making sardine sandwiches

All our lives we went camping every holidays.  My Mum liked nothing better than a caravan holiday.  And I can understand it. I love camping too.  

Because once you are there EVERYONE can relax (Mums’ too).  In a caravan there’s just a couple of beds to tidy, a tiny floor to sweep and the housework is done for the day.  Well, maybe you might have to put a load in the washing machine every couple of days, but you carry it to the camp laundry then you transfer it to the dryer and voila.  Done. 

But of course, the set up and pack up for camping is hard work.  Everyone knows this.  

When we were young even though we had a caravan there were still tents to put up, bikes to get out, clotheslines to erect, pergolas to set up etc.  And we all had to work hard for an hour or two.

Well nearly all of us. 

For some reason whilst Elise and I hammered in tent pegs and blew up matresses with foot pumps Merryn, as the ‘spoilt’ younger child had her own ‘special duties’.  Her job invariably involved poking around in the caravan cupboards coming up with something to eat. To keep us all going. An important job – we didn’t think so.  And hello sardine sandwiches! 

At the time I was always so jealous.  Why was I working hard?  Why was she just making lunch?  Life was so unfair!  In hindsight I suspect it was a ploy to keep the youngest child busy and ‘contributing’ but pretty much out of the way.  

Sorry Mez, I think it’s true. So maybe Mum and Dad didn’t actually love you more than us? 

I have been thinking about sardine sandwiches this week as our fence has been built.  

Because, although I had every INTENTION of building it myself (with some help from Dad) the reality is that my job was, in the end, the equivalent of making sardine sandwiches. 

I am not complaining mind you. Dad wanted to do it himself.  Really. 

As I accepted the reality that Dad was not going to part with his tools my  “What can I do to help?’ turned in to ‘Would you like another cup of tea?” and ‘What can I get you for lunch?’.  I think I even offered sardine sandwiches one day! 

Look, I did go to Bunnings and buy the materials and lifted 8 bags of concrete into the car.  And I got the timber down from the mezanine there, and organised for it to be cut to the right size and manhandled it in to the car.  And got all the right stuff.  

But by the time I got back Dad had dug 2 of the 4 holes.  And I’d only dug half a hole in the whole morning before he arrived. 

And I did help Dad measure up all the rails and mark them up for cutting, but by the time I had organised the kids after school and got afternoon tea for the in-laws who popped in, Dad had finished sawing, chiselling and attaching the railings to the fence posts. 

And I did help hold the pickets in place so that the spacing was even.  But truth be known I don’t think I actually touched a drill or a saw in the whole process. 

Although I did use a hammer!  I used it to put up the guide lines.  And I did a good job of that.  The fence is straight!  And I emptied the quickset concrete into the holes which was hard work.  Those 20 kilogram bags are heavy! 

So at the end of it, here I am, feeling a little guilty that I saved $1600 by getting my Dad doing manual labour for 3 days while I did the cooking. 

But he wanted to right?  And he did an ace job!   

look, we even managed to keep the lavender bush – no tradie would ever have been able to do that!


 And I am SOOO pleased with the outcome. 

But my question is, can I claim that I ‘built the fence myself’?  I think it might be a bit of a long shot … What do you think?


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