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 Münster 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.


Christmas Dispatches


The Pride of Rotterdam, Foto By Stefan Scheer [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Like the past two years I spent the Christmas Holidays in Germany, visiting family. And, just like the past years, I brought messages in bottles with me. The first bottle, No. 73, was tossed into a black North Sea in the small hours in the morning from board the Pride of Rotterdam, about an hour before we reached the harbour in Rotterdam.

Wie auch die letzten beiden Jahre habe ich die Weihnachtsferien in Deutschland verbracht. Und, ebenfalls wie in den letzten Jahren auch, habe ich die Gelegenheit genutzt, ein paar Flaschen abzuwerfen. Die erste Flasche trägt die Nummer 73 und den Titel “die Biene”. Ich habe sie in den Morgenstunden vom so genannten Sonnendeck der “Pride of Rotterdam” geworfen, etwa eine Stunde bevor wir in den Hafen in Rotterdam eingelaufen sind.

Es war noch absolut dunkel, kalt und windig draußen. Ich habe noch einen kurzen Blick erhaschen können, und bin sicher, dass die Flasche nicht beim Aufprall aufs Wasser zerschollen oder in unsere eigene Schraube geraten ist. Aber innerhalb von Sekunden wurde sie von der Dunkelheit verschluckt. Das letzte Bild, das ich von ihr habe, ist noch in unserer Kabine entstanden:

It was surprisingly windy on the so called sundeck, although we had had a very steady ride. I was still dark, but I was able to see that the bottle hit the water without taking apparent damage. But we swiftly left it behind, and it was swallowed up in the darkness in seconds. This is the last photo I took of it, still in our cabin:

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Last photo of bottle no. 73 “The Bee” on board the Pride of Rotterdam

The second bottle was dispatched in to the River Ems in Telgte the day before Christmas Eve. The Ems splits into a main and a side arm in Telgte and both rejoin just a little North of the city center, behind the monumental church (well, monumental, given the size of the city). The main arm is slowed down with a weir there, which is where I threw last year’s bottle in. This year we went 10m further down the road and my son put bottle No. 76 “the star” into the smaller side arm there.

Die zweite Flasche, Nummer 76, habe ich am 23. Dezember in Telgte in die Ems geworfen. Naja, eigentlich nicht ich selbst, sondern mein Sohn. Er steht hier und schaut flussaufwärts, seine Schwester schaut in die andere Richtung und hält Ausschau nach der Post. Bis er und ich auf der anderen Brückenseite ware (eigentlich nicht weit), und ich die Kamera für ein letztes Foto bereit hatte, war die Flasche schon davon geschwommen. – Die Ems war recht voll und erstaunlich schnell an dem Tag.

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my son, facing upstream and putting in the message in bottle, my daughter (his twin sister) stood on the other side of the bridge facing downstream watching the bottle

Below you can see how the river looks like there. The water was high and quick, and when I had turned down and tried to make a picture of the floating bottle, I had already lost sight. Maybe one of you can spot it in the photo? I definitely can’t not even when looking at it in full resolution.

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view of the sidearm of the Ems in the city centre of Telgte

In Telgte teilt sich die Ems und fließt gerade durch die Stadt als ein Haupt- und ein Nebenarm, die sich kurz unterhalb des letzten Wehrs in Telgte wieder vereinen. Letztes Jahr habe ich in den Hauptarm geworfen, diesmal haben wir uns für den Seitenarm entschieden.Man kann die Stelle auf dem Foto oben beinahe erahnen. – Aber wahrscheinlich nur, wenn man den Fluss da kennt.Ich wünsche beiden Flaschen glückliche Finder!

I hope both bottles will meet kind and happy finders!


Weihnachtsflaschenpost: Drei Abwürfe

abwurf nr 37 in telgte 04Wie im letzten Artikel versprochen, will ich nochmal einige Fotos von den Flaschenabwürfen um Weihnachten rum nachliefern.

Oben ist das Wehr in Telgte zu sehen mit der Kirche St. Clemens im Hintergrund. Hier habe ich am 24. Dezember meine “Weihnachtsflaschenpost” ausgesetzt. Von der Fußgängerbrücke im Bild entstand dieses Foto:

abwurf nr 37 in telgte 01Da stehe ich, geschminkt und angemalt, in der Hoffnung, jemand würde mich fragen was ich da so mache. – Leider kam niemand vorbei, der mich hätte fragen können, dabei hatte ich extra schöne Visitenkarten dabei. Die Flasche habe ich trotzdem abgeworfen:

abwurf nr 37 in telgte 02I am writing to fulfill my promise and show you pictures of the dispatch of the latest three bottles. The first one, my “Christmas bottle” (it indeed contains Christmas greetings) was submitted to the river Ems in Telgte on the 24th. I dressed up for the occasion (as mermaid say I, as water-corpse says M.) to draw some attention. I had special business cards with me, and hoped someone would ask me what I was doing. – No luck with that. But I did throw the bottle in. On the picture on the top you see the weir of Telgte. I put in the bottle just beneath it.

abwurf nr 37 in telgte 03Am 28. Dezember war ich dann mit Mann und Kindern bei der Mainmündung in Mainz, und dort sind nochmal zwei Flaschen ins Wasser gegangen. Mit der ersten hat mir unser Sohn geholfen:

Abwurf nr 33 in mainz 01The next bottle with dispatched from a railway bridge into the river Rhine where the Main enters the stream. Above you see little man preparing to put in bottle no. 33.

abwurf nr 33 in mainz 02Sie war so schnell im Wasser, dass ich Schwierigkeiten hatte, ein Bild vom Abwurf zu machen, aber hier kann man sie schwimmen sehen.

Und dann nochmal der Profi 😉 Ich war noch schneller, und ich habe noch nicht mal ein Bild von der schwimmenden Flasche.

And then I threw in bottle number 38:

abwurf nr 38 in mainz 01abwurf nr 33 in mainz 03Wie immer wünsche ich meinen Flaschen eine gute Reise und gute Finder! Ich bin ein wenig überrascht, dass ich von der Weihnachtsflasche noch nichts gehört habe. Telgte liegt etwa 16 Kilometer flußaufwärts von Greven, wo der schiffbare Teil der Ems beginnt. Bis dahin muss die Flasche noch eine Staustelle überwinden, die ähnlich aussieht, wie die in Telgte. Die Chancen dafür sind nicht sehr gut. Ich hatte gehofft, dass über die Feiertage Spaziergänger sie sehr schnell finden. Allerdings war so schlechtes Wetter, dass wahrscheinlich wenig Leute Lust auf einen Spaziergang hatten, und die die draußen waren, noch weniger Lust, Müll aus dem Wasser zu ziehen. Nun ja, vielleicht ist sie ja sogar noch unterwegs, wer weiß.

Wie immer: Wenn eine der Flaschen gefunden wird, gebe ich mehr über ihren Inhalt preis.

I wish all my bottles a smooth ride and gentle finders. And I wish that you might find one, one day, and will let me know! And I wish you a magical and creative 2014 with lots of joy and pleasant surprises along the way.