With temperatures in Spain and Portugal pushing towards a record-breaking 48°C (118.4°F) this weekend, former Huddersfield gymnast and pub landlord Brian Hayhurst tells what it’s like living in the heat of the Costas as an ex-pat.
Brian has lived in Spain for many years with wife Elaine but, ironically, was back in Huddersfield during last month’s heatwave.
"We happened to be in Huddersfield on what was predicted to be the hottest day of the year, and sure enough it was about the same temperature as we had left Spain.
"Here in sunny Huddersfield, visiting friends, family and attending a funeral we were surprised and delighted to see the vast array of green trees in full bloom creating canopies over many roads and in the hills around town – beautiful.
"We have fir and olive trees in Andalucía, very robust but nothing like the deep green foliage here.
"Reading reports of melting tarmac and buckling rail lines I could not help looking at how the Spanish compare. In all the years we have been in Spain we have never seen or heard of a road melting in the heat or train lines affected, despite brutal temperatures, often in excess of 40°C (104°F) which last for weeks on end.
"It is a mystery which I will investigate. And with farmers struggling to maintain crops, authorities have reassured people on the Costa del Sol that there is sufficient water in reservoirs for over a year if we are careful/sensible!
"During our earlier visits in the 80s we observed Spanish folks shielding their faces from the sun with hands or newspapers. As tourists we drenched ourselves as much as possible in the rays, obtaining the ‘healthy tan’ like you do.
"But now we are most cautious in the sun having seen what skin damage can be done with over exposure. Lots of holidaymakers will head for the beach when searing heat will produce some very red bodies.
"Hospitals and clinics are constantly reminding patients and visitors of the dangers of the sun with posters everywhere, and schools give information as part of lessons.
"In Australia it is strictly compulsory for each child to come to school with a hat and bottle of water.
"A lot of Spanish workers, particularly builders, will begin at dawn and end just after midday. They will always have hats and many with cloth protectors at the back.
"They will each have earthenware water-filled vessels coated in foam to keep it cool, and where possible try to work in the shaded areas of buildings.
"As you walk through some of the almost deserted villages on hot afternoons, people disappear inside their small houses, sometimes with shutters or curtains closed. Or the ladies might sit in sheltered areas, each with colourful hand fans constantly wafting their faces.
"All new builds in Spain will have AC (air conditioning) units fitted in living /sleeping areas and these have improved dramatically over the years with low noise and energy performance, much appreciated at sleep time.
"It might be that living in a hot climate thins the blood or encourages the body to acclimatise with the humidity and relentless heat, but somehow the Spanish people just get on with life hardly ever commenting on the heat of the day, because they have no alternative other than moving to a cooler climate."