Stuart Ashing – Going so native
The next in our series of interviews with expats in Malaga talks to Stuart Ashing who made the move to Malaga just over a decade ago. Despite a challenging and scorchingly hot start to their new life in Malaga, Stuart and his family have really found their feet. So much so that they now feel part and parcel of life in city. (And can do the Spanish shrug!)
When did you arrive in Malaga?
On one of the hottest days of the year, 5 August 2005. I drove in one day, all the way down to Malaga from Bilbao Ferry terminal with my eldest son Simon who was about 8 and a half.
I remember us vividly getting out of an air-conditioned BMW at 23 degrees into 40 degrees of searing heat at a road side restaurant for some food and drinks. Simon yelled out “Owwwww” as we got to the car, he touched the metal door handle and was almost burned by the heat on it. We settled into our hotel and my wife flew in two days later with the youngest son Alex then 5 and a half.
Why did you arrive in Malaga?
After researching southern coastal Spain, we found Malaga had the most direct connections with UK and European airports, also the longest season for English speaking tourism. Malaga Airport is important to me as I need access to various parts of the UK when I tour with my hypnosis show and visit coaching clients.
Over the last ten years I would say that delays and cancelled flights are almost non-existent. I’ve had a maximum of five delays up to two hours and one cancelled flight that was transferred to a smaller one. Perhaps I’m just lucky?
(Editor’s note: we think so 😉 )
What were your first impressions of Malaga?
HOT. Crazy drivers, crazy tourists. Lots of sunbathing!
We found it very strange getting the hang of people going about their daily lives gabbling at you in Spanish. We were especially thrown by what I call the “Spanish Shrug” that lots of British people take very personally and think it means that the Spaniard couldn’t care less and never did.
But we got used to the shrugging, so used to it in fact that now I consciously try not to shrug Spanish style when I’m with people who are new to it.
What do you think has changed most about Malaga since you arrived?
Apart from the new features in the port I don’t think it’s changed much. But we certainly have! We’ve joined what once seemed like a whole other world of Spanish – we now have Spanish friends and speak Spanish, and enjoy going out in the town much more.
On Sundays, there is usually live jazz or blues in the covered area of the port near the main car park. There are street musicians and entertainers in the old town near Malaga cathedral.
One of the biggest changes has been smoking in public. When we arrived, every Spaniard and their grandmother smoked, even the bank staff would offer you a cigarette, a bit like the 1950s in the UK. Now lots of people have given up or keep away from public areas.
What do you like most about living in Malaga?
The tight family culture and the public parades and celebrations. Tens of thousands of spectators from pensioners all the way to young children happily enjoying the spectacle.
I really couldn’t imagine the Easter and Christmas parades on this scale and elegance happening in the UK. The police wouldn’t be able to cope.
I also like the Spaniards’ attitude to alcohol. I’ve hardly if ever seen an abusive angry drunk Spaniard of any age, they seem to know how to play without the alcohol overload. The British down six pints and look for a fight!
What do you like least about living in Malaga?
Some of the systems like car-ownership transfers and other tasks involving government paperwork can be daunting even if you speak Spanish, but the bureaucracy is definitely getting better.
The public school system can be a bit old-fashioned at times and sometimes it seems like the objective is to intimidate and punish the children rather than inspire and lead them. But this too is improving as the new teachers feed into the system.
Where’s your favourite corner in Malaga?
Muelle Uno where there’s live music on Sundays. And we also like the historic centre.
Which is your favourite restaurant in Malaga and why?
We don’t have one yet. Still looking even after over ten years. Too many good ones to settle on just one.
(Editor’s note: to help you choose, we’ve selected the best places to eat on Malaga. Just click on the link below and take your pick!)
Describe Malaga in 3 words
Historic. Dramatic. Friendly.
Expats in Malaga – About Stuart
Stuart, originally from the UK, is a personal hypnotherapist and coach, and has been a comedy hypnotist for 25 years.
You can see his show in Spanish and English at various locations around the Malaga area.
Guide to Malaga would like to thank Stuart very much for answering our questions and for his time taken doing so – ¡muchas gracias!