Touching message of best friends’ final journey discovered in bottle on Nayland beach

Steve sent the bottle on its next journey at high tide

A bottle with ashes of two best friends and a beautiful message has been sent further on its seabound journey after being discovered by a beachcomber at Nayland Rock.

Archaeologist Steve Tomlinson, from Birchington, came across the bottle at the beach near the Bus Café at the Sun Deck area yesterday (December 31) morning.

The bottle had a cork sealed with wax which was still intact but through the glass Steve was able to read part of the message which said: “Inside is a token amount of the ashes of John Henry Farrant and his best friend Rod Dowling, they often went on holiday together and are now going on their last adventure together, please feel free to scatter these ashes or replace the cork and send them more on their journey.”

The message showed the bottle had been first sent into the water from Westgate in September 2020.

The discovery followed a ‘premonition’ the night before when Steve dreamed he was talking to a man by the Nayland ramp who asked him to send him on his way.

The dad-of-two said: “It was a weird dream but I didn’t really think anything of it. The next day I went out on my normal route on the beach and found this bottle exactly where I had been in the dream.

“I read the message and it was quite emotional. There was no water in the bottle and the cork was sealed very well with wax so I thought I would send them on their journey.

“The message was so sweet, you do not think you will find anything like that and I have never found a message in a bottle before.

“I waited for high tide and then went out as deep as I safely could to send them out off Nayland.

“It was nice to be able to do that for the families and I hope the bottle goes further on its journey.”

Steve, 49, said he had an unusual day, also finding a whole antique bottle. In 2018 Steve hit the news when he discovered a moccasin shoe thought to be at least 700 years old and possibly dating from the Bronze Age.


  1. Wow, well done Steve, I hope you didn’t get too wet and cold as you waded out in the water to see the bottle off on its way. What a charming story! Those guys died quite young, didn’t they, and only recently. Were you not tempted to discover who had originally despatched the bottle on its marine journey? I hope the next person to find it is as caring as you. 😊

    • Thanks very much Stephen for those lovely comments, it was a lovely and emotional letter in the bottle, a wonderful send off. I am just pleased and very happy to have helped the family, and the two gentlemen who have gone further on their journey.

      • What a wonderful thought for those two men forever together and still travelling the seas xxx

      • Hi Steve I thought I’d mention to you that the premonition and location is very very relevant.
        Rod died 14 + years ago and John had kept half of his friends ashes,John died in May this year and I have not been able to have a wake for him so wanted to do something different and as they lived their holidays I thought that could have a last adventure together. The 29th Dec was Rod’s birthday & also the the date that one of John’s sons died. As I said the location & your premonition is relevant and I hope the next person who comes across John & Rod is as nice as you and I really appreciate you sending them on.

        • Hi Joanna,
          That is a really touching message, and thank you so much for your lovely kind words, you are more than welcome and I feel very honoured to be able to send those lovely gentlemen further on their journey. The overnight premonition was one I certainly wont forget I remember it in so much detail I actually felt I was present there and then. I clearly remember then,(and even now) all of the details of the gentlemen who was standing next to me on the beach where the bottle was to be found the next day. Please feel free to contact me if you would like any further details it would be very interesting.
          Kind Regards
          Steve Tomlinson.

  2. Hi Steve, thank you so much for sending my husband John & Rod on, I only threw the bottle on 29 dec and that’s just typical of them not to have got far! I wonder where they will next end up ?

    • This is a lovely story, Joanna, although very sad for you, obviously. What a great thing to have done for your husband and his best friend. Did they travel a lot together and how far back did their friendship go?

    • Hi Joanna you are very welcome, It was such a loving and touching message sent within the bottle, and I was more than pleased to be able to help both of them further their journeys.

  3. I hope they manage to go on a fabulous cruise across the waters somewhere nice far away into the sunset. A lovely story and a fitting send off for two friends keen on travels. May they sail away in peace.

  4. Well done Steve , I’ve had dreams like that but not everything fits , I found they mixed . Had one from a mate all he said was its good up here , never thought anything of it . I found out Months later he had died ,weired

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