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.
We have been to Australia several times to see family and are aware of the rigorous rules about bringing in food stuffs that could carry germs etc.
Well, here on the Spanish peninsular, a Brexit ruling imposed between Spain and Gibraltar, was reportedly enforced upon a family the other week when they decided to bring certain foods across the border.
Shopping at the only large supermarket there, Morrisons, as they have frequently, they were stopped at the border by customs officials to find – and surrender – two tins of corned beef, a piece of enclosed beef, a turnip and some parsnips.
The family were held in the customs hall for over an hour as their car was searched. They were interrogated as if they were importing drugs!
Some years ago we used to take the one hour trip down to Gib, enter the half mile loop queue and join the 15,000 – mainly Spanish workers – to get to the checkpoint. This could sometimes take two hours.
In the early 90s Morrisons was the only place we could get popular UK foods and, if we could park the car, we always stayed a while to visit the miles of caves, meet the Barbary apes and look round the dozens of duty-free shops.
We now get all we need on the mainland from the multi-European outlets.
The Rock was occupied by a mixture of nations including Muslims before being overtaken by the Spanish. In 1704 Admiral Sir George Rooke captured the Rock on behalf of the British during The War of Spanish Succession.
A treaty was formally ceded by the then Spanish government under the Treaty of Utrecht. This iconic, and controversial six square km of limestone has been a thorn in the side of Spain who have wanted it back for almost 320 years. It has been dramatically extended into the sea as it became overcrowded.
There have been frequent meetings between government heads to try to retrieve it, or to agree a joint ownership, but two referendums proved overwhelmingly that the residents wanted it to stay a British Crown Colony.
Further meetings are likely to take place, once new governments have been elected in both Gibraltar and Spain.
During the Second World War the Rock, on the Mediterranean Sea, proved to be strategically invaluable to Winston Churchill and allies who was keen to keep the land.
After listening to superstitions ‘if the apes leave the Rock, then the Brits will also go!’ Churchill made sure that even during the war, the ape numbers were kept up.
Inside the labyrinth of caves, all hand excavated, mainly by slave labour, there are true to life exhibitions of bedraggled groups near the exterior gun holes with samples of meagre meals these men survived on whilst at work. There is one very large theatre where concerts and meetings are held.
Finally, like any good citizen, I went to the post office to obtain an emissions disc to display on the windscreen of our old Ford Focus (we’ve had from new).
The discs are compulsory in 2024 but the Post Office lady said: ‘Sorry your car is too old – no disc!’ So from January we will not be able to enter any town in the car with over 50,000 inhabitants!
READ MORE: Catch up on Brian’s back catalogue of blogs HERE
And a rather morbid, but startling fact about fatal accidents here – should a person become fatally injured whilst involved in an accident on roads here, the body cannot be moved until a coroner has been to the scene and give permission for its removal. Even if an ambulance is in attendance.
We know several who have seen unfortunate people lying on a motorway for hours, waiting the coroner as traffic builds up.
Finally, finally – I’m recovering nicely after a little op and I’d just like to say ‘thank you’ to my wife Elaine for her care.