Young John Arthur has plenty of bottle

A family walk over the festive season resulted in an unusual find for a young Vidlin lad.

Twelve-year-old John Arthur Robertson was out walking on the shore at Grutwick with his uncle and young cousin when he found a small, sea-worn Lucozade bottle containing some papers.

Closer inspection revealed that the contents were an entire day-to-a-page calendar for the month of May. This was a happy coincidence, as John Arthur was born in May.
Each page included a printed religious passage and although the calendar did not bear the year, the family has worked out that the pages are from 2001.

Click for full image

The sender of the slightly bizarre message in a bottle is a mystery as there are no written details of where the prize might have originated. The family pondered whether May was singled out for a specific reason, or whether the sender may have launched a bottle for each month in 2001. Perhaps John Arthur will discover another 11 bottles on his travels.

This message in a bottle is not the first discovery of this kind John Arthur has made. Last year he found a bottle containing pictures and artefacts on a beach near his home. The young beach-comber was in no doubt as to the origins of that find – the sender was himself!

Back in 2008, while he was a pupil at Lunnasting primary school, each pupil in the school had pre­pared and sent a message in a bottle. Over three years later John Arthur retrieved his own message at almost the exact spot it had been launched from.

John Arthur is “always purling in the ebb” as his mother puts it and has a treasure trove of items that he has collected on his shore-line travels over the years.

He has an impressive knowledge of his finds. What looked likes a small non-descript blue plastic tray, John Arthur says, was used in a Norwegian dairy.

He had also discovered that some small, curling pieces of bark found during a trip to a local beach were from a tree only found in Scandin­avian countries. One of his more useful finds was an intact plastic petrol can which he intends putting to good use.

We’ll watch with interest to see if those other 11 months of the year ebb up around Vidlin.


Add Your Comment
  • Jim Grunberg

    • January 13th, 2013 14:56

    Congratulations John Arthur.

    On BBC Radio 4 a couple years ago were 15 minute programmes of “The History Of The World In A 100 Objects”. They were very interesting and inspired me to start Facebook albums entitled “Jim’s History Of The World In 100 Beachcombed Objects” YOU are all welcome to look.

    My first memories of the beach are at 3-4 years old when we squatted in an old army hut near the Greenhead, Lerwick and have a photo to prove it!
    Some of the many objects include a cannon ball, Danish coin, working stereo headphones, Newfoundland crabpot tag, Spanish sauce bottle, ceramic marble, Sperm whale tooth and loads of shipwreck items from the 1990s.

    A recent find was a full 20 ltre fuel drum of petrol. Anyone recognize it?


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.