THE slice of water melon was a futile gesture. Balanced on a trio of puddings, it wasn't going to cancel out the million or so calories I’d consumed. But by then I wasn’t thinking straight. I'd lost my mind to the all-inclusive buffet.

Why stop at the massive salad counter when you can move on, with a fresh plate, to all the other dishes waiting to be scooped into a pile of mismatched carbs and meats, drenched in unidentifiable rich sauces? Why call it a day because your stomach is so full you can barely move, when there are rows stretching roughly half a mile of chocolate desserts, cakes and pastries? You’ve got to have pudding - it’s inclusive!

I have been alive for half a century and, until last week, I’d never been on an all-inclusive holiday. One of the things I love about holidays is wandering through old streets, discovering pretty restaurants and sampling local cuisine. Lovely tucked-away places in little courtyards, or overlooking secluded bays, with twinkling fairy lights strewn along overhanging trees dripping with bougainvillea. Clinking glasses with locals as you’re served delicious freshly-cooked dishes from ancient recipes lovingly crafted Mediterranean mamas.

So the idea of shuffling along a buffet, in a soulless holding-pen depressingly dominated by strip lighting with a load of carb-overloading Brits didn’t really appeal. But this was a cheap and cheery week on the Costa Brava and, we told ourselves, going all-inclusive would save money. And it did - but the whole unlimited food and drink concept turned us into zombies.

As well as mountainous all-you-can-eat/go-back-for-seconds/wear-waistband-expanding-trousers buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner, our hotel offered mid-morning and evening ‘snacks’ - just in case you were peckish. In my defence, I only troubled the snacks bar once or twice, for a cup of tea. And one time I’d returned from a five-hour coastal walk, exhausted, so I deserved an all-inclusive treat.

I wasn’t so restrained at the buffet free-for-all. Breakfast was cereal, toast, eggs (Scrambled or fried? I’ll have both), mushrooms, cheese (For breakfast? Why not?) and pastries. One morning I went a bit Catalonian, rubbing olive oil and tomato into some bread...the baked beans and pasta bow-ties (Yep, pasta for breakfast) on the side let me down though.

Dinner began with soup and a roll, normally a meal in itself, but it barely touched the sides because I was already thinking ahead to the delicious salads, with tapas-style bowls of rice, olives, fish and cheese. Again, a meal in itself. By this point I was nicely full, but that didn’t stop me moving on to the cooked food because, well, it was there. I’d fill my plate with something resembling paella from a big pan, accompanied by pasta, a smattering of greens, pizza, chips and, ooh, is that patatas bravas? I’m not proud of myself.

The drinks were free too, but we were so worn out from the buffet we didn’t have the energy to glug our body weight in booze. A couple of cocktails was about my limit.

They say you consume 5,000 calories on the first day of an all-inclusive holiday. Shameful, really. At least I didn’t go back for seconds - and I witnessed plenty of folk who did.

Would I do it again? Occasionally, yes. It wasn’t exactly local cuisine, but it was cheap as chips.