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.

We all make mistakes in life, some bigger than others. This piece briefly outlines the biggest project in my life which caused Elaine and me years of stress and worry here in sunny Spain.

We left one of our last pubs – The Royal Oak, Huddersfield – in 1999 and came to settle on the Costa del Sol in our spacious apartment.

Not content with hours of free time we took on a cabaret bar in Benalmadena, and also I wrongly and foolishly persuaded Elaine for us to sell the apartment and buy a plot of land, complete with project to build a large villa.

Oh boy! I did not realise the myriad of problems the build threw up – the mountain of paperwork, relentless laws and regulations and that was barely the half of it.

READ MORE: Catch up on Brian’s life and times here

After a year of headaches the architect condemned the half-built villa and walked off site!

Now, left with a build that no one wanted, I can recall walking in the rain through Los Boliches with plans under my arm, hoping to persuade another architect to take it on.

A sympathetic but emphatic NO was the outcome of a meeting on site. By sheer chance I bumped into the company owner who sold us the land and he asked how it was going. Shocked and surprised at the outcome and, at a meeting amid the sad looking project, he agreed to demolish it, re-build up to first level for free and complete the building plus 20%, with Spanish pros and architect back on board.

Brian got the builders in and still shudders at the memory

Our next life-savers were our best mates – Allen and Elaine Conroy – who offered for us to stay and look after their beautiful villa nearby and care for their dog Topaz, whilst they worked in the Middle East.

Also, we had the tireless help from the multi-skilled builder – who had just moved over from Huddersfield – Alan Dean.

Running short of funds we continued to work on the villa for seven years, Elaine steadily and tastefully furnishing the interior and I worked in brutal temperatures (often without creams or protection) learning many more skills than my original job as an electrician. Terracing, tiling, balustrading and wall building became second nature after a while.

Years afterwards I suffered with basal cell carcinoma – skin cancer, which I have now just about cleared up and, of course, never go out unless fully protected.

The 2008 financial crash did not help when trying to sell the villa, but eventually a Swedish family came along and snapped it up. We now have a lovely apartment in a rural location outside Fuengirola.

A Spanish dream…eventually

Meanwhile, as I take a breath from those heartbreaking times, we hear that the steady build-up of tourists coming here is increasing with little or no hold-ups at airport check points. Some are not even being asked for PCR tests etc.

A couple of friends who have decided to sell up here and return to the UK were met with several requests for documents and on arrival had a red spot stamped in their passports. Red spot? No idea.

Until next time…