This is the time of year that my wife and I like to check up on how Johnny Foreigner is getting on.

Every year, at our own expense, we hop on a plane, book an apartment and try out beaches, bars and other places of interest.

Somebody’s got to do it, and this year we had a look at Spain.

I tan easily, so I soon blended in, and luckily a lot of Johnny Foreigners have taken the trouble to learn English, so we could ask questions when we couldn’t work out their funny ways, without having to speak their funny language.

While we were there we also took a day trip to Gibraltar, even though it is technically a little corner of Blighty.

A few of their ‘restaurants’ are proud to tell you they sell fish and chips, just in case you need some in an emergency, and they also have telephone boxes and pelican crossings that are exactly the same as ours.

Talking of crossings: some Johnny Foreigners count down how long you have to wait until the red man changes to green, then how long you’ve got until the green man changes back to red, which we thought made them better than ours.

So well done, Johnny Foreigner.

Another thing that Johnny Foreigner seems to have off to a T, of course, is public transport, which he nearly always manages to make not just clean and efficient, but cheap.

Imagine that!

To be honest, we only went on a couple of buses, because most of the time we got around in a hire car.

Once you get used to the fact that Johnny Foreigner likes driving on the wrong side of the road - even in Gibraltar - it’s surprisingly stress-free.

For some reason, Johnny Foreigner doesn’t seem to have a word in his language for ‘pothole’, or he was off school the day it came up in his English lesson, because when we asked him why his roads don’t have any, he didn’t know what we were on about.

We can only assume that - unlike over here - Johnny Foreigner has simply chosen not to have them.

This is puzzling because neither does he have much in the way of roadworks.

We hardly saw a cone, and weren’t delayed for a single moment during the whole fortnight - not until we returned home and had to take a huge detour around the M4 because the signs were telling us roadworks were causing ‘long delays’.

We don’t know whether Johnny Foreigner has a word for ‘litter’, either, because there was almost none of it, but he certainly understands the meaning of words like ‘culture’, ‘heritage’ and ‘civic pride’.

Come to think of it, although lots of people over here still cling to the idea that Johnny Foreigners, all over the world, will always be our poor relations, in recent years there do seem to be lots of ways that they have left us standing.

What’s the answer to all this?

Well, we could take the attitude that defeatist people often take when smart alecs dare to suggest that Johnny Foreigner knows what he is doing, which is to say: if you like it so much over there, why don’t you push off (or words to that effect) and live there? Or we could do the intelligent thing and accept that Johnny Foreigner may actually be able to teach us a thing or two, and try to learn from him.

And this might even be true, even though his Armada was useless in 1588 and we put him in his place at Trafalgar, as recently as 1805.