With four sisters and two (living) brothers, I usually spend a lot of time with my sisters rather than with my brothers. There are just so many more opportunities to do things with my sisters, from watching Jane Austen movies together to dedicating whole days to art projects. Spending time with my brothers is far rarer, usually confined to watching a superhero movie together in the evening, or taking the occasional trip to the beach on a warm day.
Sometimes however, I get the chance to do something unusual with my brothers. My older brother Callum has been building a fence. It involves big sheets of metal, steel posts, large amounts of concrete, power tools and no little amount of fun. I very much wanted to help, but sadly assumed that no self-respecting fence builder would want a younger sister hanging round attempting to help.
Then Callum popped his head round my bedroom door, safety googles and ear muffs in hand. “Have you got some time to help me?” he asked.
Well, of course I could squeeze that into my not-very-busy schedule somewhere. In a matter of moments I stood outside, pinning down a lively sheet of fence panel while Callum cut through it with an angle grinder, an oversized pair of plastic goggles sliding down my nose. Millions of sparks flew everywhere, bouncing down my arms, flying through Callum’s hair and showering all over the ground. We screwed posts and rails together with a power drill, fitted the panels and secured the whole thing together. There, fence finished.
But making the fence was the easy part. Our fence has two gates of different sizes, one for each side of the house, and we’d have to build them both from scratch. Which wasn’t too bad. No, it was hanging the gates that would be most difficult. Why, we would have to drill into the house itself for the hinges! Callum and I exchanged nervous looks as he set the drill to the wall. The first puff of brick dust floated out. One, two, three four holes. Four screws. Now we were ready to hang the gate. Just as the sun set. The gate did not get hung that day. But that was ok. That left plenty more fun for another day.
What did I learn from building a fence? Plenty of things. It turns out that fence building is most educational. I learnt that building fences uses a lot of maths, and if you’re not careful, you will end up making mistakes and having to buy more screws. Also it’s a good idea to work out exactly what you’re going to need before you go to the hardware store. Otherwise you’re going to have to go back and get everything else. I learnt that angle grinders smell like sparklers when they’re cutting through metal. I never knew that. The sparks also burn if you get too many of them in one spot. And most importantly, spending time with my brother is very fun, no matter what we’re doing.