EVERY bank holiday I seem to ask myself the same question: “What am I doing here?”

There have been three so far this year and, with the exception of one, when I was at work, I have found myself in the same old bank holiday situation, either (a) at a branch of B&Q (b) in a large out-of-town shopping centre or (c) stuck in traffic on my way to one of the above.

I am not alone in this self-inflicted bank holiday misery. Speaking to friends, it’s the same scenario - “I always end up thinking it’s a day wasted,” said one.

The national picture is no different. Across the UK, visiting DIY shops is a bank holiday tradition. We have such a strong urge to take on the guise of builders/painter-decorators for the weekend that, at Easter, the NHS issue a warning, cautioning those tempted to pick up power tools to think twice, in case they end up in hospital.

Why do we do it? It’s a free day off, for pity’s sake, a day when we would ordinarily be at work. It should be spent doing something enjoyable and memorable - walking in the countryside, picnicking beside a river or visiting family and friends.

Instead we waste it doing things that give us no pleasure at all and that we could probably do at other times. My local B&Q doesn’t close until late in the evening, yet masocists like me hang on until the bank holiday weekend. For most of us, it is as though having three days off is a green light for a bumper shop in a bleak retail park or a splurge of home improvements.

Whenever I find myself in one of these places I dredge up the same excuse - that the roads will be chock-a-block on the way to the coast, to a national park, or another popular destination.

It has always puzzled me as to why so any families choose to head to holiday hotspots such as Scarborough and Filey, with hundreds across Yorkshire joining lengthy tailbacks on the A64, when there are so many lovely off-the-beaten track places to consider.

We are gluttons for punishment. Every bank holiday, groups from motoring organisations to local radio stations, warn of routes to avoid, where snarl-ups are guaranteed. Yet, from lunchtime on Friday, thousands of us head for those very places. It’s as if we take pleasure in sitting in massive tailbacks.

Bank holidays date back to a time when roads were relatively free of cars and the railway network was far more extensive. Today the car is king and we resign ourselves to hours of queuing in traffic with the promise of a packed heme park - with more queuing - or crowded beach at the end of it.

Maybe we would make better use of bank holidays if there were more of them. Along with Holland, the UK has the fewest bank holidays in Europe, with just eight. Workers in Cyprus have a staggering 15, followed by Malta and Spain with 14. Austria and Portugal's share is not to be sniffed at either, with 13. Also in the UK companies are allowed to include public holidays as part of their annual leave, so workers in the UK actually have fewer holidays than the rest of Europe.

Maybe that’s why we set about redesigning the kitchen on a bank holiday - because we have precious little time to do it the rest of the year.

I’d welcome at least one more bank holiday - in autumn or winter. At that time of year beaches and theme parks would have limited appeal, so people might use their imagination a little more and find something different to do.

So what am I doing today? I am embarrassed to admit...same old, same old…my husband is decorating so the likelihood of a trip to B&Q is almost 100 per cent. It's along the ring road, so there's the prospect of a traffic jam too. Yippee.