Notes from the Backpack #1 – Thanksgiving, Island Style

notes from the backpack

This is my weekly post where I offer a slice of a british writers life in the Florida Keys. What I’ve been up to, what I’ve been reading online, and of course a few anecdotes from my life in the Florida Keys.

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to my first ever edition of Notes from the Backpack. This is basically a personal note from me to you, for the readers that know me, for the frequent visitors to the site, and of course to any newcomers. I moved from London to the Florida Keys in January this year and have been having a lot of laughs adjusting to this easy, breezy, Keys’y life.

The Florida Keys are unlike anywhere I have ever been before – although predominantly you know you are in America, everything is a little different here. From salty fishermen to happy hours, iguanas falling out of palm trees, and drag queens, you will never go home without a few interesting stories to tell of your time in the keys. Want to hear more? You’re in the right place.

Welcome to this new series of Sunday posts, and I hope you enjoy! Here is what I have been up to this week.

Recent Travels

A few weeks ago we visited California, which was a great trip full of family visits (it is where the boy’s family is from), road trips, and walks on the beach. I finally finished my post all about my favourite destination of the trip, the quiet surfer town, Carpinteria. Play some Beach Boys and read it here!

notes from the backpack

The stunning Carpinteria sunset

What I’ve Loved Online This Week

notes from the backpack

The boy and I on Thanksgiving morning

A Florida Keys ‘Friendsgiving’

I am completely new to the Thanksgiving holiday. Admittedly I was in California for Thanksgiving about four years ago but I spent it alone with a bottle of chardonnay and quesadillas made in my little toaster oven. Don’t feel sad about this – thanksgiving literally meant nothing to me back then. This year however, living semi-permanently in the Florida Keys with my man, I was really excited to have a whole new holiday to partake in.

I awoke as though it was Christmas morning (without a trace on Santa). What would the day have in store, I wondered? Turkey, stuffing, and copious amounts of Shiraz? An elaborately set dinner table centred with a huge turkey, silly hats, a gift or two? A sprinkling of snow? (okay, we live in the tropics, that was going a little far).

Skip forward a few hours and we are standing in an airplane hanger, the sound of rain on the corrugated iron drowning out the tinny radio.

A gathering of salty sea dogs and sailors welcomed us, the host (our friend Joe) drinking white wine out of a coffee mug. Surrounded by sails and sawdust (it is his sailmaking studio) we ate pecan pie, and a (delicious) roast – pork, turkey and all the trimmings off paper plates. This was, I was to learn, a ‘Friendsgiving‘!

I looked around at these people, most of them I had never met before, and felt thankful for this rainy day in the Florida Keys, how I could be anywhere in the world but here I was, in a workshop with planes taking off and landing overhead, with a tummy full of turkey and a group of already new friends. Sometimes it takes the strangest of situations to make you realise how bloody lucky you are.

And the best part of the day? Deep frying the turkey! Okay, so you American’s probably won’t find this a spectacle like I did, but oh my goodness, deep frying a whole turkey, which cooked through in under 30 minutes, that is impressive. I thought back to my mothers painstaking prepping of the turkey at Christmas, followed by it’s overnight session in the oven (guess what you’re getting for Christmas, Mum). For their love of fried food, on Thanksgiving the American’s do as they do best and deep fry the whole goddamn thing!

We slipped away just as they brought out the giant Jenga, and the boy and I went home, put on pyjamas and a movie, and felt thankful for this little life we had created for ourselves.

Thanks for reading & see you next week,

Emily x

notes from the backpack


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  • Flora Baker November 27, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    Thanks so much for mentioning my article Emily! Also that Buzzfeed article is absolutely making my Sunday evening :p

    • luxurybackpack November 27, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      I laughed so much at that article, for the most part it is spot on! 🙂