I think I’ve said quite enough about me in previous posts (I hear cheers in the background) perhaps you the reader would like to be heard? All you have to do is post a comment below (as long as you like) and I’ll make sure it gets ample coverage. Ladies if you want to send photos that would be very nice, the more revealing the better (whoops I’ve started already and its only 4-30 in the morning). Gentlemen (Ha there are no gentlemen reading this) don’t bother, no photos of you are worth taking up any space. Sorry! But seriously, yes I can be serious now and then, for this next post I really would appreciate some involvement from some of my readers, I know a lot of you have far more knowledge of the subject than I have but I’m happy to get the ball rolling and who knows we may be able to start a forum or blog about our island Gozo that would get some traction with “the powers that be”.
Last night I joined a group of friends for the first time (as the new boy on the island) and our conversation drifted at times to the ecology and the wellbeing of this precious gem. It’s only fair to say that sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have until we lose it, and I think this can apply to (some) Gozitan’s. That’s not meant as a swipe at the locals it’s just a fact that I’ve seen wherever I’ve landed in the world. So maybe it would be a good idea for those of us that know what we’re all in danger of losing, to do something about it and create the “buzz” and try to raise awareness with the “locals” to preserve what they have before its lost forever.
Gozo is perfect for a ‘real world’ experiment at being “eco-friendly”. Just think about it, we have a small island that can only be reached by ferry, plenty of sunshine and natural resources that can sustain a sound eco community. We talked last night about electric cars the pros and cons, and we can give our views in the comments below. But to get started, I think all combustion engines could be banned from the island (now that is a controversial statement but I don’t mind controversy). OK I know the Gozitan’s are car crazy, but exceptions could be made by special licence for certain ‘antique cars’. Electric recharge points could be made available all over the island and with our sunshine they could be solar-powered (the technology is available so we just have to convince someone to pay for it) and that should be the easy part. I don’t know about you but I’d love to be sat at a roadside café without my senses being attacked by some tornado of a motorbike tearing past and further deafening this poor old CB.
The island abounds with its own natural herbs, and I know someone who knows everything about that, sadly she leaves next week, but with a little encouragement I’m sure she could be persuaded to return even as a visitor to advise on the opportunities for the rich harvest we’re walking on. There are already some organic farms here I don’t know where or how many but there are companies that I know of that will help develop organic farming, Agrilicious is one, OK they’re based in Seattle USA but Duane Dahl their co-founder is a really fair entrepreneur and philanthropist and with a little encouragement I’m sure we could persuade him and his team to offer their advice if not involvement.
Already on the island some people have installed solar panels, but I see very few wind turbines and no wave technology and they could be introduced in a less intrusive way ‘cos as those of us here know there’s plenty of waves and wind here, especially when CBs had a few beers (sorry girls). This tiny unassuming island could become a mecca for ecologists around the world and a true example of what can be achieved, the only barrier we have is apathy, and that’s where we need to focus attention.
For those that don’t know (that’s everyone), I’m writing a semi-serious book about Gozo (now that is a first the Crazy Brit trying to be serious). My book centre’s on some of this islands wonderful resources both past, present and the future. Frenc tal Gharb is rightly considered something of a saint here for his healing abilities, he has his own Facebook page, there’s a museum here in my little village of ? Well, I said I’d let the cat out of the bag in my last post so yes it’s GHARB (but please don’t swarm here we can do without all you cheapskates coming in your polluting cars and stuff). I’m sure resurrecting the healing properties of the island’s natural resources would be a fitting epitaph to Frenc tal Gharb’s memory, and I know he’s is admired by everyone here, so why not?
The fact of the matter is that this whole subject is way too big to cover in one simple blog post, especially by someone who’s new to the island, so if there’s anyone out there that cares (and I know there are) then let’s start a campaign to make Gozo green, now there’s a good campaign slogan Gozo Green or GREEN GOZO. And that come’s from someone dare I say, that’s come up with a few of those (in his dark shadowy past). Oh crap I hope the FBI don’t see this. So the newbie on the island is gonna shut up now (cheers all around) and pass it on to comments (even just good or bad) from the audience after all as the new boy round here I’m still learning.
I was asked yesterday what would happen to all the old cars and wouldn’t the owners be unhappy about having them banned? Understandable (I have one too at the moment) I suggested that the government/EU/Private investors could fund a free exchange program new electric car for old petrol car (new lamps for old) I don’t know about other residents but I’d quite like a new electric car and if Mr Sebastian Thrun (ex Google and inventor of the driver-less car) gets involved they could even be driver-less, imagine that just jump in the car say home James and chill out. Whatever next….hmmm this would be nice>>
That’s all from me folks now it’s up to you PEACE x
John Paul Chalkley aka The Crazy Brit
I’ve had what some would call a frustrating day today, but I have to smile at what’s gone on and the way the system (and I use that word in the broadest sense), how the system works. Actually I still haven’t clearly worked it out. They call me CRAZY, well I’ve learnt to keep smiling and with some of the experiences I’ve gone through today may help some of you to avoid the pitfalls.
OK so here we go, I arrive in Gozo and am given the keys to my apartment. Joe my landlord has been great and is always looking for ways to improve things and help me with anything I need. I have to say, this isn’t the typical experience that people find, but he’s a bit crazy (like you know who). So I’ve absolutely no complaints on the number 1 thing you have to do when you arrive, GET SOMEWHERE TO LIVE! My village (I’m still not saying where it is) is perfect for what I need, but I think I’ve covered that in my previous posts. But the second thing I felt was important was to make sure I had access to medical care if it was needed. I arrived with my E.H.I.C (European Health Insurance Card) they’re given to you for free provided your country is a member of the EU, so if you take ill while away then you’ll be treated there, and the bill is sent to (in my case) the British N.H.S.
It’s a reciprocal arrangement for all EU countries, so whenever you go on holiday to an E.U country, and if your home country is in the EU always make sure you have your little blue card. Consequently I go to the very excellent hospital in Rabat and walk to the accounting department and hand them the S1 form I was sent from H.M.G in the UK. This is to arrange for me to qualify for Maltese health care. The “little blue card” isn’t any use once you’re a resident here, although I’m sure if you needed treatment they’d use it. So the lady in the office takes the S1 form which the UK government sent to my new address in (Ah you nearly caught me there). They do that to make sure you are a resident, if it was done any other way I guess that would open the “system” to fraud.
Now the next thing I need is to open a bank account “easy peasy in any other country”, but not here, at one stage I complained to the bank and said “perhaps I should find someone else willing to take MY money”. OK I know I don’t have a lot but that’s never stopped anyone wanting what I’ve got anyway (no names mentioned). Without access to your money you can’t buy “stuff” or pay rent, so having access to money is, I would say quite important. However you can’t open a bank account unless you’re a resident. HELLO! So wait for it, to obtain residency you have to show you are living here permanently, and show copies of bank statements. Are you still with me? I’m not sure I am.
Now I’ve been with HSBC since before they came to the UK, and they suggested I became a Premier customer years ago, I didn’t need to do anything but my “personal banker” Jill, arranged an account in the US for me, and I had very little to do to get it. I wasn’t exactly loaded but was getting money from different sources in the UK and the US. I’ve gotta say I’ve been a Premier customer for several years and it’s a great program with lots of benefits and it costs NOTHING (just click the link and see). So Michael at the bank, after a rough start (me going just a bit crazy with him-sorry Michael) gets stuck in and starts really helping to ease the process for me and removes a LOT of the unnecessary red tape. But the final thing he needed was me to prove I had been accepted as a resident. “Go to the Ministry” he says, “and get the paperwork going they will give you a temporary document which we can use to prove you are a resident”
The Citadella Rabat
So I get up very early this morning and drive into Rabat/Victoria (I prefer Rabat as that’s what the Gozitan’s call it and it was us Brits that forced them to change the name to honour Queen Victoria) and that’s just not cricket old chap. Anyway I’m there by 7-15 am they open at 8 am but it was a lovely day so I sat in the courtyard and watched the staff arriving for work. A nice young lady opened up the door smiled and said, we don’t open ‘til 8, Oh I know I’m fine here in the sunshine (yes all you people in the cold and rain, eat your heart out).
So it’s now 8 am, she says you can come in now, she promptly goes and takes a selection of forms staples them together and asks me to bring them back when they’re completed, along with all of the other things I need to prove “economic self-sufficiency” Now I’m no lawyer and I don’t agree with age or sex discrimination, in fact I fought a case in the US against one of the US’s biggest retailers for just this type of discrimination (and this will be the subject of another blog), but this young lady who was smiling throughout the whole process clearly expected me to go away and I was n’t sure what her problem was (surely not me I’m just an innocent Crazy Brit).
Now No.1 I may be wrong here, but I though one of the things about being in the EU was the ability to settle in whatever member state you wanted.
No.2 I’ve looked, but the forms I have don’t appear to be referenced, so they can’t be seen on the internet and is that kosher?.
No.3 despite my inane ability to keep smiling I was starting to lose it, but hey ho, it’s a lovely day so what.
Enjoying the sunshine not aware of the battle to come
I told her I’d like to complete them in the office, she was clearly upset and hovered over me as I started to fill out the forms. Before I could go much further she asked if I had the form given to me by the UK government the S1 form (don’t anyone forget to get that, it’s most important) well no I said, I’ve given that to the hospital and they never gave me a copy. Do you also have the last 6 months of bank statements? She said. Holly crap I’m tottering on the verge now, well it’s like this I say, my bank accounts are in the US and the UK and as yet I don’t have one here. So give me copies of those she says. (This is not going well). “I’ll tell you what” I say smiling ” I’ll go back to the hospital and ask them for a copy of the S1”, we prefer the original she replied, Oh.. OK I’ll ask for the originals, I’m sure they won’t mind giving me those now they’ve seen them. (Famous last words).
At this point I’m taking a break, I have a doctor’s appointment in 15 minutes (no not for high blood pressure) but thank god for that little blue card, see you later.
Ciao, well that didn’t take long and how well it went. The service the doctor gave me here was in a different league to what you’d get in the UK or in the US. I have to say I wasn’t surprised as Malta ranks 5th in the World Health Organisation table of Countries. But consider this, I called in at the pharmacy Ta’Pinu and the pharmacist Marica rang the doctor for me and arranged the appointment at the pharmacy with just 2 hours’ notice. Now that is unheard of anywhere in the world and just goes to show how importantly the Maltese regard their health care. And the doctor (I’m not sure I can tell you her name –ethics?) knew what she was talking about, and appeared far more knowledgeable than the average doc. The U.K and U.S by the way are way down the league table in ranking. Anyway, surprisingly my blood pressure was normal and the issue I have (numbness in the hand) is due to me leaning on my arm while I’m writing these blogs (crap I’m doing it now). So I can now issue a health warning not just for reading but for writing these darn things.
Back to those famous last words
“I’ll go back to the hospital and ask them for a copy”, we prefer the original, Oh OK I’ll ask for the originals I’m sure they won’t mind giving me those now they’ve seen them”.
I drive to the hospital, the hospital here is excellent and the staff are very attentive, however when I popped my head into the administration office things went downhill quickly, but its not the ladies fault so I keep smiling. My S1 form had been sent off to Malta and they don’t keep any copies so I’ll have to wait for about a week for it to make its way to me. But what happens if it gets lost in their “system” well I have absolutely no idea! So after trying very hard to persuade the lady to help me out and even my erratic behaviour and sob story didn’t work, I thanked her for her help (do that whatever the case) and I then made my way back to the Ministry. Maybe they would take pity on me. No chance.
Oh!”Dearie me” I said smiling like a Cheshire cat. Thank you for your help I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. But if you see me begging on the street corner because I’ve no money remember me, I said to her. Dead silence, no response apart from that “sweet” smile again. Well at least this helps me demonstrate to you how important it is to keep as many documents as possible and bring them with you. Now I thought I was being clever when I set out for Gozo I scanned everything into my external Seagate hard drive and guess what, it stopped working! After long periods of live online chat this was the final message
“Dear John: Thank you for contacting Seagate Support. Based on your replay, you have a defective. Unfortunately, the drive is out of warranty and cannot be replaced. If you are interested in recovering the data via Seagate, please contact our fee based Data Recovery Services by visiting the link below:http://www.seagate.com/services-software/data-recovery-services/consumers/in-lab-data-recovery/ Alternatively, you could remove the drive from the external enclosure and connect it into a compatible third party enclosure. However, note that if you are not very careful, you may damage the platters, thereby making it difficult for even data recovery experts to recover the files. For additional assistance, feel free to contact us at:http://www.seagate.com/gb/en/about/contact-us/technical-support/ Regards, Leslie Seagate Support ref: _00D00hhzl._5003Aeau8r: ref”
I’m dumbfounded! I need to go and lay down in a dark room, close my eyes and just relax, I should really go to the Lotus-Tal-Qalb to chill out, but I’m there tomorrow for another massage, I need to de-stress and Nico is just the person to help, besides now I have a physical issue with my hand so I convince myself I can afford it .
Now you would think at this stage nothing else could happen to frustrate me aha. I didn’t mention that just before I came to Gozo I bought a new cell phone, I sat on it and the screen cracked. I ordered a new screen from eBay, not a lot of money but expensive for carriage, and I have to wait awhile for delivery. But I’ve been ordering a lot online recently, to get things I couldn’t find on Gozo, a landline phone for example. So I mentioned this to someone and they suggested I went to Sound and Vision. Sound and Vision continued the trend for the way Gozo retailers display themselves (very low key). I go inside it looked quite small on the outside, but when you go inside you find the place is massive, it’s like walking into my Tardis, small on the outside, but big and well stocked on the inside. I explain my predicament to Jason the owner and he’s happy to wait for the screen I bought on eBay to be delivered and see if he can fit it for me. Big relief thank you, so what’s frustrating about that. Sound and Vision have a large display of phones and they’re the same as the one I bought on eBay. They’re cheaper and I can have one right now. Crap I’m throwing good money away here, so I buy a cheap non-electrical phone so when I have a power cut (with my luck it will happen) I can still use the phone. Everything you need right here on Gozo, it’s just that you have to search to find it. I think I’ll have to give up blogging and maybe offer my marketing services to the local retailers (there was a time I was OK at that).
So remember, Gozo residency can take some time to process (no longer than other countries though) it’s something of a mine field getting through the process. Don’t lose your temper with anyone, they’re just telling you what they’ve been told (it’s just a pity that they’re all told different things). But this is part of the charm of Gozo, at least you interact with humans instead of talking to a machine. So if you haven’t yet moved here, and are thinking about it, COME, its wonderful, but prepare as much as you can, and bring all the relevant documents. Forget the clothes and all the other crap I brought, and remember when out shopping that the shop on the inside is way different than the look of it on the outside. But isn’t that nice (not seeing all those advertising banners) and what have you, it all looks so “un-commercialized” just like going back in time.
I’m in that Tardis again.
addiju sakemm il-ħin li jmiss (goodbye until the next time)
John Paul Chalkley aka The Crazy Brit
Hi there, before we go an further I want to say it’s not me who thinks I’m crazy it’s other people. I hope and believe that’s not bad crazy, its just that I may say some crazy things, so don’t be offended. I’ve been writing blogs for a few years now, but really just for my own amusement, and to get stuff off my chest. Only yesterday I went to group meditation and our teacher agreed with me that writing helped to clear my mind and be ready to meditate. So whilst I’ve accused myself of rambling in the past, it’s been for a good reason “MY PEACE”. First of all before we start on this journey I think it would be good to know a little about your companion, (that’s me):
I describe myself as a “Christian Buddhist” on Facebook (haven’t we all got Facebook nowadays). Saying this is a religion is in itself a misnomer ‘cos I don’t accept Buddhism is a religion, and I think even “The Buddha” would agree (but we can discuss that later).
I was born a Christian, so it gets a little complicated and is too long a story as to how I found Buddhism. So today is by means of my introduction and will become my one and only blog (sighs of relief). Here I will re-post not only past blogs, (that I consider worthwhile), but all of my future posts. So enjoy and smile (do you know it takes fewer muscles to smile than frown). If you don’t enjoy reading these then just stop. All I would ask from you, in return for me “opening my soul” is for you tell me what YOU think because it’s only with your comments (good or bad) that I know what everyone wants. So please fill in the comments box below and any special requests you make will be answered, but no candid nude photos of me, sorry ladies, (but there’s no point making a big thing out of a little thing like that).
Today has been a great day, and I continue to learn a lot about this magical island and my village of (No I’m not saying were I live because I don’t want this peaceful village overrun by all you cheapskates). In my previous life working in Texas, the job I had was in Marketing and Public Relations, that’s where I picked up all of the tricks of manipulation and one of the reasons I left, (perhaps I’ll write about that experience in another post). But one of the things I learned was that even though I spent a lot of $s advertising on TV, Cinema, Billboards, Radio, Facebook, Direct mail etc etc. the most effective form of advertising above all else (and with no cost) was and is word of mouth (people talking). Recently I’ve experienced the benefit of talking, apart from the people I’ve been talking to being locals, one of the other bonuses (apart from one or two guys) is that all of the these people have been attractive females, (a big bonus for the Crazy Brit). But wait guys like I said to Marica at Ta’Pinu pharmacy “why is it that all the attractive females here are all accounted for” yep sadly for me they are (I hear sniggers in the background tut tut). Hell I may be crazy, but I’ve still got some fire in my belly! even though it may need kindling. Anyway today I went to see my attractive doctor (yep she’s married), and Marica (who’s engaged) told me about a fab place in Gozo to buy my tea, and what a little gem it was. Vini-e-Capricci is in the Gozitano Agricultural village and it’s packed with wonderful goodies, chocolate, the best teas, coffee, wines and lots of other things, and all in a nice relaxing setting. You’ll see what I mean when you click the link (but please come back here)
What Marica did by telling me about Vini Capricci was not only help a poor crazy Brit, but it helped ‘Abraham Said’ develop his already thriving business (I hope I get a discount from Abraham when I next call in for this plug hint hint). I also realised that I could buy top quality products cheaper than I could anywhere (yep and you guessed it, I’d just placed an order in the UK over the internet for tea). I was so impressed with what they had in tea that I’m considering fulfilling a long held ambition of opening a tea shop. I almost opened a tea shop in Texas called The Crazy Brit (go figure). Over there I’d not only found the location, but I persuaded the mayor of the city (Keller), to do my ribbon cutting. In fact The Crazy Brit tea shop concept is still open on my Facebook, so I may use some of the ideas I came up with there for my tea shop if and when I open one here (if I can be bothered to get from behind my desk and do some real work). Unfortunately my now ex, in Texas has either kept or sold my collection of teapots and she refuses to enter into communication, although maybe if and when she reads this she will “reconsider her position” (name n shame).
But now the name for the Gozo tea shop.
I actually own the domain for TeaZme (no it’s not me launching a porn site, as was suggested in the US) It represents Tea Zen and Me, and is a place where customers can go and have either tea in a formal English tea shop setting, or go into the other room and enjoy the relaxation of herbal teas in a relaxed meditation area.
Fortunately I did manage to bring with me one of the dozens of teapots I used to own, and that is my “special” little Chinese pot, that I only use for my special teas. I’ve plenty of other ideas and plans which I’m not telling anyone as I know with some of you lot someone will pinch ’em.So, just by talking I’ve found out a lot today.
Ray (who describes himself as a grumpy old git), has been messaging me through expat.com, and he gave me some great advice on opening a bank account. I was able to walk straight in and start the process without any problems, (and you’ll see the problems I’ve had when I re-post SMILING) which will be incorporated into this blog, along with all the others, so everyone can keep track, not that I’m expecting anyone to want to, but it helps focus me, (and I do admit I can be a bit random at times).