Message in a Bottle { 10 images } Created 30 Nov 2011

WHEN ten-year-old Annie Rivet put a message in a bottle and threw it into the English Channel in 1963, she never imagined that the ten-year-old Dutch boy who found it would become such a big part of her life.
Mrs Elffers, now 51, said: "I liked stories about pirates and that's how I knew about messages in bottles. So when my parents took me to France on holiday, I had my Tizer bottle ready and threw it in the sea halfway across the Channel.
"The note, which we still have, said: 'Anyone finding this message please send to Annie Rivet,' with my address in Edinburgh, 'stating where found. Thank you. Merci Bien.' I thought it would end up in France."
The bottle washed up on Noordwijk beach in the Netherlands and was found by Niels Elffers.
The first letter from the Netherlands, which had been translated into English by Mr Elffers' mother, caused great excitement.
Annie and Niels first met at the age of 12, when Annie's parents went to the Netherlands on holiday and called in on the Elffers family in Utrecht.
They stayed in touch and met for the second time when they were 20.
"I was working in France one summer when I was a student," Mrs Elffers said. "He and his parents visited and invited me to spend a week with them in Holland, which I did. I had a very pleasant time."
After finishing her studies, Annie found a job teaching languages in The Hague, but insists that it was not because she had any designs on Niels. "I just wanted to be international and travel; it wasn't because of him," she said.
One summer when they were in their early 20s, they discovered that they had made separate plans to travel around France, so decided to pool their resources.
The couple decided to live together and moved to Vianen, in the Netherlands, where Mr Elffers was working. They married there in 1978, at the age of 25, and stayed for 27 years.
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