12 NOVEMBER 2005, Page 57

Q. My wife and I have an old and dear

friend who lives abroad. She divorced her husband some years ago and lives alone. We are both very fond of her and are usually delighted to see her whenever she is in England. My wife has a timeshare in the Lakes which we go to at the same time each year. We often invite guests who have included our friend but from time to time we do enjoy going by ourselves. This year we hoped to do this, but our friend invited herself, making it a very difficult week. Worse, she expressed the intention of joining us again next year — in spite of our pointed hints that we wanted to be by ourselves for once. How, without spoiling a valued friendship, do we make it clear that she is not wanted unless we invite her?

M.B., Warwickshire to come to you in Warwickshire for a weekend. Say that you have been planning ahead and since you have decided you are going to go to the Lakes on your own this year, you realise that you must book her in for Warwickshire or run the risk of missing out on an extended burst of her most enjoyable company.