Sardines on Toast

I began to pack for my trip today.

Having always considered myself to be an exceptionally light packer, I have thus far not been daunted by the prospect of fitting four months worth of Italy and Uganda into under 100 pounds of luggage. Yet looking out over the expanse of my bed littered with clothes, my trunk already laden and weighted heavily with school books, I came to the conclusion that while I may be a weathered traveler and no stranger to packing itself, I have been under a great illusion.

I am not such a light packer.

Sitting back on top of the wreckage of my bed and listening to the melodic notes of coldplay singing from my laptop (which I also need to pack) I pondered my disillusionment. To my chagrin, I realized exactly why I was under the impression that I was a light packer; most of my traveling has been with my family. Between my two sisters and I we have three times the wardrobe we originally packed ourselves at our disposal, because we share all our clothes anyway. (One of the many advantages of having three sisters all the same size) Presently I am packing to go to Rome alone and have no such luxury. No sister's suitcase into which I can squeeze one last remaining article that I couldn't possibly do without (or, at least, think I can't).

It was raining off and on all day and I'd left my window open so I could hear the pitter-pattering of each drop hitting the roof and the sidewalk and the garden. Everything is so wet. Even when it isn't raining these days the air is so full of moisture that when you merely take a step outside it presses against your cheeks like damp flannel. The rain made the day chilly and I shivered as I packed and then stopped packing. Surveying the disarray I told myself that it was a much too British-feeling day to keep myself all closed up and cold in my room and this self-declared fact combined with a horrible desire on my part to never resume packing again prompted me to take drastic measures.

I broke out the sardines.

For months, I've been hoarding a tin of sardines my family send from Uganda. It was the last tin, the only tin I had. Surely, I told myself, now was as good a time as any.

Therefore taking myself down to the kitchen I made myself a proper cuppa tea, inserted two slices of hearty bread in the toaster and happily faced the sardines. Peeling back the lid of the tin and pouring out the excess brine down the sink's drain, I recalled the first time my Scottish tutor showed us how to make and eat sardines on toast to enjoy at teatime.

"Here now," she said in her soft Scottish accent that I adored, " All you do, is take a fork and smash of all the sardines in the tin, bones and all! Mash 'em to bits. There ya go. The bones are soft, you see? Just mash 'em all together till its lovely, and if yous ee some string, don't mind them, they are just he poor thing's intestines." She was very patient with us, but I cannot help but wonder if inwardly she was shaking her head and chuckling at us stupid Americans.

Remembering what she had said, I buttered my toast, and lay the mashed sardines on top of the crusty bread and pouring myself a cuppa tea, sat down at nearly half past three for the first true teatime I've had in quite a long while. It was dreary and grey outside, but I was warm and happy inside, writing this and dining on good 'ol sardines on toast with a hot cuppa tea beside the keyboard, steaming up the screen as I write.

Yes, I have no desire to attempt to deny that this is far superior to packing. 


  1. Great posts/writing Katie. Enjoy Rome and don't try pack light because North Americans never do it.
    At 20kg check-in + 7kg cabin and USD90 for every kg over that weight - only we, the rest of the world, know 'light' ;)

  2. Good post Kate. I am glad you realized your packing skills :) funny how that worked out right there, but you could still try to do it fast...


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