I haven’t been on holiday with my sister for a very long time - in fact since an ill-fated family trip to Portugal in the middle of summer many years ago which almost ended in bloodshed when the family-sized saloon we had been due to hire, turned out to be the Portuguese equivalent of a Mini.

Added to the fact that it was the country’s hottest summer for years and the car had no air conditioning, by the time we reached our house - which was also not air-conditioned, the four of us pretty much hated each other - a situation which lasted for the entire two weeks.

When we got home my parents bought a campervan and vowed never to take their offspring away again.

While they eventually relented and we did enjoy many holidays with them separately...my sister and I have never sallied forth together since.

In fairness, it’s not because we still harbour grudges from that fortnight - although I always feel resentful when I hear the words ‘piri piri chicken’ for some reason lost in the mists of time - but simply because the opportunity has never arisen

While we have been away for weekends and the odd city break we’ve never taken the plunge and booked anything longer....until now.

“Wouldn’t it be lovely to book a big old farmhouse in the middle of the French countryside,” said my sister one evening as we sat in the garden sipping a glass of wine.

“It would,” I replied. “We could do this the whole time and not have to worry about that big black cloud which looks like it might dump a month’s worth of rain on us at any moment.

“We could sit around and you could learn to cook French food and barbecue stuff and make pizzas...it would be brilliant.”

“What about me?” asked The Mother.

“You could do the cooking and barbecue stuff as well,” said my sister, warming to the idea that if she took enough people away with her, she’s never have to see the kitchen.

“I don’t know if I want to come away with you lot,” said The Mother, obviously making a mental note to check if her passport was still valid.

Two weeks later my sister, put a message on our family group chat.

“Farmhouse booked. You all owe me lots of money!” 

Thankfully we have plenty of time to get used to the idea before the fateful day of departure arrives.

“What are you worried about?” said the housemate. “The flight is only short so you won’t be frantic about that!”

“You’ve never been on holiday with my sister before,” I explained.

“She’s a disaster magnet. We’ve driven all over America without incident - she was in Africa for two days and she broke her back!”

“She’s been robbed, stranded, delayed...you name a holiday disaster and she’s had it!”

“Don’t be daft,” she said. “It’ll be fine.”

Two days later came another message from my sister who had Channel hopped for a long weekend.

“Guess what! The French air traffic controllers are on strike and our flight has been cancelled and there’s not another one out of this area until the end of the week so we’re stuck in France,” she announced.

“We’ve booked the extra nights in the cottage but only brought my Dora the Explora backback with me and I’ve only got three pairs of knickers!”

I looked at the housemate with a smug ‘I told you so’air.

“And so it starts,” I said.