Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'I'm going on holiday again – but there's a catch...'

In The Red
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I'm going on holiday. Yes, I know – for the second time this summer. Extravagant? That, or just plain opportunistic. I'm not, as it happens, paying for this one. Not because I'm getting some spoilt journalist freebie, or because I've won some scratch-card competition. Nope. I am, ahem, going away with the parents. And I can't wait.

It has been a long, long time since I went on holiday with my family. After all, you can't freeload for ever, can you? Even my little sister – six years my junior – has grown out of it. She stopped going last year and has no plans to return to the tradition. Well, not until she turns 25 and realises that pride in her independence is far less rewarding than 10 days spent lying by the pool and topping up her tan at almost no personal expense. Which, the week after next, is precisely what I'll be doing.

First, some context: my mum booked the cottage in which we'll be staying some time ago, knowing that it had a spare room but not thinking much of it. She texted me a little while later, asking if I had any interest in taking it. Seeing as she'd already paid, and she and Dad were going to be staying there regardless, I wouldn't need to fork out for my accommodation. At this point it was early spring: still cold, the sky still clouded over, and me feeling more than a little exhausted from excessive marathon training and insufficient vitamin D. Exhausted and – oh, yes – broke.

Now what would you do? Act like a teenager with an independence complex and decline my mother's kind offer? Or gratefully accept her generosity and start daydreaming about your mid-summer week in Ibiza? (Yes, Ibiza!) Slightly embarrassingly, my sister has chosen not to break her habit of independence. She is rather less shamefully freebie-grabbing than me. Give her a few more years.

There are other reasons to look forward to my trip. I never see my parents for long stretches of time. Like me, they live in London, but their proximity hasn't translated into regular and frequent visits. The city's like that. As the crow flies, they may only be six-odd miles away but by Tube it takes a good hour and a quarter to get to theirs. Sitting just the three of us on the White Isle, things should be different. Of course, I'll need to think of some (affordable) way to thank them, but in the meantime I'm planning my tan. Ibiza, here I come.

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