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Showing posts from April, 2012

Combining the blogs

I have never quite understood why one of my blogs - Life in Culebrón - is much more popular than this one.

Not many people look at either to be honest but there is a marked difference in the number of visitors. I have just discovered a tool on the Blogger design page that allows me to combine the various blogs I still write - Cartagena and Culebrón - with the now moribund Ciudad Rodrigo.

I have also added a tab for some articles I have written in a local magazine.

So, by just clicking on the tabs at the top of this page, you can quickly navigate between all three Life Ins and the magazine articles.

Quail eggs and ham

Compared with mint tea half way up Everest or sucking down fish head soup in Vietnam I suppose Spanish bars are pretty tame. Nonetheless, drinking and eating in one last night I was reminded of how vibrant they often are.

In amongst the tumult and background noise that every Spaniard copes with by simply talking, or shouting, a little louder we had the extra fun of the din produced by the Real Madrid - Bayern Munich game. And there we were. Not an unusual situation for us nor for the four Spanish people we were with but we had two other Britons with us, a couple of teachers from a school in the UK which is partnered up with Maggie's school here in Cartagena.

The visitors were being entertained. We were out for a snack. As always when out with a biggish bunch of Spaniards to eat tapas someone ends up making all the food decisions. Yesterday I suspect that the chap who thought he was in charge of the order had actually ceded control to the waitress but nobody really minded as long …

To laugh or cry

I changed my bank account recently, basically the same bank but a different account. The bank offered the option to amend all my standing orders and direct debits online via the Internet site. I did that. The result was a bit curate's egg. Some bills have been taken from the new account whilst some have gone from the old account.

Driving back to Cartagena tonight it struck me that maybe I should amend the payment details, that is the bank account number, on the websites of the organisations I pay the bills to as well as to the bank.

The phone company is offline. I notice that the website gives my name as Christofher Jhon Thompson. The address is also wrong.

My mobile phone provider is offline.

My electricity supplier is offline.

My credit card provider requires that I fax identity documents, proof of ownership of the bank account etc to them before they can confirm the change.

The people who deal with water, rates and car tax are an honourable exception. Well done SUMA.

Interesting little difference

I managed to download my draft tax return the other day. Today, with the help of Google and the WordReference dictionary, I made sure that I understood it. Good news, they are going to give me most of my tax back because my wage is so low. Hang on, is that good news?

Anyway I went through the tax return line by line.

Fortunately mine is very simple. By an agreement between the tax people in the UK and the tax people here I pay UK tax on my pension. That leaves my Spanish tax return just about my earnings here. I pay tax on my salary every month and, at the end of the tax year, in December, they do the sums to see whether I owe them money or whether they owe me money.

There are two main types of tax allowance on my salary. The first is a lump sum. This is a disregard of a part of my earnings based on a reasonably complicated formula which gives more back to poor people than it does to rich people. The maximum disregard is just over 4,000€ and the minimum 2,650€.

The interesting bit is…

Where the sun always sets

Those men and women who forged the Empire - the Sutherland Highlanders at Balaclava or those gin and tonic drinking rubber planters in Burma (for the malaria don't you know?) - would be ashamed of us. We got in the car and came home.

Over in Murcia they have a week of festivities, the Spring Festival, as soon as Easter is over. The Murcianos think that Carnival is all well and good but, what with the 40 days of Lent and then the soul wrenching that is Easter, they reckon it's all a bit depressing. So why not let your hair down as soon as you can afterwards?

We hadn't been able to get over to Murcia, what with having to earn a crust and all, but today we were free to go and have a look see. We were there in time to watch a few musical bands parade through the streets giving away small toys, we got to the firework display and we wandered the city full of life, drink, music and noise. With the exception of a Mexican band who were drilled to perfection it was all a bit slapda…

Am I surprised

It's that time of year again. Tax time. First day.

The Revenue start to send out letters and SMS messages to people to tell them how they can get hold of their draft tax statement. The draft tells you what the tax people think you've paid, what you should have paid and how much they owe you or you owe them.

The draft is available online. I heard on the radio that the website had collapsed under the strain of the thousands of people trying to check. A couple of hours later I was trying to get on the website to have a look myself. The particular pages had a message along the lines of "We're a bit pushed at the moment, please try again in an hour or so." It's about eight hours later now, around midnight. The website has the same message. Down for the majority of the working day then.

Apparently the system was designed to deal with 100 transactions per second, clicking on a link for instance being a transaction. They had something like 5,600 transactions per sec…