It bears so many memories.” she said. He nodded, buried in his own thoughts. “The place we met, and where I habitually stole from you.” “You did? But we met in Uni.” “I came in every Thursday, looking at the magazines, casting hidden glances at you, purchasing nothing. And on the way out, I took a lollipop with me, sat down on this very bench and licked it. I dreamed of you coming out one day, sitting down beside me, and telling me it was o.k.. In my fantasy you would say that, as you loved me, I could take as many and as often as I wanted.” She laughed, the way you do when you just told a heartfelt secret. “Huh,” he answered, paying his shop more attention than her, while one of the workmen threw the first hefty blow against one of windows, the one with a large crack. “I used to offer the lollies to small kids that came in with their mothers, I never even noticed some went missing.”