Not sure about the first issue apart from make sure that you're html/xhtml is in the proper order.
Try something like this:
2. Secondly, I may prefer to set tabbing to some point on the page to get accessibility optimized. Say on the first link on the page ("skip to content"). How is this done so the chrome is avoided. Advice appreciated.
Make the tabindex value the lowest value on the page if you want to tab there first. Although, if your code is in the proper order; it should go there without needing the tabindex attribute/value.
<a href="#maincontent" tabindex="01">skip to content</a>
<h1><a name="maincontent" id="maincontent"></a>Heading</h1>
<p>This is the first paragraph</p>