Events of the past 6 months, and plans for the next

Quite a lot has happened over the last 6 months, and I finally find the time to tell you. As you will recall (and scrolling down it is not so hard to find the relevant blogposts), I released a good number of bottles last summer:

M. snapped me while throwing in bottles from Llandudno Pier

11 bottles on a trip to the British West Coast (links here, here, and here):

  • two of my small ones, one larger one (also my making), and one of a participant of the bottle making workshop in Chester (August 1st)
  • one of mine, one of Peter’s, Wolf Schindler’s and a bottle of one of the participants of the bottle making workshop from the Mersey ferry in Liverpool (August 2nd)
  • two of my bottles and two of Peter’s from Llandudno Pier in Wales (August 3rd), plus one larger bottle into a small harbour on the same day

and 10 bottles were dispatched during a trip to Germany (links here, here, and here):

  • one of mine, and one of Peter’s on August 19th from aboard the ferry Hull-Rotterdam (North Sea)
  • one in Telgte, river Ems, on August 21st
  • 3 in Koblenz, river Rhine, on 23rd of August
  • 4 in Bonn, river Rhine, on 28th of August

And not long after, the first messages about findings came in.

The first bottle that was found was the message I dropped off in the small harbour. It was found the same day, and still was completely intact.

This battered and wet message was found on August 12.

The second message about a finding reached me on August 12. At first it was a bit of a mystery which bottle it might have been, but it turned out as message number 109, one of the bottles that I put in from the pier in Llandudno. That meant, it travelled about 110km in a week.

On October 10th then, the first for one of my German bottles reached me. The finder had first handwritten a letter, and then decided to take a photo of it and send it via email after all because she found that easier. In any case I thought it was a nice gesture, and tried to get into contact a little more. Unfortunately that already fell into the time when I was  feeling unwell, was hopelessly burried under work, and my response rates were very slow. Maybe that was the ultimate reason why she didn’t seem to get into contact further. Or maybe it was the language barrier. I did send her email in German and English, but she answered very dismissive only with “I am sorry” (in English). Not sure what to make of that because she seemed very friendly in her first message. – I strongly suspect I did something wrong, I just don’t know what. Or maybe I would have had to write in French, but her handwriting looks very German to me, and even if I wanted to, I don’t think I could write a letter in French these days. (5 years ago is nothing, it has been 30 years since I wrote French.) Anyway, here’s the message that reached me:

As you can see, unfortunately there’s not much in it about the finding of the bottle. she did send a photo of her bottle, therefore I know she found the one that my son threw into the river Rhine in Bonn on the 28th of August. But I have no idea where or when it was found.

Bottle number 119 gets dropped. I know it was found some time before October 10, but not when exactly or where.

Then, on the 26th of October, another message reached me.

today I was cleaning up the Rhine in Koblenz.
And I was really happy, as I found your bottle 🙂
I read on your homepage, that you threw it from the “Deutsches Eck”, so the bottle could only swim a few kilometers.

The bottle was hidden in brushwood 😉

He very kindly included GPS data of where he found the bottle. The red arrow shows the location where he found it, a bit to the south you see, marked with a blue thingie, the “Deutsches Eck” where it was put in.

I find it absolutely amazing how some people can spot a message in a bottle at a river bank. I am sure I would just walk right past it:

Fortunately he marked the photo for me/us:

Bottle number 116 is found!

Apparently the contents survived their (short) trip very well:

message number 116 – found

Many, many thanks for the feedback! – And my apologies again that it took me so long to write this post!

And then on 2nd of January this year, I heard from yet another find!

Thank you drawing from a 9 year old girl

I dispatched Tracey Kershaw‘s bottle in Chester, and her bottle was found just outside the city.

So from the 21 bottles I released this past summer, 5 were found. That’s about 1/4 which is not bad for such small bottles. We can also see that most bottles that are dispatched in rivers, land at the next river bend. Then again, we’ll never know, maybe another one will turn up, and those are just the bottles, that were found quickly 🙂 Fare well, all my other bottles.

And many thanks to everyone who send me message. Even though I wasn’t able to process the information and share it right away, it always makes my day, hearing about someone finding my bottle, and liking it enough to send me message about it 🙂

sheffield 26

The river Don in Sheffield.

Edit: I almost forgot to make good the promise of the title and talk about plans. This post is already too long, so let me make it quick: I currently don’t have any bottles prepared, but will think of one or two to take with me to Sheffield in March. For I booked myself into another self organized writer’s retreat, similar to the one I held for myself one and a half years ago. – If you would like to see your bottle hit the waters of the Don, let me know, and I can take it there for you.

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, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62435137

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” 🙂 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.