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.

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.

 

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.

flaschenpost 03

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.

 

Christmas Dispatches

Pride-of-Rotterdam

The Pride of Rotterdam, Foto By Stefan Scheer [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, 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:

Photo0251 kleiner

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.

003 kleiner

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.

005 kleiner

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!

 

Bottle Number 61 found

Mablethorpe 010

Message Number 61 on 1st of August, minutes before being released into the water

 Hi,
I am a 12 year old boy, and from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. I found your message in a bottle, number 61, in the sea at Mablethorpe near the seal sanctuary, on August the 3rd 2015.
I was swimming in the sea with my Dad, I thought it looked like something interesting so I asked my Dad to swim out to it to get for me. I saw it, but it wasn’t obvious what it was straight away.

We opened the bottle back at my Grandma’s caravan, and my family and I were touched to see that someone had put loads of effort into making someone else feel happy!  The bottle is on my mantlepiece at home, and it gives me happy memories of my holidays.
Thank you for the great gift, and I was excited to find it!
This email that reached me two days ago (well, in fact it is two messages which I put together here). I am delighted to hear that another bottle has found a happy new owner.
The bottle has been floating for three or four days it seems, back and forth with the tide, and was found on the same beach quite close to where it was dispatched.
Message in a Bottle No. 61

No. 61 still at home

Vor zwei Tagen hat mich (in etwa) die folgende Email erreicht

Hallo,
ich bin ein 12 Jahre alter Junge aus Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Ich habe die Flaschenpost No. 61 am 3. August im Meer schwimmend bei Mablethorpe gefunden, in der Nähe der Seehundaufzuchtstation.

Ich war gerade mit meinem Papa im Wasser, und dachte, dass da etwas interessantes im schwimmt. Ich habe die Flasche gesehen, aber mit war nicht klar, was das sein würde. Ich habe meinen Papa gebeten, es für mich aus dem Wasser zu holen, und so ist er für mich rausgeschwommen.
Wir haben die Flasche mit in den Wohnwagen von meiner Oma genommen und dort aufgemacht. Ich und meine Familie waren sehr berührt davon, dass jemand sich so viel Mühe macht, anderen eine Freude zu machen! Die Flasche steht  auf meinem Kaminsims zu Hause und erinnert mich an meine schönen Ferien.
Ja, also wie du lesen kannst, Flasche nummer 61 ist also gefunden worden. Sie ist anscheinend 3 oder 4 Tage lang im Wasser getrieben und mit den Gezeiten hin- und hergeschwappt. Sie wurde so ziemlich and er gleichen Stelle gefunden, wo sie auch abgeworfen wurde.
Viele meiner Flaschen werden von 11-15 Jahre alten Jungs gefunden: Das sind anscheinend die aufmerksamsten Beobachter.
I heart U 007 kleiner

title page

Bottle number 61 is one of the five sister bottles with title “I (heart) you”. The five miniature books contained are not completely identical, but are all made making use of a couple of stamps which I cut from the erasers at the end of some pencils. – Andn then I also distributed the pencils among the bottles, of course. Additionally the bottle contained a letter explaining a little about the project and giving my contact details.
I showed off images of the bottles after bottle number 60 was found in the Saskatchewan river. I’ll include them here once again – and add one image showing off another of the inside pages as promised.
I heart U 008 kleiner

first spread

Flasche Nummer 61 ist eine von fünf Schwesterflaschen, die alle ein Minibuch mit dem Titel “I (heart) U” enthalten. Die Büchlein sind nicht 100% identisch, aber alle mit den gleichen Stempeln gemacht, die ich in die Radiergummis am Ende von einigen Bleistiften geschnitten habe. – Die habe ich dann natürlich auch auf die Flaschen verteilt.
I heart U 009 kleiner

second spread: “I ❤ U when you feel you have no-one”

Thanks to the finder who has shared his story with me and with us!

Danke nochmal an den Finder, der mich kontaktiert und seine Geschichte mit uns geteilt hat!

Bottle No. 71 found

Message in a Bottle No. 71Das oben ist Flasche nummer 71, noch zu Hause. M. hat sie für mich am Montag vom Strand aus (Westseite) in die East Fleet in Wells-next-the-Sea geworfen. Gestern (Sonntag) wurde sie von zwei Schwestern auf der Ostseite gefunden, laut ihrer Email am “East Hill” aber ich weiß nicht genau, wo das eigentlich ist, oder wie man da eigentlich hinkommt.

Ich vermute, die Flasche muss wohl in diesen Salzwasserströmen dort eine Weile hin und hergeschwommen sein, bevor sie gefunden wurde.

This is bottle number 71, still at home. M. tossed it for me into the East Fleet in Wells-next-the-Sea on Monday, standing at the beach (West side). It was found yesterday (Sunday) on the East side, at East Hill by two sisters from Cambridge who were on a weekend trip in Wells. I am not sure where exactly that is – or how to get there!

I guess the bottle most have travelled up and down the fleet for a while with the tides before it was found.

flaschenpost no 071-01 kleinerThis is a picture taken before sealing the bottle. It contained: the lino print which was also visible from the outside, a shell, a scroll with my usual greeting letter and contact data, and a piece of parchment, where I am rambling about libraries and beaches and how they are so similar.

To my delight the sisters like the print and said they found the experience of finding and opening the bottle very exciting. – Perfect!

Das ist ein Bild vor dem Verschließen der Flasche. Sie enthielt: den Linolschnitt, der auch von außen zu sehen war, eine Muschel, eine Rolle mit meinem üblichen Gruß und Kontaktdaten, und ein Stück Pergament, auf dem ich darüber rede, wie sehr sich Bibliotheken und Strände doch irgendwie ähneln.

Zu meiner Freude, scheinen die beiden Schwestern den Druck zu mögen, und schreiben, dass Finden und Öffnen der Flasche sei sehr aufregend gewesen. – Perfekt!

Last Week’s Result: 6 Dispatched, 1 Found

wells flaschenpost

bottle floating in the sea near Wells-next-the-Sea

We had a big celebration here on Saturday in our house will all our family from Germany visiting, but had arranged everything to go on a brief vacation with my sister and her family for a couple of days, leaving on Sunday. As you might expect, the Saturday and Sunday morning were full of activity and running around. I sat down in the car beside DH, kids in the back, excited to go on a beach vacation with their cousins, heaved a big sigh of relief, and felt ready for vacation indeed. Luckily the drive was not far, a little less than three hours to Wells-Next-The-Sea in North Norfolk.

The beach in Wells is magnificent. There are dunes along the shore, some permanently outside the water, some forming islands while the water is retreating. During low tide, we did not manage to actually walk to the shore line, because our kids would have had to be carried the whole way. Here is a satellite image of the coast (thanks to google):

sat img wells

satellite image of the coast near Wells-next-the-Sea (via google maps)

Can you see that brighter yellow strip near the pine forrest there, this is the part of the beach that usually stays dry during high tide. The whole rest is covered in water. The water then retreats fast, but there is a stream that remains full of water also during low tide. I am not sure whether this is a river in the sense that it carries sweet water. But there are several springs in and around wells (hence the name) and it might be that it is a “real” river. However, looking at google maps it seems to be connected to the sea at several points, and the tide definitely pushes in mightilty. So I am not sure.

On Monday I unfortunately couldn’t leave the bed (full story on my other blog), but M. and my sister put in a bottle for me. The tide was already fairly low, and with more small children at the beach than adults, it was not possible for them to reach the actual sea. So they tossed two bottles in this stream:

Here goes the bottle with number 69

Here goes the bottle with number 69

and number 71 right after.

and number 71 right after.

It is funny how fast bottles goe seperate ways after having been tossed in at essentially the same time and the same spot. Bottle number 69 was found right after being put into the water. I have not heard anything about the other one.

Two days later. I went to the beach myself. This time the water just started to retreat – ideal conditions.

wells no 62

I make one photo of the number before putting in bottles to know later which bottle relates to which image.

My sister and I took turns throwing in bottles which were caught by the falling tide and the current that would later be the river and drifted quickly out to sea. You can see the buoys in the photos, marking the waterway to Wells harbour for ships.

Bottle number 66

Bottle number 66

throwing in bottle number 70

throwing in bottle number 70

Bottle number 68

Bottle number 68

Although the bottles drifted away quickly, we could follow them with our eyes for a while, drifting past two smaller boats. The beach was well visited and I feared someone might take the bottles out right after me tossing it in. But at least those four could only have been retrieved from the beach at hight risk, given the speed with which they drifted out to sea. We looked for a less visited corner, and indeed it looked like no-one watched us throwing. And also the people on the boat didn’t seem to notice the floating bottles.

On our way home on Thursday, we took a break to look at King’s Lynn, where the river Ouse flows into the sea. Unfortunately I didn’t have any more bottles on me. M. was surprised that I put in 4 bottles on Wednesday, but my sister and I had just too much fun tossing the bottles to not to. I wish I had brough more.

When I came home, I found a surprise in my mailbox. A boy aged 11 send me the following message:

I found your little message in the bottle at Wells-next-to-sea’s beach on Monday the 17th of August 2015. I was really surprised to find it floating around in the sea. I was just wondering where did you drop the message in from? my number for the bottle is 69.

Of course I already wrote back, gave him some details and asked for more. How did he find it? Was it hard to spot? Easy to open? Everything dry? And who is he? Was he on a vacation? Where is he from? – I hope he’ll answer my email. If he does, I’ll let you know of course.

This is a picture of the bottle still at home:

Message in a Bottle No. 69

Message in a Bottle No. 69, still at home

I named bottle number 69 “jumpping fish”, and as usual for these bottles, I cut the stamp for the fish by hand, and put the stamp in as a gift.

the cover image and the stamp on my worktable

the cover image and the stamp on my worktable

When I point my computer’s camera down, you can see that I curently have six more bottles here waiting for their release. I would like to put at least some of the small worlds into the river Thames. That is because I hope that even wild as it is, the river would be more gentle to the bottles than the open sea, and I know that there is at least one message collector on the Thames shores. Well, I’ll see. And of course I’ll let you know as soon as I can. (Unfortunately that sometimes means after I already put the bottles in. If you are interested in meeting up, taking a look at the bottles before I toss them, or just to join up for a joint tossing event, let me know now so that I we can be in touch closer to the actual event.)

at homeP.S.: I just noticed that for all summer dispatches, on all the photos I was wearing the same pair of pants. I maybe should mention that I do have others, and I also wear them…