Having just arrived back from a family holiday in Espana (you know the type: concrete monstrosities with all-inclusive food, pools, broken aircon and a complete lack of health and safety), I found myself using the term ‘Johnny Foreigner’ on more than one occasion as I undertook a one-man people watching study of their oft strange behaviours.

Yes, the stereotypes are true, to a point: Us Brits, overweight, covered in tramp stamps (aka ‘ink’) and sporting a narrow range of football shirts and branded towels were to be found by the pool with a cold pint in our hands just after breakfast, as we sweat profusely into our frothy Estrella lagers.

The Germans, stereotypically, wore Speedos (whose marketing team deserve great credit for managing to maintain market share for a fashion item that died in every other country in the western world at least 30 years ago).

Up early, as is the German efficient stock in trade, they would attempt to look as if they were not running as they took a brisk walk with their FC Wolfsberg towels to bag four sunbeds near the pool and four behind under the parasols. All I could wonder was how much better the Lufthansa baggage allowance was over Ryanair if they could afford to bring eight towels on their foreign jaunt.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Brett Ellis went to Spain on a family holidayBrett Ellis went to Spain on a family holiday

The Dutch, cool as ever, kept themselves to themselves, only drawing attention when they spoke. All of them as fit as a fiddle, which left me scratching my head as an avid cyclist as to how they, like me, haven’t ballooned in the summer months. This was answered at lunchtime as I loaded up with round three of what I think was a paella and chips, as the Dutch contingent nibbled a lettuce leaf.

Surprisingly, the biggest change to my eyes was that of the Spanish. Having been to Spain countless times, more so 20 or so years ago when my brother lived in the Marbella area, I found them to have embraced a real sense of entitlement.

The single most irritating thing that seems to now be rife with the Spanish is this: By the pool, having a chilled-out coffee in a local café as you let the warm breeze waft through your bald patch or catching the wrong train into Barcelona, the Spanish felt the need to have extremely loud conversations on their mobiles. I don’t understand the lingo beyond ‘un San Miguel por favor’, or maybe it’s my age, but I found it intrusive and irritating.

Still, no doubt, as I sat in a square in central Barca sipping pint numero dos of the day, resplendent in my hooky Barca top as I picked a troublesome toenail through my flip flops, I’m sure I heard a neighbouring family utter ‘Sangrienta Johnny Extranjera’ as they glared in my direction…

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher.