English girl (10) who sent message in bottle in 1990 finally gets reply

Couple in the Netherlands find bottle

Jacqueline and Pieter Piket were walking along a stretch of coastal dyke in Zeeland over the holidays, when their dog began playing with a plastic bottle and they noticed a piece of paper inside.  Photograph: Getty Images

Jacqueline and Pieter Piket were walking along a stretch of coastal dyke in Zeeland over the holidays, when their dog began playing with a plastic bottle and they noticed a piece of paper inside. Photograph: Getty Images

Mon, Jan 6, 2014, 22:11


A 10-year-old English girl who threw a message in a bottle into the sea in 1990, full of enthusiasm about her pet fish, her hamster and ballet lessons, has received a new year’s reply from a couple in the Netherlands more than 20 years later.

Jacqueline and Pieter Piket were walking along a stretch of coastal dyke in Zeeland, the westernmost part of the country, over the holidays, when their dog began playing with a plastic bottle and they noticed a piece of paper inside.

“Dear finder, my name is Zoe Lemon. Please would you write to me? I would like it a lot,” the crumpled message began, and they were captivated.

“I am 10 years old and I like ballet, playing the flute and the piano. I have a hamster called Sparkle and a fish called Speckle. My mum and dad are teachers, and I have a sister called Rebecca who is 14. My birthday is on a special day – 29th February.”

Zoe Lemon, clearly a born optimist, signed the letter, “Yours hopefully, ZL.”

Zoe is now 33. She uses her married name, Averianov, has a five-year-old son, and has moved from West Yorkshire to Pendleton, near Manchester, where she works in a shop. However her parents still live in the same house.

“I was fascinated when my parents came to visit and I saw the letter with my maiden name on it,” says Zoe, who still remembers throwing the bottle into the water in Hull as the family boarded a ferry.


‘Very emotional’
“The first thing I saw was my childish handwriting from all those years ago – and it made me very emotional. “After 350 miles and 23 years at sea, it’s amazing it was still undamaged. My dad is really excited. He’s been looking online and the area where it was found looks like a cove. It could have been bobbing there for years.”

The Pikets have kept a copy of her message as a memento. “We are keeping it here on the piano,” they wrote her. “We know you are no longer a little girl, but you asked us to write and so we did.”

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