Just as retirement offers many in Spain the chance to take up or improve an existing sport, so a large number of expats find they have the time to develop or start a hobby. Whilst the dividing line between some sports and hobbies might be thin, I think most people would consider chess, stamp collecting and bridge a hobby whilst perhaps football and rugby are sports. Whatever! The good news is that just as there are many opportunities to enjoy sports, I find that many expats and especially retirees get the chance to devote time to a new hobby or something which has been a passing interest for many years. Not surprisingly, and especially on the coastal strips there are often clubs or associations which almost always welcome new members.

Whilst many of my own friends would consider that work was my only hobby (!), I am a keen chess player and spend several hours per week on online chess sites. My favourite is Gameknot which has a zero cost subscription suitable for people of all levels. There are chess clubs in most Spanish towns and this is definitely a game where the lack of Spanish will not impede you. Indeed it is mixing with fellow local enthusiasts that often is just the impetus you need to learn a language.

Others find that with extra time on their hands they can be more altruistic in their leisure interests and devote time and energy (and often money!) to supporting a charity. As the number of expats increases the pressure on local social services and health care means that organisations like Age Concern, Help and similar worthy bodies are more and more needed. Branches are springing up throughout Spain and additional supporters are always wanted. Additionally, historically Spanish organisations like the Cruz Roja ( Red Cross) and Proteción Civil are usually delighted to welcome English speaking volunteers. Usually, the respective organisations abroad can put you in touch with their Spanish colleagues. The rise of crime on the Costas has lead to numerous Neighbourhood Watch associations being formed and contact details can be found at www.nhwinspain.com I know they are always looking for more members and especially anybody who has experienced with UK schemes will be greeted with open arms.

It is evident that many of these hobbies and leisure pursuits can put the¨”new residents” in touch with your Spanish neighbours and help integration between the various nationalities. A unique example of this is in Torrevieja where the International Residents were invited to actively participate in the Holy Week processions. What a success that was. Please see www.loscostaleros.com An unqualified success by any standard. The International Brotherhood were embraced by local torrevejenses with a passion that it is difficult to explain. The mayor talked of his pride in the participation and, apart from some gauche comments from an ill-informed opposition councillor who made a crass statement about “Muslims and other non-Catholics” which he hastily withdrew when he realised his folly, EVERYBODY said how much the participation of this group of 120 people had added to the Holy Week.

I do hope that you have the opportunity to start and/or develop a new hobby, leisure pursuit or other interest in Spain. There is NO need ever to be bored. Enjoy!!

Part of the This Is Spain Network. Operated by Steve Hall.