It was during one of my holidays in the North Sea isle of Langeoog that I came to know about a certain family Bley, who were on holiday too, discovered two bottles with messages.
It was the morning after a stormy night in September, when the pair from St. Augustin went for a walk along the beach with their 3-year old son Benedikt. Besides the usual mussels, dried up Portugese man-o-war, and sea-weed there was nothing of interest, when Mr. Bley picked up a plastic bottle. You can buy these flat plastic bottles with a paper to certify its origin and some sand at the many souvenir shops in Langeoog.
Mr. Bley opened the bottle, took out the paper: it was a document for ordering from a fish-monger based in Peterhead (Scotland), on the back of which someone had scribbled the nautical ordinates with a date.
After a short while, Jan Bley found another bottle, also with a message from Brora, a town in in the East Coast of the Northern Highland in Scotland. Both messages had been underway for a period of ten weeks. After scrutinising the messages, the Bleys sent two picture postcards in the hope of receiving a reply. The family went to their home near Bonn after their North Sea holiday was over.
They were delighted and excited to find two letters from Scotland waiting to be opened.
The first was a letter from a fisher who lived with his wife and two children in Peterhead. He said he’d been bored in his trawler and had sent the message on July 1, 1993 some thirty miles north of the Butt of Lewis in the outer Hebrides.
The second message-in-the-bottle was from a young man from Sheffield who’d sent the bottle during a holiday in Brora. The young man lost interest in the correspondence after a while, but the other family from Peterhead responded warm-heartedly and the friendship grew. The Bleys even went to Scotland via Amsterdam, to Newcastle and ultimately to the Scottish town of Peterhead. The German and Scottish families embraced each other, and since the children were of the same age, they became good friends. Family Bley brought wonderful memories of Scotland, and it wouldn’t have happened if John the fisher handn’t sent a message in a bottle.
The other story is about a guy named Werner Kühnis, who was 18 years old when he dropped a message in the Rhine near Oberriet. That was in 1980. He’d forgotten about it and last weekend he received a mail from South Africa.
A young lady had found the bottle in Capetown, and since the message was in German, she’d asked a German-speaking girl-friend to help her to translate and send a reply. The bottle must have crossed the Atlantic a couple of times. When you throw a bottle into the Rhine it has to be a robust one to outlive the fierce cataracts of the Rhine-falls in Schaffhausen (Switzerland).Werner now has contacts with the female finder of the bottle in South Africa.
Since I’m a contributing-writer on the American Chronicle, Facebook and elsewhere, I have brought people together. The first tie it was a US-lady who’d been to Zermatt (Switzerland) and had bought a painting by an artist I’d interviewed. I’d written two articles about my Swiss trek and the lady sent me an e-mail requesting if I could kindly help her contact the said artist in Switzerland because she wanted to buy more of his works. I complied. The other was a Swiss graphic designer who’d wanted to have the film-rights of a cartoon book by my MGV-colleague Franz Keller about whom I’d written an article on the American Chronicle and sent a link to FB.
Then there the story of Klaus and Frederique who went to school at Kolleg St.Sebastian in Stegen. After school they’d lost contact and one day Frederique chanced to read my article about the men’s Choir from Freiburg-Kappe ‘Liederkranz,’ and asked me on FB whether it was the same Klaus Suetterle who went to school at the Kolleg St. Sebastian in Stegen. She was delighted when I answered in the affirmative, and I’ve become a good friend of both. She comes every year from Paris to our Weihnachtskonzert and we celebrate our get-together with French and Spanish wine.