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What's in a Name

It feels like a perfect time to start my blog, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, by sharing the story of my beginnings as right about now it’s been exactly ten years since it all began.

Ten years ago I was a single woman who’d just graduated from Translation Studies living in a lovely flat in Ljubljana wrapping up my first literary translation (a novel by Lee Child) which had made me realise what a lonely and completely underpaid profession being a literary translator was.

I felt too young to settle; I had some savings and very itchy feet. I decided to give up my lovely flat and go travelling to Scotland for six months. I’d previously been there and loved the stunning countryside of the Highlands and Islands.

Thinking back, I was such a brave young girl! Based in Oban, I hitchhiked all the way up to Ullapool, from there, accompanied by two friends, to Loch Inver, and finally Sandwood Bay. From there we walked for a few days through complete wilderness, sleeping in bothies, all the way to Cape Wrath. Those were some of the best and most exciting days of my life and I have rarely since seen places so remote and magnificently beautiful.

I didn’t think anything could beat that trip until I decided to visit the Outer Hebrides. They were calling me. Again, I packed my backpack and off I went hitchhiking to Ullapool from where the ferry took me to Stornoway on Lewis. I met some amazing people whilst staying in hostels on Lewis and Harris and, on contrary with my previous experience, managed to make friends who felt like family. All the time I was wondering whether to visit the small Isle of Berneray, the next in the row of the Isles. Don’t go there, somebody told me, there’s nothing on Berneray. And yet, I felt there was something there for me; I wasn’t wrong.

I landed on Berneray early in the morning. The sky was clear and there wasn’t a wave on the sea. On a few kilometres long walk to the hostel situated at a white sandy beach I felt a powerful connection to this island. I don’t think I have ever felt such a strong bond to the Earth and the Universe ever before or since. I felt like this was where my soul had been born.

On that remarkable warm sunny day I walked around the island, along its sandy beaches, greeted a lonely bull from a distance and the ever-present sheep, and climbed the only hill (just over 100 m tall). On top of it I lay down and in the midst of enjoying the moment a thought struck me seemingly out of nowhere. I wanted to become a potter. I then daydreamed how great it would be to simply stay on the island and learn pottery (surely there was a potter around who wanted an apprentice?!).

The latter never came true as on that very evening when returning from my walk I met a lovely guy sitting in front of the hostel who turned out to be the love of my life. That meant the end of my Highland and Island adventures as my love came from Glasgow but the love of clay I had discovered within me followed me everywhere I went, even though it took a few years before I was able to buy a kiln.

Because it was on The Isle of Berneray where I was first able to hear my heart whisper to me about clay I have called my business Isla Clay.