In my first ever blog, posted a year ago today, I wrote about how the first time I touched the clay it felt felt like a homecoming. I was instantly transported back to my childhood when I was 12, just a few weeks after my mother died. That September I returned to boarding school 200 miles away from home, ten days after everyone else had gone back, grieving and terribly homesick. One evening after supper, Louie, a girl in my year who I didn't know well, suggested we go to the art room; it was out of bounds of course and I was worried about being caught, but she was fearless. The room was deserted and she lifted the lid off the clay bin, dug out a lump of earthenware and gave it to me. Gradually, as I started to handle and shape it, something inside me shifted into a calmer place - my mother had been an artist and I'm sure that being in that warm space, making and creating, helped me to feel connected to her. Louie and I sneaked up there on our own whenever we could in our free time, and during those long autumn evenings before the bell rang for bed, we became best friends and made things out of clay until the light faded and we could no longer see our hands. We were never caught and it became such a sanctuary for me - I was able to forget for a while and in time, life became more bearable and hopeful. When I was 14 I left to go to a school nearer home, leaving Louie and the clay behind, but what she did for me then was an act of extraordinary compassion and understanding in one so young - she seemed to instinctively know that the clay would help me, and it did. And then, a whole lifetime later, I pull another chunk of clay out of another bag in another world, and I feel a jolt of recognition that moves me - I am momentarily 12 again, next to my new friend, my hands in the clay, making and creating. Today 'Louie' is a successful potter and artist and this blog is for her,