AS a journalist who rolled up on Spanish shores in 1994 I had no idea what to expect.
I had intended to spend a few glorious weeks of laziness enjoying life with my girlfriend and spending my meagre savings on an extended holiday, before returning to the Fleet Street rat race.
It did not take long to become seduced by the relaxed Spanish lifestyle – and a return to the hard grind of the UK started to seem not very enticing.
So almost by accident I settled down in Spain.
I married my girlfriend (Sandra) at Mijas Town Hall the next year, and since then have raised three children here. I would not change a single minute of the life I have enjoyed in this wonderful country.
My first challenge back then was of course getting a job. Given my background in journalism I naturally looked for opportunities in the press.
Not speaking Spanish at the time, my options were of course severely limited.
There were very few English language newspapers on the Costa del Sol – and the ‘No Vacancies’ signs were out in force.
Which seemed a bit odd, as reading them they could certainly have done with a little more journalistic talent.
This was a recurring theme down the years – papers came and went and some were a better read than others.
Most were entirely advertisement-led with little thought given to what is, in my mind, the most important bit – the stories themselves.
So I made a new life for myself – as do many expats – working in the restaurant trade, doing a bit of writing in my spare time.
That is until the Olive Press arrived on the scene. I remember the first time I picked up a copy and was slightly shocked – and definitely delighted – to find a local English newspaper that put journalism first.
At the time I was helping to run a couple of restaurants with my father. But reading the OP that first time definitely implanted in my mind an itch to make a return to the world of print.
There was something about its wide selection of stories, its ability to find an interesting feature and, above all, to take on some of the coast’s worst crooks that I loved.
It would not be for another six years that I made it back to my ‘first love’ of journalism, but during that time I always picked up my fortnightly copy of the OP and followed the local news avidly.
Why? Because it offered investigative reporting that looked behind the headlines and covered real issues that affected the expat communities in Spain.
While I was to spend a few years at one of its former rivals, it was great to be finally offered a job at the Olive Press last year.
In the course of the 15 years since I first picked up the paper somewhere around La Cala de Mijas it has always reflected on the things that interested me.
And gratifyingly for a journalist, I discovered it had not given up on its original remit, based on quality content and NOT advertising.
Even better, its DNA is still following the big issues of the day and exposing wrongdoing.
And indeed, since I joined we have consistently looked at dodgy businessmen, bent politicians and greedy developers, alongside some excellent environmental stories and travel stuff.
But it’s the human stories that best tick my box… and we are never short of them.
The OP has grown and evolved over 15 years – just as Spain has. I await to see what the next 15 years bring for Spain and, obviously, the Olive Press with interest.
- The Olive Press celebrates its 15 year anniversary
- 15 years of the Olive Press: A message from our editor-in-chief
- How Spain has changed in 15 years