Monday, January 18, 2010

Vampires ......

..exist. Really, they do. In fact they have moved into the flat upstairs.

Some time last year the flat changed hands. After a while, when all seemed reasonably peaceful, an awful lot of building work started to take place.

First we thought they were having a new kitchen or a new bathroom. It seemed they were having new everything. The whole flat was being ripped out. Even the tiled floor was being taken up and we were treated to days on end of an SDS drill hammering away.

But eventually peace reigned and the new people moved in.

The days were quiet and tranquil, but then we realised, when we were going to bed - they were waking up.

And then they stayed awake all night. Chattering, laughing, and - whatever else. Around getting up time ie 6am onwards, they fell into their coffins quiet.

There was no loud music. Fortunately. There were a few loud banging noises, as though they were moving round their heavy coffins furniture.

One day Partner saw a group of them in the daylight. Pale skin, and dark hair. Rather like Mortitia although perhaps not quite the same build. They were on one of their rare excursions during the daytime.

Clearly when they ripped out all the previous stuff from the flat they were getting rid of any anti-vampire things. Mouldy garlic, crosses, stakes, whatever else that could possibly damage them.

After all who else gets up at 9/10/11 pm and goes to bed at 5/6 am?

Still, as they don't play loud music, I don't care. Quiet vampires are preferable to noisy people.

Always best to be on the safe side though .....

Friday, January 15, 2010

Setting up a business in Gib (2)

Step 2 - The trading licence ....

Here is the next post in my 'How to set up a business in Gib' series.

The trading licence is probably the biggest hurdle, so read carefully.

A number of businesses require a trading licence. This includes all construction trades, as well as hairdressing, catering (ie all the hospitality sector) and manufacturing.

Now while the form is pretty straightforward (as are most forms in Gib), there is one key criteria that you need to fulfil.

You need a Gib address for your business. Not just a personal address, but one where the business is actually run from. Apart from anything else, the licence is issued to the address.

So, you can't use the following:

1) a Spanish address
2) a rented Gib address
3) Gib government housing.

In these circumstances, you will need to rent/buy an appropriate address in Gib, either a locale, a share of a locale, or office space. Which isn't much use if you don't have enough money to pay dead money out regularly every month.

On the other hand, if you own your own property in Gib, and depending on what your business is, you can use a home address. In our case, it gets used for exactly the same as it did in the UK - office admin, ie 'phone calls, printing estimates, bills, and book-keeping. We don't store anything here as materials get bought specifically for each job, and anything left over remains with the customer.

So, off you go to DTI at Europort. Go in through the pink door, and slowly climb the stairs to the third floor. Unless you use the lift of course. Turn right, and there is a small lobby and a window.

You will be given three forms. This one had me foxed. The first one is the application form. The other two are for your adverts. It was only when I was trying to place the ads (without the forms) that the penny dropped.

Before you hand in your completed application, you need to place your ads. One has to be in the Gazette, and the other in a local paper of your choice.

The office for the Gazette is based in the Treasury Building in John Mack Square. Another climb upstairs. There is a buzzer. You are taken in, you hand in the completed form, and pay £20. Depending on when you hand in your form - you may have to wait a couple of weeks for the next instalment of the Gazette to be published. The staff at the treasury will tell you the next publication date.

Eventually, you can pick up a copy from No 6 Convent Place, at a cost of £1.20.

For the other advert, we used Panorama, based in Irish Town. The ad cost £35, and can appear the next day, or whenever you specify. Panorama costs 50p.

For some strange reason, the copy of the Gazette was incredibly late being printed, but that may have been something to do with the fact that it coincided with the National Day period and we had to wait nearly another two weeks before we could finally collect one.

Once you have copies of the two ads you have placed, you cut them out, and attach them to your application form, and head off back to the Licensing Office at the DTI.

In case anyone is thinking that you could do this whole step before Companies House (to minimise the Gazette delay) - you can't because you need the company name to place the ad.

You don't have to pay for the licence when you hand in your form because it has to go before the next meeting of the Licensing Authority - whenever that is. I think we only had to wait just over a week for that.

If there are any queries they contact you. Otherwise, they send out the decison of the authority after the meeting. Two weeks seems to be the period for everything for this saga because it was at least another two weeks after the date of the meeting before we got the letter telling us the licence had been approved.

I skipped off to the DTI and up the three flights of stairs yet again, to collect the licence. The licence runs from Jan - Dec every year. The first one costs £40, although if you apply after 1 July in the calendar year, the cost is reduced to £20. Renewals are due on 1 Jan of the following year and cost £25. So when I collected ours, I paid for the following year as well, total cost £45.

Opening hours for everywhere mentioned above are the usual morning ones, ie 9am until 12.30pm - give or take 15 minutes, apart from Panorama which is open until 1pm.

Next step ... off to the tax office.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Long, wild, loose, messy, and all the rest of it

If there is anyone out there - who is on Facebook - who has not yet read about wild and long and black - or whatever the compilation is, then you obviously don't read FB very much. And that is maybe a good idea.

For those of you a) not on FB and b) who are but don't understand what on earth this is all about - the first is a reference to the state of your hair, and the colour reference is to the bra you are wearing.

So, why are women on FB posting about the state of their hair and the colour of their bra?

Well, it seems it is in aid of breast cancer awareness whatever that means.

Apparently by posting comments loaded with sexual innuendo about the state of my hair (on top, loose and messy, on the side - I forget the exact ones), and the colour of my bra - or none if I am not wearing one - I am helping to raise awareness of breast cancer.

What sort of awareness? That it exists? Is there really anyone in the literate world who is not aware of a) breast cancer b) any other form of cancer? Or who hasn't personally met someone who has been diagnosed with cancer?

Naturally the facebook comments have been jokey and loaded - so to speak. This, is not helping anyone with breast cancer. Nor is it helping to prevent breast cancer. It is something that people seem to be joining in because it is a laugh and it has the magic word 'cancer' so therefore it must be good to join in.

A few comments, and a few facts:

Why raise 'awareness' of breast cancer before any other cancer?

If this is about sending people for mammograms - there is no point sending people at low risk for screening.

In the UK, the original breast screening programme was set up for women aged 50-65. Women older than 65 could continue to go for screening but would not be routinely invited. The programme has now changed to include routine invitations to women up to age 70, and will be extended further to include women aged 47-73.

But the basic screening programme is targeted at the age group of women who are most likely to develop breast cancer ie over 50s. So, by and large, sending anyone much younger for mammograms is not helpful.

Screening does NOT prevent cancer. It may, and can usually detect, either cancer, or pre-cancerous changes, ie some changes in cells that may lead to cancer.

When there is a finite budget, screaming for screening for everyone, for every cancer under the sun, is quite frankly my dear, unrealistic.

And as a UK NHS cancer budget holder in the past, my money would have been spent on providing treatment for people with cancer, not providing screening programmes for low risk groups of people.

How would you feel? You are diagnosed with cancer and told you can't have some expensive chemotherapy drug because the money has gone on extending the screening programme? Can't have everything in this world. And especially in the health services.

So, stop screaming for cancer screening programmes and thinking they will get you out of a hole. They won't.

What will help is:

1) Don't smoke. This will decrease your chances of getting lung cancer, heart disease, and a shit load of other things as well.

2) Eat fresh food. Preferably vegetables and fruit. (And legumes). Yes, I know. This involves preparing and cooking them. They don't come out of easy fix plastic bags from the deep freeze in the supermarket. Cut down on the meat. And those HUGE really good VFM portions. Great value for money when they clog up your arteries and your colon huh?

3) Use condoms - this will reduce the chance of women becoming infected with HPV. If a woman already has HPV then using a condom will reduce the chances of that infection developing into pre-cancerous changes. Oops, forgot to say that HPV is a good indicator of developing cervical cancer.

4) Stay out of the midday sun - and any other strong sun too. If you go out in it, wear sun screen, better still, wear a hat and cover up. That means long sleeved clothes and trousers. Yeah, you wont get a beautiful tan. You won't burn and peel either. And you are far less likely to get malignant melanoma ie not very nice skin cancer.

Now, I can write a lot more about cancer. But for now you are spared. Just do not tell me that the colour of my underwear and my hair is remotely helpful in prevention, diagnosis or cure of cancer. Clear?


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Setting up a business in Gib (1)

Much of the past year was taken up with work issues.

Partner was laid off the firm he was working for, and after some discussion we agreed that it would be a good idea to work for himself in future.

As he spent some 20 years or so in the UK running his own business we are aware of the pros and cons.

The immediate disadvantage is the lack of a consistent weekly income.

The advantages are:

• far more flexibility - work where you want, when you want, if you want
• the opportunity to do the standard of work you want, ie good quality, rather than what someone else tells you to do, in order to get a job knocked out quickly, and maximise the profit for the boss(es)
• a better rate for the job
• more variety in the type of work

to name but a few.

In the UK, it was easy. Notify tax and social, put an advert in the local paper/Yellow Pages and you are up and running.

Not so in Gib.

There are four key steps

1) Register a business name at Companies House

2) Apply for a trading licence

3) Notify the tax office

4) Notify the ETB

Step 1

The first thing to do is to decide on a name for your business and decide whether or not you are going to be a sole trader, partnership or limited company.

This name needs to be registered at Companies House, 1st Floor, The Arcade, between Main Street and Irish Town.

Partnerships, companies, and sole traders using a different name to their own have to register the business name. Sole traders using their own name are also recommended to do so.

Companies House is open from 9am - 3pm, and the staff are helpful.

When you go you need to check that the name you want to use has not already been registered. Either the staff on reception will do this for you, or you can go and check out names on computers which are available for the public to make their own search.

There are three forms depending on which type of business you wish to register. They all ask for name of business, person or people running it, place of business, and home address of people applying for the licence.

The cost is £20. I handed the form in one day and picked it up in the afternoon the following day.

First hurdle completed.

Once the name is registered, you can start printing stationery and anything else you want to put the name on.

We ordered some polo shirts from Cotton Leisure with an embroidered logo. They will also embroider a logo on shirts that you provide.

And we bought a pack of pre-cut business cards from Beacon Press to design and print our own.

The offical certificate from Companies House and copies of the paperwork, officially stamped.

Next step - the trading licence.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Blog of the month

Been toying with the idea of a new blog for some time and actually started one up this weekend.

No, not yet another one in addition to existing ones but rather mothballing a couple and trying a new direction.

However, it seems a shame to resist the invitation from expat blog to be their blog of the month.

So - back in business for now...... as that's rather an incentive to post again.

Christmas was spent in a wet Gibraltar, followed by a wet New Year break in Spain - although it fined up for New Year's Day, and once back in Gib - a fine evening for the procession of the Three Kings on 5 Jan. Not having seen this before in Gib, it was a huge contrast to the simple one I've seen at our pueblo in Spain. Big extravagant floats, and a long cavalcade. Well worth watching.

Wintry, rainy, overcast, Gib

My festive dog

Kitchen table on New Year's Eve - can recommend the Rioja

The village from the beach

An empty beach on New Year's Day - well apart from us of course

After the beach walk - and not getting rained on - we settled on the terrace to enjoy the sun.

New Year's Day butterfly


Some sort of daisy thing

No snow in our village but there was some on the top of the nearby mountain

One of the Three Kings passing up a packed Main Street

Waiting outside the Convent for the band to approach

Given the present and historical presence of the armed forces in Gib, it was interesting to see they were also in the parade.

A nice Defender

And a large military float

To end with, a couple of photos from our meal out that evening at Pizzaghetti Factory in Irish Town. They were practically full as they were expecting a pre-booked large party but they managed to find a table for two. Thanks to them for that, and the food was excellent.

The two main courses

Close up of that yummy pizza

And a happy 2010 to all my readers, past and present.