I've been on a training course this week - cloistered in a hotel near Colchester. Seventy-two hours away from family and friends, seventy-five miles from Shoreham.
While the minutes ticked by in north Essex, the world changed around me. Snow fell constantly; it accumulated in piles and drifts; it bent the tree branches with its weight; it slowly transformed the cars outside into indistinguishable white mounds. The flakes swirled and floated past the windows of the conference room.
I watched the news and weather reports on TV in between seminars and 'case-plays'. I listened to the stories of stranded train travellers, of lorries abandoned at the sides of motorways, of schools and offices closed, and of farmers transporting midwives by tractor to the bedsides of women in labour. The whole country seemed to be sliding to a halt.
As time passed, I began to feel less and less connected to reality. I wasn't sure if it was just the wintry blizzard outside that made me feel so cut off. Perhaps it was the faded '70s decor of the hotel, or the Christmas menu complete with crackers and paper hats, that greeted us in the restaurant.
I don't know if it was the experience of spending so much time with people I barely know, or the strange jargon-filled language that peppered our earnest discussions, but gradually I felt as though I'd lost my centre of gravity.
I've never experienced homesickness before, I haven't known that gut-wrenching pull. In the years since we came to Shoreham, I haven't realised just how much the rolling green hills of the valley and the messy cosiness of our house, have taken me up and enfolded me.
More than that, I haven't noticed how the comforting arms of my big kindly northerner, and the non-stop singing chatter of my dancing daughter have given me a sense of belonging.
Without them I am lost.