I spend a lot of my time in New York drawing imaginary maps of the UK in the air in order to explain where Wales is.
After ten minutes of my hand flailing the usual response is "So what part of London is that in?"
Geography is not a strong suit of the average American and is it any wonder when new stats show that despite a huge rise, only 30% of citizens hold a U.S. passport?
In their defence, there is a lot going on in their homeland. If you're a Californian you don't don't even need to leave the state to ski powdery slopes, sunbathe golden beaches or see breathtaking mountains.
And if you live in NYC it's like residing in a vacuum. It's not like the rest of America, if it wasn't for George Washington in your wallet, you might forget you're even living in the U.S. There are many reasons never to leave. Stay here for too long and you become confused when people in other cities tell you they don't have 24 hour food delivery and Drag Queen bingo.
I rarely leave New York myself. Not out of choice, more out of a lack of Benjamins in my wallet (Oh freelance!). So you can only imagine my squeely joy recently when I was invited on a press trip to the Florida Keys. I threw my Hunters in the cupboard, dragged my summer clothes from under the bed and spent much time debating whether my main hot weather look should be "Out of Africa" or "Nautical meets Chanel cruise wear".
Then in the depths of the January sleet I left my apartment in NYC at 6 a.m. in five layers. I flew South for less than 3 hours and shed clothes on the plane as I went. By the time we reached Miami airport I had changed into flip flops, sunnies and a floaty dress. I was still in the same country but now it was 82 degrees and men were wearing Hawaiian shirts.
You know that line "You're not in New York now."? The one that always gets churned out in Rom Coms where the Louboutined heroine is forced to move to Hicksville and is astonished to discover there's no Prada and the restaurants shut at 9p.m? Well that was what was in my head. Although it barely mattered by dinnertime when I was eating fresh seafood under a palm tree.
6 days, a lot more seafood and a minor sunburn later and I came back to NYC and one of the worst snowstorms in 300 million years. 20 inches of the stuff. So thick it made the trees look like they were growing cotton.
Florida feels like it never happened. Florida didn't. It couldn't have. Except there are 182 pictures on my digital camera that say it did.
So to remind me- and extend the very last dregs of my bragging rights- here are just a few of them...
My food travelogue piece on the Florida Keys will be published in the NY Metro newspaper.