Former Huddersfield gymnast and pub landlord Brian Hayhurst and his wife Elaine are ex-pats who have lived just outside Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol for 20 years. He writes a regular blog for Huddersfield Hub.
So here we go, as we move into a new year, Elaine and I hope your festivities went to plan, and equally we hope the many troubles throughout the world will soon be resolved.
On returning from a flying Christmas visit to Huddersfield and Edinburgh, we saw first hand two contrasting issues which are affecting millions throughout the UK and Spain – houses, businesses and farms under devastating floods, whilst here in Southern Spain the drought worsens by the day.
Andalusia’s reservoirs have hit an all-time low to 20% of their capacity. And although there was some rainfall last week, the region has recorded its driest since records began – 1872.
And many feel that if persistent, heavy rains do not come soon, the usual hot summer will be devastating and could plunge the ever busy Costas into a crisis.
Restrictions are imminent, and Fuengirola will be amongst the first to turn off supplies at night. The few portable desalination plants are working flat out to attempt to satisfy the ever growing demand from visitors to the Costas.
Building goes on at pace, meanwhile. It must be dreadful for farmers trying to produce essential foodstuff without water. The only permanent desal plant is in Marbella.
All across Spain there are thousands of charities and centres looking after abandoned or abused animals, plus organisations catering for the elderly or the infirm.
There is a man here on the Costa del Sol – Alan Boardman – who has, for many years, tirelessly assisted most of these groups with financial or physical help with his enthralling walking tours raising over €16,000 for charities, quizzes and much more.
Currently Alan, along with his ever supportive wife Jenny, are in Gambia using their holiday to hand out much needed pens, pencils and spectacles to pupils who are desperate to be educated in a country which is amongst the poorest in the world.
‘The Eyedrop Campaign’ they set up in December had a massive response from thousands who gave freely unwanted spectacles and stationery items, filling four large cases!
They met with a Gambia ophthalmologist, Dr Adams, who explained there are serious eyesight issues to be dealt with and the glasses, which are unaffordable, are of great value to these youngsters. They toured many schools handing out educational gifts.
Meanwhile, here are a few observations of happenings:
* The relaxation of the 90-day rule which is particularly affecting British homeowners in Spain, is definitely moving forward, albeit slowly, with Spain set to follow France’s decision to relax its 90-day stay rule.
* Last week Andalusia banned mobile phones in all schools. For most young pupils I feel that this will feel like losing a limb! We shall see what a reaction this decision might have.
* After more than a dozen attempts over 24 years to produce a plan to link Malaga with Marbella by rail, there is one that looks like it might go ahead. Not enough space here allows me to show the past coastal plans. The current track, used very much daily, ends in Fuengirola. So from there it is hoped the route will go inland to Alhaurin and Coin and return down to the coast to Marbella. This will create thousands of more jobs as the numbers eventually flood in.
* Plans are in hand to expand the already record-breaking Malaga Airport to accommodate the anticipated future hoards of holidaymakers and visitors.
* And face masks are now mandatory in hospitals and clinics throughout Spain.
Bring on the rain here and let’s look forward to an enjoyable summer.
And finally, may I wish my lovely wife Elaine a happy birthday – today.
READ MORE: Catch up on Brian’s previous blogs HERE