German Summer Dispatches Part II: Koblenz and Bonn

Like every year, we did a trip to see family in Germany at the end of August. This year, like so many before, I took a selection of bottles with me. On part I I told you of the dispatches from the Hull ferry and the dispatch of one bottle into the almost empty river Ems. The next stop on our tour brought us to a bigger stream: the river Rhine which has carried quite a lot of my bottles. Before this summer, I have (at different locations) trusted it with 20 bottles of which six were found. This summer I put another 7 into its arms. We’ll see…

August 23rd

Deutsches Eck, the point where the river Mosel feeds into the river Rhine, seen from the cliffs on the other river bank, taken from one of the cabins of the cable tram

On the 23rd (Friday) we made a day trip to Koblenz which is located where the Mosel joins the river Rhine. There’s a aerial cable tramway going across the river to allow easy access to castle Ehrenbreitstein. We had a great day, riding the cable tram and seeing the castle. And to finish the day of I went with the kiddos to dispatch from bottles into the river Rhine, right from that joining point there.

from left to right these are bottles numbered 113, 116, and 117 getting ready for their release

and that’s me getting ready

Right after throwing the bottles in, a cruise ship approached. I stood and watched: would its bow wave catapult the bottles onto the concrete rwalls? Throw it off course? Or transport it further into the middle of the stream?

The boat and my bottle (marked a little thinly, slightly to the centre left of the photo

the bottle and the boat, zoomed in for more drama

In the photos I now could make out just the one bottle, but there were all three visible to us while we were standing there. The one that is in the pictures is the one that was swimming furthest ahead, I believe. The ship passed behind the bottle when it drove past first. It didn’t seem to impact too much on the bottle’s path, just rocked it a little. But then it decided to turn, and I lost track of where the bottles were. I believe the ship must have gone over it. And it wasn’t your measly little boat either:

when I took the photo, I believed I could see the bottles bobbing alongside it – but now I can’t spot them anywhere

But I trust they survived this early ordeal, and I hope they’ll find their way downstream into the hands of happy finders.

August 28, Bonn

After another family visit, we then made our way to Cologne and then to Bonn at the river Rhine. This is where the project all started. The very first seven bottles were released in to the river Rhine from a ferry very close to the Kennedy Bridge from where I decided to put in the last couple of bottles I carried with me.

From left to right these are bottles numbers 119, 121, 112, and 114 waiting for their dispatch

Once again the kids were very eager to help. And so they took turns throwing in my messages in bottles.





I am looking forward to the day when they start asking about making their own bottle. But for now, I just shall be waiting for messages from finders of these ones. – Travel well, my bottles!

German Summer Dispatches Part I: The Ferry and Telgte

Like every year, we did a trip to see family in Germany at the end of August. This year, like so many before, I took a selection of bottles with me:

August 19th North Sea

My bottle number 107 and Peter’s “Do not Open!” looking out of our cabin’s window to watch the English coast go by

On Monday August 19th we boarded the “Pride of Rotterdam”, the ferry that goes between Kingston upon Hull in England to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. In my luggage I brought 9 of my own little bottles, and one of Peter’s.

Our schedule on the ferry is pretty much the same every time we go: We arrive at between 5 and 6 on the ship and “move in” to our cabin. The kids are given a chance to explore the ship (every time delighted that it hasn’t changed from last time). Then we eat dinner on board. If they feel like it, the twins can watch some of the entertainment program targeted at kids. And then, because we are all sleeping in the one cabin, all go to bed at 8.

What sounds awfully early from an adult perspective usually suits me quite well. We have to get up at 6 o’clock local time (i.e. 5 o’clock English time) for our breakfast the next day, so getting to bed early is a good idea anyway. And after several weeks of summer holidays and a day of packing, I am usually tired enough to fall to sleep immediately. The ship, however, doesn’t leave the harbour before 8.30 pm; something I often notice vaguely on the brink of sleep.

ferry route from Hull to Rotterdam

This time, I decided, I’d stay awake a little longer, and put the bottles into the North Sea. Since Peter’s bottle made its way from Germany to me, it made sense to put it in closer to the English coast.

So when Matthias and the kids all slipped into their beds I packed a book, the bottles, and a camera and headed out to find a place where I could wait. As you might imagine, the “board entertainment” was in full swing by then. Music and shows everywhere I went, and I found it hard to concentrate on my book. – And I got more tired by the minute.

last glimpse at the bottles before letting them go

I managed to hold out until shortly after 9. At least the ship was moving. The coast was still visible, but maybe we’d be lucky, I figured.
It was already dark, and taking photos was difficult. I thought had taken more images, but when I returned inside (without the bottles) it turned out I only had the one on the left. – Sorry!

Asking the ever wise internet, I read:

On Monday, 19th of August of 2019, the sun rose in Hull at 5:47 h and sunset was at 20:21 h. In the high tide and low tide chart, we can see that the first low tide was at 3:23 h and the next low tide at 15:48 h. The first high tide was at 9:04 h and the next high tide at 21:40 h.

We had 14 hours and 34 minutes of sun. The solar transit was at 13:04 h.

So apparently the water was still rushing toward the coast when I threw the two bottles overboard at about 9:10 pm. So far I have not heard anything from them. I hope their happy finders wait for them!

August 21st Telgte, Ems

Cardinal von Galen Platz, the plaza in front of the Clemens Church in Telgte

I have already dispatched a couple of bottles in Telgte, the famous little town near M├╝nster in Westfalia. It has a proud past and a couple of proud buildings in its neat little old town centre. Apparentlz in recent years there has been a noticable rise in tourism there, and I was surprised to find the old market square lively and full of people in restaurants and outside seating areas.

I went to the river in the morning of the 21st (Wednesday). In the photo above you can see the plaza in front of Clemens Church, the big church where the mass related to the pilgrimage is held (although the goal of the processions is the chapel just beside it, and not visible in the photo). Just behind the cars you might be able to guess at a foot bridge across the Ems.

Bridge across the Ems

This is the bridge. At this location the Ems splits into two branches with a large island in the middle from where I put in my bottle – like I did on previous occasions.

See that little plaza there? Just imagine me standing there right in the corner to throw in the bottle. I compiled a little map for you to scroll in and out if you wish to have an idea where this is:

non-flowing river

I don’t remember seeing the river quite as empty. The weir was shut, and the river was not actually flowing (much). Just compare that to the images I took in 2014.

Well, one last look at the bottle, and then it went in. I figured, if it gets found right there, nothing is lost. If it stays there for a couple of weeks until it goes on – it doesn’t matter either.

That mentioned, it has to be said that I was not lucky with any bottles I left there. Over the years I put in 6 bottles, and never heard back from a single one.

there the bottle floats, right on top of a sunken bike

Looking downstream: the river is beautiful here, the shores overgrown and almost inaccessible. The best chance to find the bottle is probably from one of the paddling boats that can be seen quite often here

The view above is from that footbridge mentioned above, and when you look the other way…
This is one of Christel Lechner’s Alltagsmenschen (everyday people), part of an art installation. I must admit that I briefly startled when I saw it from the corner of my eye.

I returned tot he river by night. The photo was taken from the other shore, looking upon the dispatch location. It was too dark to actually spot the bottle, I suppose. In any case I couldn’t see it. The place from where I took this photo, by the way, would usually be on the river bed.


West Coast / Irish Sea Dispatches Part 3 – North Wales, Llandudno and Rhos-On-Sea

Llandudno Pier

After having dispatched bottles in Chester on Thursday and Liverpool on Friday, it was time for North Wales on Saturday. At the Breakfast table we had still not quite decided where to go. But it was clear that we’d take the A55, and we’d decide on the spot whether to stop in Colwyn Bay or drive on to Llandudno. And since both kids were still patient when we came close to the first, we made it to the latter.

As you can see in the photo above, the beach close to the pier is of sand. Much of the beaches in North Wales are pebbles, and I suppose that there is some sand there, is what makes Llandudno attrative as a seaside resort. This is what a town looks like, when the Victorians think it makes a good Holiday destination:

Llandudno beach as seen from pier

As you can see now, only part of it is sand, the other half is the more characteristic pebbles. I found the non-existing transition between the two startling, and wonder how natural this beach is. However, the co-existence of both is natural in the area between Colwyn Bay and Llandudno.

As you can also guess from the photo, the weather wasn’t brilliant. We spent a bit of time at the beach and in the sand, went for lunch in one of the thousands of pizza-places and then went back to the pier to drop in the bottles. At that time, the skies looked rather threatening:

rain moving in

Well, and so we made this quick. I had been thinking of booking us on a boat ride around the bay, and drop the bottles from there. But the kids were cold, and none of them wanted to go onto the noisy (if you ask me rather exciting) motor boat ride.
High tide was on that day at 13:13, and it was now 13:50 – perfect timing. I simply went to the head of the pier that to drop them off. Below you see a picture of that pier pulled off Wikipedia:

By Gary Beale – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

On the very front was a small plattform reserved for fishing. After brief deliberation I decided against it, and threw in the bottles from the visitor’s part. These are the bottles I brought:

Llandudno bottles just before their dispatch

The two big ones made by peter, the two little ones made by me. They are a little hard to make out here. The smaller one of Peter’s bottles displayes a clearly readable “Do Not Read. Do Not Open” ­čÖé The big one with its characteristic red paint should be clearly visible. Mine are the No. 115 “Underground Pool”, and No. 109 “Lone House”.

M. snapped me while throwing in the first bottle

Without much ado, I simply threw them in as far as I managed to and simply one after the other. Then I watched them float out of the bay.

Bottles starting to float away (just below the middle)

I hope you can make them out, floating there. The big red-striped bottle was the first I threw in. As you can see I got a bit more practise as I went. But then, the big one went into the lead:

The big red one catching up and overtaking my two small ones

On our way back to Ellesmere then, we decided to pull out in Collwyn Bay – which looked like nothing, just a long sand beach with no pier, and I didn’t want to drop in a bottle there, it seemed pointless. But we followed the promenade to Rhos-on-Sea, and while there was not really good opportunity there either, I figured I take my chances and left one other bottle:

Bottle dispatched in Rhos-on-Sea

As you can maybe see in the photo the was in a small little harbour. In the next photo maybe you can see it swimming near the stones:

Rhos-bottle floating

As always, I wish all those bottles save travels and pleased and excited finders. – As I am so slow with updating this blog, already two of those 13 west-coast bottles have already been found. More in the next post.

West Coast/Irish Sea Dispatches Part I – Chester

Old Dee Bridge, Chester

Last weekend I made a trip to the West Coast of Great Britain to dispatch the first batch of bottles into the Irish Sea. As you may know, I made a good bunch of bottles over the last weeks and months, and it was time to get them wet. I also met with people in Nottingham to make bottles, and two German writers of messages in bottles sent me messages of their own. – So a very good reason to take the family on a short trip.

On August 1st we stopped in Chester on the way. Chester is one of the really old cities in England, going back to the Roman fort “castrum deva victrix” 79 AD. It is built on the banks of the river Dee. Around Chester it takes some tight turns, and then runs pretty much straight into its estuary. The river is subject to the tides there, and I made sure to drop my bottles in at fairly high tide, but after the highest rise.

Chester Bottles

The next decision to take was, which bottles to throw in. The photo above shows my choice:

The first bottle to hit the waters was one of mine: A Gaivani bottle with a letter written during the workshop, and one of my very short stories inside.

First bottle about to be thrown in.

The twins were more than happy to help with the dispatch.

The second bottle to go in, was also one of mine, the oldest of all of them, one of the first with paper mache houses:

one last look on the second chester bottle

Then it was my daughter’s turn. Next she dropped in one of the bottles made on the workshop by one of the participants. She was so excited, it was hard to get a last photo before it dropped in:

And last but not least, she put in another bottle for me, one that also has one of my stories (a different one) inside:

We saw all of them float downstream, and of course we wish all four of them a safe travel and happy finders!

In total I put 13 bottles into or close to the Irish Sea, these were just the first four. I’ll show you more in the next blogpost.


Abwurf und Fund in der Ostsee / Dispatch and Landing in the Baltic Sea

Wolf Schindler an Bord der Rollo (1)

I am going to tell you today about the dispatch of three bottles and the immediate finding of one of them. Because all the protagonists are German, I am going to write in German with English translations in between.

Wie der Titel schon sagt, will ich heute von einem Abwurf (und auch gleich einem Fund) in der Ostsee erz├Ąhlen. – Mal wieder auf deutsch, weil alle Protagonisten Deutsche sind. Aber nun der Reihe nach:

Am 16.6. habe ich hier 10 meiner neuen Fl├Ąschchen vorgestellt (in der Zwischenzeit sind noch welche dazu gekommen, aber davon ein andermal). Nur einen Tag sp├Ąter, schrieb mir mein Online-Freund und Flaschenpostkumpane Peter Stein aka James Ismael Kuck, ob ich ihm nicht eine oder mehrere der Fl├Ąschchen f├╝r einen Abwurf in der Ostsee schicken wolle.

On June 16th I wrote a blogpost here, showing off my newest bottles. Just a day later, a fellow German writer of messages in bottles, Peter Stein, contacted me and asked, whether I might be interested in three of the bottles being dispatched in the Baltic sea.

It just so happened that he was about to meet another creator of messages in bottles, the German artist Wolf Schindler, who was going to go on a sailing boat trip, and he was going to carry and dispatch several bottles – and maybe he could also drop in mine. — Of course I was only too happy to send over three of them:

my bottles Numbered 106, 110, 111 on board the Rollo (1)

Und zwar hatte er vor, sich mit Wolf Schindler zu treffen, einem K├╝nstler (Malerei, ├╝berwiegend Acryl auf Leinwand, wenn ich das richtig sehe) aus Weilheim in Oberbayern, weit weg vom Meer. Aber trotzdem ist er ist auch Segler und Flaschenpostler: im Jahr 2000 startete er ein Flaschenpostprojekt, f├╝r das ├╝ber 5 Jahre insgesamt 50 Flaschen abgeworfen wurden. Aber wie so viele, die einmal damit beginnen, scheinen ihn die Flaschenposten nicht mehr loszulassen. Auf seinen T├Ârn Anfang Juli in der Ostsee (Start Kiel), hatte er nat├╝rlich auch Flaschenposten dabei. Na, und wenn man sich schon trifft, unter Flaschenpostlern, dann tauscht man auch gerne mal ein oder zwei Flaschen aus, und so hatte Peter f├╝r sein Treffen mit Wolf seinerseits was vorbereitet. So nun also die Frage an mich, ob ich nicht Peter was schicken wolle, das er dann mit zu Wolf bringen w├╝rde, und er w├╝rde sie dann, mit der Crew der Rollo (der Name des Schiffes, interessante Geschichte, die ihr hier nachlesen k├Ânnt) dann abwerfen.

all bottles together: the there small ones are mine, the two medium bottles were filled by Peter, and the three tall ones with red marking are Wolf’s (1)

Da konnte ich nat├╝rlich nicht “Nein” sagen, und habe gleich drei meiner Fl├Ąschchen auf den Weg gebracht. Am 26. Juni erhielt ich Nachricht von Peter, dass sie ihren Postweg heile ├╝berstanden haben.

On June 26th Peter contacted me to let me know that he received the bottles well. On the first of July they were handed over to the crew of the Rollo in Kiel:

Crew der Rollo (2)

Am 1. Juli dann wurden sie in Kiel der Crew der Rollo ├╝bergeben.

Am 5. Juli erhielt ich dann eine Nachricht per Email:

Hallo Hilke!

I found your bottle today at the ÔÇ×OstseeÔÇť in Gro├čenbrode nearby Island
The bottle was lying on the Beach!
In the Night was strong North West Wind!

VG, der Finder

Seit dem habe ich nach und nach die Reise der Flasche zusammengebastelt. Weiterer Email-austausch mit dem Finder ergab, dass es sich um Flasche Nr. 111 handelte, die mit dem einzelnen Haus.

Am 12. 7., nachdem Wolf wieder zu Hause war, habe ich von ihm einen “Logbuch-Ausschnitt” zugeschickt bekommen, aus dem hervorgeht, dass die Flasche am 1.7. abgeworfen wurde. Seine Notizen sind ziemlich genau:

auf der Fahrt von KIEL-HOLTENAU nach ECKERNF├ľRDE, Einf. Eckernf.- 
Bucht; 18.30 Uhr, Pos. 54┬░29┬┤N 10┬░01┬┤E, Wind 5 aus West, B├Âen 6-7, 
Wolken, Schauer

Das heisst, die Flasche war etwa 4 Tage unterwegs, und hat in der Zeit gesch├Ątzt knapp 70km zur├╝ckgelegt. Ich hab’ mir (von Peter) sagen lassen, dass das f├╝r die Ostsee ein ordentliches Tempo ist – aber anscheinend war ja auch ein ganz sch├Ânes Wetterchen!

contents of bottle No. 111 – obviously before sealing the bottle

On 5th of July, before I heard from Wolf when and where my bottles were dispatched, I received message of a finder, who had picked up my bottle No. 111 (the contents shown above) at a beach near Gro├čenbrode in Germany, on the continental land near the island Fehmarn.

On the 12th of July Wolf Schindler sent me the log entries that contain the dispatches of my bottles, and from that it follows that it travelled a little short of 70km in 4 days, which isn’t bad for the Baltic sea.

I wish all the other bottles kind finders and safe travels!

Nun hoffe ich auf weitere Fundmeldungen sowohl von meinen, als auch von ihren Schwesterflaschen!

Flasche Nr. 106 (3 H├Ąuser) am 2.7. auf der Fahrt von Eckernf├Ârde nach Marstal, N├Ąhe Damp abgeworfen.

Flasche Nr. 110 (Picknick) wurde am 5.7. auf der Fahrt von Faborg nach Sonderborg abgeworfen.Gute Fahrt, alles Flaschenposten!

the message, tied to the base onto which the little house is then mounted

Ein herzliches Dankesch├Ân an Peter S. und Wolf Schindler, f├╝r die Erlaubnis, eure Bilder zu benutzen. (1 Bildrechte Peter S., 2 Bildrechte Wolf Schindler)

Many thanks to Peter S. and Wolf Schindler for allowing me to use their photos. (1 copyright Peter S., 2 copyright Wolf Schindler)

Sheffield Drop Offs – Part 3

As you probably know by now I spent last week in Sheffield, mainly to work on my writing, but also with the aim to drop off a couple of bottles.

I wrote about my preparation in a first part here. There I showed you the four bottles I prepared, the four bottles that Peter sent me to dispatch for him, and I also mentioned that I packed two empty bottles for possible by-standers to fill.

In the second part I spoke about arriving in Sheffield and discovering that the Don where I put my bottles is full of little islands, had little water and current and in addition a lot of weirs. I dropped in both bottles nonetheless, and was able to observe Peter’s bottle getting stuck pretty much immediately, so probably now you want to know what happened next with it.

Peter’s Bottle No. 100

On the top of the blog you can see how I left Peter’s No. 100 behind on Tuesday the 9th. The place was just a 10 minute walk from my hotel, so the plan was of course to check the next day whether it was still there.

I was extremely lucky with the weather: The 10th was sunny and warm and felt more like a September than like an October day. When I came to the place at around noon, I was first pleased to see that the bottle was gone and apparently had moved on:

Sheffield 14

Nothing to see – Yay!

The whole board against which the bottle was resting moved a few meters along the river (I think that old christmas tree in there remained stationary, so you can compare with that), and in the process it obviously gave the bottle free.
I continued to walk along the river (I had more bottles to dispatch after all, but more about that later) and spotted the bottle again, only 20 or 30m further downstream.

I believe you can click on the images to see them in enlarged (I hope so), in the second image I placed arrows where the bottle got stuck on the first and the second day. Of course I had to check again on my way back. The bottle had made a few more meters further downstream where it rested again with some other junk but still above the foot bridge located there.

The forecast for the next day (11th) predicted a day with showers moving through. I woke up to skies that looked somewhat threatening, and so I started early while it was still dry. The wind was blowing in gusts, but no rain. I first walked to the spot I last saw Peter’s bottle. It had moved again a couple of meters. I could see it moving very slowly, and then getting stuck once more between some floating grass and other plant material.
In the photo below just a little upstream of this cut through in the wall, that’s where I last spotted it. (The photo was taken a day earlier for the stone under the bridge, but that’s a story of its own. Anyway, that’s why the bottle can’t be seen in the photo.)

Sheffield 17
As I said, that was the last time I saw it. I went to look for it again the same day, just a couple of hours later, and I was unable to see it anywhere. Which is somewhat of a mystery to me: Given the slow manner with which it was moving I can’t understand how it could have disappeared out of sight in just a few hours. The river downstream from there looked like it had fewer hurdles, but still, it was moving at no more than half a meter per second so how far could it go? It was floating on the right hand bank which has a tall wall as its border… But who knows, maybe someone has found it already. – I hope we’ll hear from it again.

 Other drop ins

This blog post is again getting very long, and I’ll try to cut me short. As mentioned before, the weather on the 10th was wonderful, and I walked slowly down the Don, putting in two bottles from the spider bridge,┬á visible in the photo above if you know what to look out for, and then I sat down and filled one of the empty bottles I brought with me. I had not arranged any meet-up, no-one I saw on my hike seemed interested, and so I just ripped a few pages from my notebook and filled them with a message on the spot. I didn’t give this bottle a number, as I don’t really regard it as part of this project. Well, maybe a little.
Below are photos taken on the 10th. If you click on them, you’ll be able to read some further comments on them if you like.

The next day, the 11th, I went out in the morning to first look for Peter’s bottle and while doing so, I spotted the entrance to Victoria Quays. So I decided to take a walk along the canal for a change. Because I had already spent the better of the day before hiking along the river I cut my visit relatively short and dropped my bottle just behind the entrance to the Quays. I wasn’t sure how Peter would feel about his bottle being put in a non-flowing body of water, and besides: it smelled awfully beneath the bridge where I placed it. For a bottle containing miniature kidney bowls seemed fitting but┬á beautiful bottle like Peter’s? – That felt just wrong. And so I held on to that one for a while longer.

The weather stayed surprisingly nice and dry that day, and for unknown reasons I struggled to get any good work done sitting in my hotel room. And so I decided to walk to the Don once more in the afternoon. I probably should have walked upstream for a change. But I was too curious to see whether and which of the dropped off bottles I might spot. Because I didn’t feel like dropping a bottle from a bridge where I already had been, I walked further than before, right into a nature reserve that made it almost feel like I had left the city. There I dropped then my last bottle, the No. 103 into the Don, and Peter’s 102.

On my walk to there I spotted two of my bottles: the unnumbered one above the weir at Norfolk bridge where I dropped it in, and one of my small bottles below the weir. I am not sure which of the two it was as the sun was reflecting so much that it was hard to see what was inside, but looking at the photos now, I am pretty sure it was the 102 that I put in from spider bridge the day before.

While walking along the river, the canal and through the city I made many more pictures with little and big things I spotted, street art and loving little details, imagining showing them to you. But my report is taking way too much time and space already, and I don’t want to bore anyone. Many thanks for your interest, dear reader, who has read until here. I’ll just let that guy below that I spotted on one of my excursion wave you good bye.

Like always, I wish all my bottles a good and far travel and happy finders.┬á – Next up will be the dispatch of Peter’s bottle No. 103 from Trent Bridge in West Bridgeford. Stay Tuned!

sheffield 60

Sheffield: Part 2 – Day 1, Twice the No. 100

From 9th – 12th October I spent a couple of days in Sheffield. They were my personal writer’s retreat: I booked myself into a hotel and spent my days there to write. BUT of course I carried a couple of bottles to dispatch, too. I had a really good time, with walks along the river and canal, discovering little and big things on my excursions, with new ideas and trying marmite for the first time – and got a lot of writing done.

Unfortunately because I was writing anyway, I failed to write here on this blog while things were happening, which I now realise was a mistake: Packing everything I want to tell and show you into one big blogpost is just too much. So I decided to split it into three (or maybe it will turn out four) parts. You can find the first part here, in which I show you a bit behind the scenes bottle making.

Here’s a map of the dispatches, as some kind of preview for those who are just too curious just now (and also in case a bottle is being found already). You’ll notice that there are three kinds of markers in there: the blue ones are where I dropped off my bottles, the red ones are sightings, and the green ones are where I dropped off Peter’s bottles.

sheffield blog -1

Lady’s Bridge in Sheffield

Day 1 – Upper Don Walk

I arrived in Sheffield later than expected on Tuesday, due to a derailed train at Sheffield train station. I had planned to first visit the river and then check in, but now I decided to first go to the hotel. Which turned out to be a good decision since Sheffield is much more hilly than expected, and with that I mean steap streets, steep, – mountaineous! Well, maybe it wasn’t quite as bad, but the constant sloping makes walking with a pull along suitcase full of books and paper (I was there to write after all) a bit of a hassle. Wikipedia agrees that my feeling that Sheffield is exceptionally steep is justified:

Sheffield is a geographically diverse city. The city nestles in the eastern foothills of the Pennines, and a natural amphitheatre created by several hills and the confluence of five rivers: Don, Sheaf, Rivelin, Loxley and Porter. As such, much of the city is built on hillsides with views into the city centre or out to the countryside. Blake Street, in the S6 postcode area, is the third steepest residential street in England, with a gradient of 16.6┬░. The city’s lowest point is just 29 metres (95┬áft) above sea level near Blackburn Meadows, while some parts of the city are at over 500 metres (1,640┬áft); the highest point being 548 metres (1,798┬áft) at High Stones, near Margery Hill. However, 79% of the housing in the city is between 100 and 200 metres (330 and 660┬áft) above sea level.

Well, I arrived on a lovely sunny and warm autumn day, and right after checking in to my hotel, I packed my backpack with some bottles, and started to walk to find the river Don. When I came closer to Lady’s Bridge (the oldest bridge in Sheffield), I discovered this:

sheffield 12

Well, if that’s not inviting, then I don’t know what is. I went through the arch and immediately reached the Don:

sheffield day 1-1

When you look in the photo with the arch above, you’ll see that the path through the arch brought me onto a foot path along the river. From the entrance it looks like you could walk up or downstream, however the downstream path was blocked by a building next to Lady’s Bridge. The photo right above here shows the view looking left, upstream, onto the bridge from where I would shortly after dispatch my first bottle in Sheffield. Looking to the right revealed the sight of the Lady’s Bridge as you can see it in the photo further above.

I followed the path upstream and crossed the next bridge, the foot bridge you can see in the photo above, and then the walk continued on the other bank. Without much hesitation I decided to throw in my first botte, the 100th message in a bottle in this project:

dispatch no 100 kleiner

The view from the bridge, a last look at the bottle, and then the farewell

My bottle drew the attention of some ducks which, although they seemed disappointed that the object that had fallen from the bridge didn’t seem edible, swam around and with it. Lazily the bottle bobbed in the water and moved very slowly. It was easy to cross the bridge, and then follow it on the Upper Don Walk until I reached came closer to the Lady’s Bridge and had to walk around a building which meant I briefly lost sight of the bottle. Up on the bridge I expected to see it again. I wanted to check whether it made it down the weir. But the glaring sun and its many reflections on the water made it hard to spot the little bottle. I have a series of photos which I shot in the believe they had the bottle on it. But upon close inspection on my computer, it looks just like waves and leaves and stones.

sheffield day 1-2

Upstream view of the Don from Lady’s Bridge in Sheffield

I mentioned before, that I was carrying not only my 4 bottles to Nottingham, but also Peter‘s. And as fate would have it, his bottles carry the same serial numbers as mine did. So I had another No. 100 in my backpack that wanted to be set free.
According to his blogpost he had read up on the river Don and knew to expect weirs. I was blissfully unaware of them until I saw them. I had dropped in mine without hesitation, but seeing its slow trundle along the lazy river, and also because it was rather big, I figured I’d rather drop it in from lady’s bridge, below the weir.

But, upon crossing the street and looking down the bridge, I had to realise that there was a little island just behind the bridge, blocking the free flow of the river.

sheffield day 1-3

Lady’s Bridge from below the weir

I later learned, that these islands in the Don are due to the weirs. The rushing water washes up sediment, and with the water quality rising in the river, they are home to wildlife and are cherished and cared for.

Just downstream of Lady’s Bridge, the Upper Don Walk ends, and the Five Weir Walk starts. Ah, well, so there were more weirs to be expected.
From where I stood I could see the next bridge, and hoped to find a better place there to dispatch Peter’s centennial bottle. No such luck: Another island was waiting for it there. By that time, however, I was beginning to feel eager to return to me “real” work, and figured, I’d have more time tomorrow to explore more of the river, and after all, I had six more bottles to dispatch. So in it went. I took great care to find the best spot where the bottle would hopefully avoid the island. I watched it float downstream, happy that I seemed to have chosen well:

peters 100 kleiner

It went swiftly past the island, but then floated toward the right – and got stuck on a piece of driftwood. I watched it struggle for a while. The current and gusts of strong wind seemed to help it move on – almost. After a couple of minutes I gave up for the day, determined to come back the next day.


Four splashes in Skegness

Skegness Beach, trying to find a spot and moment where I wasn’t watched putting the bottles in

First of June is the birthday of my twins (who are at the beginning of the story of this whole project), and we went to Skegess with them for this weekend to celebrate their big day. Of course I also brought some bottles with me. Now, when you put a bottle into the sea from the shore, chances are it will return to the same shore (most likely the same beach) from where you put it in. But this was the only thing I could do this weekend, and some of the bottles have waited for a dispatch since October, so I figured, I’d just take my chances. And after all, if they get found soon, that also has its advantages: It is likely that the contents are undamaged, and they’ll hopefully make their finders happy, no matter how long they travelled.

Bottles No. 93 and No. 96 shortly before their dispatch at Skegness Central Beach at 2/6/2018

We reached Skegness central beach on Saturday 2/6 at about 4pm. It was a couple of minutes to low tide, and thus an especially bad time to put in a bottle. The beach was rather crowded considering that the weather was far from brilliant. It was foggy, but at least wasn’t raining, and there was a yellow alert of heavy rainfall in place. Thus I figured, I’d rather put them in now, than not being able to dispatch them at all. I chose bottle No. 93, one of those with a monoprint on them, and a more recent bottle, No. 96.

Lot of effort that got my trousers completely wet – but bottles went up too high, and landed maybe 5 meters away from me in the water

I am rather poor at throwing, and they just sat there for a long time.

I brought two more bottles with me to the coast, and I kept those two until the next morning. We went to the pier in the morning, and waited for it to be opened. It was 10 minutes after high tide when we went stairs and walked to the end. Maybe an hour later would have been a better time, current-wise. But the water was already retreating, and thus I figured that the chances for them to wash out of the Lincolnshire bay were positive.

Bottles No. 94 and 95 shortly before their dispatch from Skegness Pier on 3/6/18

I went with my son onto the pier, and he insisted on throwing in one bottle himself.

As you can see, he really just flatly dropped it, and while it did land in the water…

we watched it land while we were standing on the pier. So we went down, picked it up, and he gave it another go.

The other bottle which I put in, looked like a promising dispatch:

a close-up:

Right after returning from the pier (the second time) I found this:

Notts Rocks

On the backside of the pebble it said “FB Notts Rocks”. I looked it up in the meantime, and it is a community of people who decorate rocks and pebbles and leave them at places for others to find. – Wonderful, absolutely wonderful! It will have its own special spot in my studio! Thanks to whoever left it there for me!

That’s it from me from the Skegness dispatches. 3 of the 4 bottles were already found by the time I am typing this blogpost. I’ll speak more about the finds, and the bottles (with contents revealed) in the next days. So stay tuned!

Two new bottles and a dispatch into the River Thames

Chelsea Bridge 2

Chelsea Bridge in London, near Battersea Park, image via Wikipedia

I needed a new passport, which I need to apply for in person at the German embassy in London. This was the reason I spend a couple of days in London at the beginning of the week. Of course I wanted to dispatch a bottle into the River Thames.

chelsea bridge

Bottles No. 86 and 87 waiting for the dispatch

Now I didn’t have any filled bottles left here. You noticed that it got a bit quieter here in the last months, and that has a couple of reasons. For one I was really busy with other stuff. But also I am a bit frustrated with bottles put into the River Trent (I lived at the shores of the River Rhine before, and that was great for dispatching bottles). So I had to come up with new bottles on the eve of leaving. I made a couple of small prints in the last weeks, and thus wrote a little for a bottle, wound up a print (Nightlion, small), and then had to realise that it was too big for the small bottle. So I put it into a larger bottle, which I already colleted for when I run out of small ones (which honestly doesn’t seem likely to happen soon with the current rate of production). And then, because I really would rather stick to small bottles for now, I filled another bottle with two prints from my women with hats series of prints.

On Tuesday we visited Battersea Park (and the children’s zoo), and then dropped in the bottles from Chelsea Bridge. The bigger one was dropped in by my daughter. M. was really quick with the camera and managed to capture the moment:

Dispatch of Bottle No. 86

And Bottle No. 87 was dropped in by my son. Unfortunately I was slower, and the bottle had already dopped with the shutters opened:

Shortly after Dispatch of Bottle No. 87
In the picture below you can see them both floating down the river. If you click on it, you go to an ipernity page, and there you can choose to “see all sizes” to actually see that the tiny white specks in the middle of the circles are actually bottles.

Messages in Bottles No. 86 and 87 floating down the River Thames
Like always I am hoped for a good travel and happy finders for these bottles.

Dispatch into the North Sea from the “King Seaways”

King seaways IJmuiden, December 2011

King Seaways via Wikimedia Commons

I boarded the King of Seaways on the 29th of December in Ijmuiden (near Amsterdam) to go to North Shields (Newcastle) together with my husband and the twins to go home to Nottingham after our Christmas vacation in Germany. After our dinner on board the children got ready for bed and I dropped two of my bottles into the North Sea. I am not quite sure what time it was, maybe 8pm in the Netherlands. If that is true, then we had been sailing for about 2 or 3 hours at the time, in any case we were still much closer to the Dutch than to the English coast.

These were the last two bottles I still had prepared, carrying the numbers 83 and 75.

flaschenpost 01

a last look at the bottles, still in the cabin

flaschenpost 02

stepping out onto the promenade deck

We had our cabin on deck 11 which is rather high above the water. I went down as low as possible on the promanade deck, maybe deck 9, and there at the stern I threw the bottles over the star board, hoping that this way they won’t get struck by the propeller. In the ship’s light I could see one of them floating away, obviously surviving the fall. The other sounded o.k., but I failed to see it. – The attempt to make a photo failed, unfortunately but not unexpectedly.

The following picture was taken the next morning: Somewhere there in the East my bottles float.

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Sunrise seen from the stern of the King Seaways

Now it is time to make new bottles. I have no plans yet, so I am myself looking forward to see how the new series will look like.