More than two decades ago, a 10-year-old schoolgirl threw a bottle into the sea off the coast of Hull as she headed with her family to Germany for a holiday from Hull, England, hoping to receive an answer from a complete stranger from a faraway country.
In her letter the schoolgirl Zoe Lemon wrote: “Dear finder, my name is Zoe Lemon. Please would you write to me, I would like it a lot. I am 10 years old and I like ballet, playing the flute and the piano. I have a hamster called Sparkle and fish called Speckle.”
However, since then she forgot about her letter, grew up and got married. But this Christmas she was staggered to receive a reply after 23 years.
The mum – whose surname is now Averianov – was stunned when her parents called for Christmas and said they had post from Europe.
The 33-year-old Zoe, who works in a jewelry shop and lives in Pendleton, said: “It’s been a bit crazy really. My parents came to visit on Christmas day and they had this letter from Europe addressed to my maiden name, Lemon.”
Averianov said the letter turned out to be from Netherlands couple Piet and Jacqueline Lateur, who discovered her bottle and the message it contained near their home in Serooskerke while walking their dog.
The reply read: “Dear Zoe, yesterday on one of my many walks with my wife along the dikes of Oosterschelde looking among the debris thrown by the sea of embankment I found a little plastic bottle containing your message.”
“The first thing I saw was my handwriting as a child and my little letter saying who I was and about my pets and my hobbies. It made me a bit emotional,” she said.
Since receiving the letter, Zoe has been in contact with Piet via email and asked to see photographs of where the bottle was found.
He told her: “I am keeping your little letter on my piano. I know you are no longer a little girl but you asked me to write you so I have.”
Mrs. Averianov, who lived in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, when she was growing up, said her father, John Lemon, 68, had encouraged her to write the letter and was just as delighted as she was by the reply, reports the Daily Mail.
“It’s amazing it was still undamaged. My dad has been looking at pictures of the area where it was found online and it looks as though there is a cove, so it could have been bobbing around there for years.
“My dad is ridiculously excited. I think he’ll be after visiting, but we have only been in contact a few days so only time will tell.”
Zoe said she is considering doing a similar project her 5-year-old son, Maksim.
“I’ll probably wait until he’s a bit older and can understand and write a letter, but maybe we’ll do it by attaching it to a balloon,” she said.