Agony aunt: The consumption dilemma

Provisioning: Better to be open and plan than run out and be resentful.
Provisioning: Better to be open and plan than run out and be resentful. Photo: Rodger Cummins

For the past nine years we have rented a summer beach house with wine-loving friends and each couple brings a mixed case. For the past two summers our friends have been dieting and brought just a couple of bottles but their ''healthy" approach didn't last. We topped up with supplies from the local pub, where the selection is limited. Can we encourage them to face facts this year and bring enough decent wine?

Are you familiar with dessert usurpers? Offered a dessert menu at the end of a meal, they adopt a pious expression and announce they couldn't possibly eat another thing. When yours arrives, they gaze at your plate until you ask if anyone would like a taste. A parrying of spoons ensues, reducing your chocolate fondant to a scattering of crumbs and a fleeting memory.

The principle that It Doesn't Count If You Didn't Intend To Ingest It is well known to serial dieters. And also, it seems, to your holiday-house friends. A series of ''spontaneous" trips to the boozer somehow lets them off the hook.

I suggest getting in touch before the holiday to discuss provisioning for the house. That way you can get a feel for what they are planning - or not planning - to bring. If dieting is on the cards, you may lightly point out that you all always end up buying more from the pub. Unless you want your holiday tainted by ill feeling, it hardly seems worth pressing the point. Pack some interesting extra bottles as an emergency stash.