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 every fortnight for Huddersfield Hub.

Our hearts go out to all the aged, ill and less fortunate in the UK who are struggling with the weather, the cost of living and industrial disputes.

Everyone would agree that the Costa del Sol is seen as a place for sun, fun and international friendship.

Thinking of all those at home in uncertain circumstances I find it difficult writing about happenings here during these unpleasant times. But I can only send what is occurring as best I can.

Like England fans, the Spanish have got over the losses in Qatar and look forward to their next internationals. It was reported that the Spanish coach Luis Enrique – now departed – “oversaw an unbalanced and young squad, incapable of getting beyond the last 16.” These were Press reports, not me.

There are dozens of top class restaurants here accepting full houses for the festivities, offering sumptuous cuisine, fine wines and classy entertainment. That shows there are still lots able to afford Christmas fare.

And there are other indications that some are prepared to enjoy events here such as Sierra Nevada ski resort, swarming with skiers, which has broken all-time records for long-term ski passes.

Also a visit to Fuengirola by Robbie Williams on June 15th next year will attract thousands.

The unexpected tornado last week caused much damage on the coast, mostly felt at the new extensions to Costa del Sol hospital near Marbella, where panels and large sections were ripped off, and will hold up procedures there.

The deluge of much-needed rain has begun to replenish reservoirs here.

Rain, however, has not prevented local councils from installing the most elaborate and imaginative lighting creations, reflected currently on the wet pavements, brightening up the streets and shopping complexes for young and old.

Families can meander amongst beautiful displays and enjoy the various markets, some set up by charities.

Christmas here is a magical time with celebrations, joy and deep-rooted traditions, unique to Spain.

Nativity scenes (Belens) are seen in every town and village depicting, besides the usual crib etc, the Three Kings especially Baltasar who, it is said, arrives on a donkey with gifts for all.

Prior to this on the 22nd annually, is the Christmas national lottery (El Gordo – The Fat One) which dishes out 2.4 billion euros.

Millions take part and sit around TVs waiting for results. House and tree decorations are aplenty but it’s just not the same when the bright sun shines!

Christmas Eve for Spaniards is a most important family gathering for a huge meal which can last for hours, ending with an array of sweets including turrón, a kind of nougat. Of course, the younger end will party their own way, as will Brits and other Europeans.

Christmas Day, weather permitting, folks will take a stroll, then for devout Catholics the important vigil is a midnight mass with prayers and carols accompanied by guitars, drums and tambourines.

Most will then celebrate with a never-ending festive meal when some gifts are exchanged amongst mainly adults.

The following day is not known as Boxing Day here but it revolves around football when La Liga starts a new season. It is not usually a public holiday, and lots will work as normal.

READ MORE: Catch up with Brian’s previous blogs HERE

New Year’s Eve is celebrated big time with much music and the traditional midnight grapes. One grape for each stroke at midnight is said to bring health and wealth.

All children look forward to January 6th when the Three Kings bring gifts. Massive street parades take place, when sweets are cast freely to crowds of youngsters. Father Christmas (Papa Noel) is just gaining popularity in Spain.

All that’s left is to wish all readers, family and friends a wonderful Christmas and health through 2023. See you next year!