Barbecues, Bumper-To-Bumper Traffic & Boozy City Centres … Yep, it's time for another Bank Holiday! 

Bank Holidays are becoming like buses … you wait ages and ages for one to come along, then all of a sudden five arrive at once. The sudden proliferation of tightly-packed UK Bank Holidays in 2011, of course, is a bit of a fluke. If it weren't for the moveable feast that is Easter, and the decision of one particular young couple to get married on the last Friday in April then our Bank Holidays would have been as sparse as every other year. 

As it happens, here in the UK, we are quite badly served by bank and public holidays. At least when you compare us with other countries. Places like Malaysia, India, Egypt and Thailand have well over a dozen a year, Sri Lanka has more than twenty, while the English and Welsh languish well behind with just eight. Those in Scotland and Northern Ireland, thanks to their independent spirit and determination to celebrate their saints' days, fare a little better.

But, when you study the countries with frequent days off you notice something. None have the unpredictable or changeable weather we enjoy in the UK. So, assuming we had another three Bank Holidays, would we have the kind of weather we'd need to enjoy them? Because, as we all know, the chances of one of those perfect British spring or summer days actually coinciding with one of our few Bank Holidays are extraordinarily narrow. Indeed, think of Bank Holiday weather and you automatically think of rain. Or high winds. I lost count of the number of childhood Bank Holidays spent watching raindrops trickle down the outside of the windowpanes.

Perhaps it's the very nature of the British weather and the sparsity of our Bank Holidays that makes our attitude towards them so extraordinary. While the residents of other countries seem to take their days off as they come, here in the UK we turn into Bank Holiday maniacs, determined to do something with our holiday, whether or not the weather or our fellow Brits comply.

And on those rare occasions when the weather does decide to cooperate with our ambitions, then we get even more desperate to make something of the day. For many, this means spending a weekend away from home, for others just a day out. But, if you've ever been foolish enough to venture out onto an A-road or, Heaven forfend, a motorway over a Bank Holiday, you'll know that the rest of the country is doing the same thing too! With roads clogged, you'll soon realise it's going to take you three times as long to get there as you planned. And that, when you do get to your chosen destination, every car park within three miles will be full and you face a long trek on foot.

In fact most things out and about on a Bank Holiday seem to take an age. You have to queue for everything from ice creams to public loos. And heaven help you when you want lunch. Because every restaurant, pub, cafe and chippy for miles will be packed to capacity and you'll wish you'd brought a picnic. Then again, when you do bring a picnic along, finding somewhere to settle down and enjoy it just adds another stress to the day. Because every picnic bench, seat, rock or patch of grass will already be occupied. Then, when you've finally had enough, you've the journey home to endure.

And this is why, despite news reports to the contrary, most people prefer to spend their Bank Holidays closer to home. But we still want to do something special, something different, so we head off into town. Now, I don't know about your city, but the last time I ventured downtown in my hometown on a Bank Holiday, I got quite a shock. I was expecting a jolly mood with families mingling enjoying each other's company. Perhaps stopping for a bite to eat in a lovely restaurant. What I got was a city centre teeming with people – most of whom had been imbibing since mid-morning, crowds of beer-swilling and rowdy lads gathering around pub doorways and inebriated young girls tottering between the traffic on heels so high they must have struggled to walk in them even before they touched a drop of the hard stuff. It just wasn't what I'd been hoping for. So I vowed, from that point on, to spend Bank Holiday weekends in the safety and comfort of my own home.

For many of us, Bank Holidays spent at home mean barbecues. And, assuming the weather holds, they're as pleasant a way to spend an afternoon as any. Everyone's as chilled as the chardonnay, friends and neighbours drift by and you can all kick back and relax. Until, that is, the neighbour across the way decides that, since the weather's okay, and the wind's blowing away from their house, today is a perfect day for a bonfire. And that wind, the one that is so conveniently blowing acrid smoke away from their house, is even now blasting it across your garden where it hangs in the air, coating everything in a delightful dusting of charred rubber and ashy dust. 

Often, of course, several neighbours are holding their own barbecues at the same time. And that's great. No-one's in a hurry, everyone's happy. You've all carefully made sure the sound of your own barbecue party playlist isn't drifting too far from home, but not everyone is so careful. Just as your sultry, Latin-inspired selection is soothing away the stresses of life, your neighbour's thumping bass-driven favourites begin to drown out everything. And the mood is ruined in an instant.

Even if you're not intending to spend much time out of doors, your plans can still be spoiled. We have one particular near-neighbour who, come Bank Holiday, likes to hold a party. And when I say party, I mean a huge, inside-outside grand affair. Dozens of guests come from all over town and it seems like every house in the street has a visiting car in front of it. There's a giant barbecue down one side of the garden, a children's bouncy castle in the middle and enough seats to furnish Westminster Abbey. But it's after dark that the party really starts to swing. Because this family has outdoor gas heaters, giant fire pits and a garden lighting system that wouldn't be out of place at Blackpool Illuminations. They party hard, these neighbours of ours, and, before you think I'm being a grumpy old so-and-so listen to this: the 'highlight' of the day is a loud and enthusiastic karaoke party that goes on late into the night. And unless you too have had to listen to a drunken rendition of "We Are The Champions" at 2am, then you've really no right to judge, okay?

Yes, the problem with Bank Holidays is that they seem to bring out the worst in us. The siege mentality, the swarming instinct, the hedonistic attitude. And when you weigh it up, it's probably a good thing we don't enjoy Sri Lanka's 26 public holidays!