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 week for Huddersfield Hub.

As predicted, following last Monday’s so-called Freedom Day, the frantic holiday bookings for Spain began immediately.

There was a 400% spike in bookings for flights to Spain from the UK which tripled in the number of flights to Spanish holiday hotspots, especially Mallorca.

And this is reflected in the packed beaches with families here lapping up the perfect weather conditions.

This wonderful country with all its traditions and deep religious foundations is a great place to live, but sadly there are still stories of people living a nightmare due to illegal advice with their properties.

Probably the most famous case was the Priors in Almeria whose beloved villa they had all their savings tied up in, had to be demolished, and they still live in their garage 10 years on.

If you want to live the Spanish dream take proper advice before purchasing property

Last month Andalucia was once more disgraced for allowing Gurney Davey to build a villa near Tolox, and after ongoing legal wrangling – 17 years on, he was made to hire a digger costing 1,600 euros and pull his beloved home down, just weeks after his wife died of bowel cancer.

Gurney helped with the build which cost 150,000 euros and was devastated to learn that it had to come down.

His property was one of 350 given illegal planning permission by former mayor Juan Vera, who ended up in prison.

Although somewhat relieved it’s all over, Gurney is now living in a converted van on the land which he still legally owns.

READ MORE: Brian Hayhurst has endured his own Spanish property nightmare

And briefly this week, British pensioner Margaret Townley had a similar experience with her 300,000 euro retirement home in Salobrena, Granada.

Margaret’s boundary wall collapsed due to heavy rain, so she hired an adjacent neighbour – a builder – to rebuild it – badly, with no foundations.

The wall fell down again and she tried to sue him. Alas he died and left his wife only a pile of debts!

READ MORE: Missed one of Brian’s weekly columns? Catch up here.

Whilst unable to get back due to the pandemic and continue dealing with the problem, a judge ruled Margaret was responsible for the wall and incredibly the Motril Court Judge ordered the house to be sold at auction and the proceeds used to rebuild the wall.

The sickening irony was that, the only bidder was the son of the builder who created a company to buy it for the hugely under market value of 65,000 euros. Margaret condemned the judge for not dealing fairly and properly during her absence.

These are examples of the seedier side of this sunny and friendly country, but for those contemplating buying a property or plot – get the right advice from recommended lawyers, come over frequently first, meet people in groups and clubs and think carefully before you sign.

For those with families here’s some ideas (image above). One which we have enjoyed in the past (for all age groups and abilities) is the Aventura Treetop Park, Elviria, not far from Marbella.

Ultra safe, the different level of adventure circuits amongst the trees varies from simple 3 metres above ground with fun challenges for children, to SAS-style adrenalin-busting tests of nerve.