Former Huddersfield gymnast and landlord Brian Hayhurst has lived in Spain for many years with wife Elaine.
In his latest insight into life there he reveals what can happen when it starts to rain and how the Spanish will celebrate Halloween.
After the hottest summer on record creating havoc with devastating fires, Andalucia’s heavens opened torrentially in early September turning streets into rivers and causing many fatalities along a lengthy stretch of coastal Spain between Fuengirola and Alicante.
And Malaga airport did not escape the massive deluge and was shut down, with flights having to be diverted and the main artery road leading to it was flooded, causing havoc for would be travellers stranded in vehicles, some having muddy water halfway up their doors!
Prior to this unexpected downpour, Malaga airport had its best August ever with 1.7 million passengers using it. This monolithic building with extremely high ceilings is quite new, but alas the roof leaks profusely, even after a small shower turning the beautiful shiny tiled floors into a skating rink. The authorities are being criticised by the Air Traffic Controllers Union USCA for not making use of the second new runway. This modern new runway was opened in 2012 but has only been used 1% since then. It looks great from the air but is hardly ever used. From what we have heard this is due to maintenance and running costs.
This does not make sense as planes are stacked in the sky or held on the tarmac waiting to take off, and with more and more tourists coming to the region they will have to make use of it soon, if only on safety grounds.
It really is booming on the Costa del Sol with tourists and resident ex-pats enjoying better facilities and properties up for grabs now due to the favourable exchange rates. Also of course, the weather is generally sunny over 300 days per year.
Maybe it’s the Mediterranean lifestyle and diet or maybe something in the water, but a recent study funded by The Bill Gates Foundation has revealed that people living here can now expect to live until they are 82 or more. It reported that Spain sits 13th worldwide, with Andorra in the lead (83.9 years) then Japan at 83.3. The UK life expectancy is 81.5 years compared to 76 years in 1990.
As the annual fiestas held in each town up and down this busy coast come to an end the kids are preparing for another fun filled event – Halloween. This much loved day is enjoyed by all children from babes in prams to teens, all dressed in remarkable costumes of witches, ghouls and skeletons.
On October 31 they flood into bars, restaurants and onto the beach, rattling tins and soaking up any loose change you wish to offer. We always go out with a pocket full of change in exchange for a trick or treat. But for adults this three day event is not seen as a holiday, although Spain closes down on November 1 (All Saints Day). It is known as El Dia de los Muertos, the day of the dead. It’s about honouring the dead plus celebrating the continuity of life. Families gather on November 1 at the grave or a compartment in a wall at the cemetery holding a loved one’s ashes and sit to eat and drink but also having brought holy water and flowers. The streets around the cemeteries are blocked with traffic as more groups flood in to rejoice and socialize.
Elaine and I have quite a number of UK friends who also live here on the Costa and we often meet up at charity events or have birthday bashes etc. One such couple, Allen and Elaine Conroy from Huddersfield have been buddies for over half a century and when they are not playing their new found addiction – golf – they frequently help to raise much needed cash for sick or maltreated animals, especially dogs.
The couple have lived in several areas of Huddersfield and ended up at Ainley Top near the Nags Head pub before moving abroad for decades.
Allen spent his youth in Almondbury and Elaine in Netherton.
This ever generous pair decided to hold a large party in the garden of their stunning villa with live music by the top band here called Echoes of the 60s on a brilliant stage built by Allen with special lighting effects. But this charity event in aid of abandoned dogs had to be called off when a miserable, disgruntled neighbour decided to cowardly ‘denounce’ them. They only found out on returning from a trip to Dubai when the Guardia Civil informed them it cannot go ahead, despite a hog roast and masses of food had been arranged – all free for those 80 plus guests.
Devastated but undeterred, Allen and Elaine transferred the party to a nearby hotel with its lavish poolside terraces. They paid for everyone to attend, giving them free champers on arrival, a superb three course banquet and open bar along with splendid music from the band.
The guests were merely expected to buy a raffle ticket at 10 euros for some brilliant prizes, put forth by themselves, including a Gucci watch! Over 2,000 euros was raised and everyone had a great time. We have just returned from another charity activity they put on in their garden for FAMA – a dog rescue charity – and after spending a substantial amount of their own money for food and drinks the well-attended event raised 1,300 euros.
There will be a reunion of ex Huddersfield Gym Club members and other associates in Huddersfield on October 24 and we are trying to contact a few of the remaining older ones.
They are Donald and Reg Dearlove, Keith Johnston, Gerrard Tuke and Barry Peaker.