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.
Elaine and I started our Spanish adventure back in the 1980s with a holiday visit to see Elaine’s son Simon, a musician, perform at a holiday resort.
We were temporarily hooked, not just with the climate but the laid back life – ‘mañana, mañana’ – when in those early days, everything will happen tomorrow!
We’ve been let down, ripped off and frequently disillusioned, as we steadily became involved in Spain and what it offers.
Finding someone to trust and rely upon in a foreign land where laws and rules can be complex was a nightmare.
When you first think of Spain, you are bound to associate it with sunshine and the al fresco lifestyle.
Whether it’s touring historic sites, or the rugged hills; lounging on the beach or enjoying a glass of wine on the terrace – it’s all here: Flamenco, fiestas, tapas, ferias, horses, paella and siestas.
The lifestyle in Spain is completely different to what many holidaymakers are accustomed to when living here.
The days are much longer and the culture is something you have to live with. So, if you are planning to come over and are ready to adopt this new lifestyle, why wouldn’t you? Read on.
Here are a few things we experienced in the years we’ve lived here with some reasons why we love it.
The cost of living is comparatively reasonable and the choice of food and wine is immense. There is now a good infrastructure – transport, education, healthcare with modern hospitals and clinics etc – for those who qualify.
And Spain is currently riding high with record tourism with hotels and eateries very busy, often filled up with large family gatherings who eat very late.
It’s never plain sailing here, as virtually anything remotely legal requires paperwork and documents, probably through a lawyer.
An example of bureaucracy here in Mijas Costa. You require a permit/licence for even the smallest work on a property. For example, you need permission to paint the front gate of your home!
There are several visas which allow you to stay – long or short term, but to live here you need a ‘residencia’, declare all assets and pay taxes.
A few things we just have to accept – pints of beer with huge heads on them, observing bar staff allowing the beer to run into the tray prior to catching the liquid gold, often into a warm glass!
And an order for a cup of tea might be served in a glass – piping hot and untouchable. English driving licences are only valid for six months, then a Spanish one must be obtained.
A foaming pint and a ‘cup’ of tea (right) and a tasty snack in between…
Once your car is insured anyone over 25 with a clean licence and two years’ experience can drive that car.
Driving can be pot luck, especially at roundabouts where most have a different theory with approach and exiting. And whoever invented pedestrian crossings adjacent every roundabout needs to give their head a shake.
Spain is now coming to terms with solar panels which should now be part of a new build. Let’s face it, with over 300 days of sunshine per year, it would be daft not utilising it.
The workforce on any project will always take a 30-minute break around 10.30am. They huddle in the shade to feed and refresh. Locals like churros (sweet bun) and hot chocolate in the morning.
The traditional three-hour siesta for shops etc has now been dropped and most open similar to other Euro countries.
According to ‘International Living’ magazine, parts of Southern Spain are among the five most favourable places to live and retire in Spain. So, give it a try? Working and property purchase requires several more pages.
During our holiday in the UK, we were fortunate to make a family visit to Edinburgh at the time when Huddersfield-born Kay Dyson was performing her magic show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Kay was a gymnast in her younger days and was Examiner SuperYouth Champion back in the 1980s.
Following her gymnastics career under the late Janet Fidler, she went on to work with the world famous Cirque du Soleil as a much respected daredevil trapeze artist.
After this, Kay became interested in the world of magic, and it did not take her long to be accepted as a member of the Magic Circle to become an in demand international act under the name of Miss Magic.
She now displays her talents, including a mysterious mind reading show, to audiences on TV, at corporate events and private parties worldwide.
We saw Kay with members of our family at her very first show in Edinburgh and afterwards met up with Kay and her partner Marcus in the bar.
If you get the chance to go to one of Kay’s shows, please do.
READ MORE: Catch up on Brian previous blogs HERE