Is it a good idea to go on holiday with another family? Reader Alan Gardiner has written asking my opinion. Alan, the short answer is no – unless you're a saint who loves all children, genuinely enjoys cooking and cleaning up for 13 people and is absolutely fine with sleeping in the pokiest room while everyone else gets luxury en suites. (Why is it always me?) The other thing that only saints are capable of is organising the darned thing: think months – years – of full-time research, discussion and negotiation.
But if you still insist on doing it, I recommend finding someone else to shoulder all that hard work. Last month saw the launch of a company which dedicates itself to co-ordinating large group holidays. Pure Escapes (0800 6122 907; pureescapes.com) says its raison d'être is to make it easy peasy for groups wishing to holiday together. They'll organise flights, transfers and accommodation, and allow everyone to book and pay individually – so there's no quibbling over the bill.
It has selected grand properties in France, Spain and Italy sleeping up to 24, including an alluring Spanish retreat set in 1,800 acres with mountain views and some lovely old Tuscan farmhouses.
But get this. The best bit is that the company will lay on all sorts of extras, including cleaning, catering, and babysitting. Well, it's certainly sold itself to me. Perhaps they'll even put someone else in the poky room.