Cars

Audi A5 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro SE 230 PS S Tronic

Just over a year ago, we took an Audi A5 Cabriolet down to Cornwall for 5 days to put it through its paces, but the weather was appalling for all five days, so we did not experience the full pleasure of driving a convertible as not once were we able to have the roof down!

So, I contacted Audi again and explained that we would like to write a review of the latest Audi A5 Quattro Cabriolet, and they very kindly agreed to let us revisit this car.  The model we were lent was the A5 cabriolet, 2.0 TF SI Quattro SE 230 PS S Tronic finished in metallic Monsoon grey with a black roof and red fine Nappa leather interior.  The many extras increased the cost from a basic price of £37,750 to £60,940 on the road which may seem a lot but in comparison with its rivals, from Mercedes Benz and BMW it is cheaper and in my opinion a very stylish, luxury convertible that looks as good on the inside as it does from the outside.

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Fishing

Simon Cooper of Fishing Breaks Newsletter Heading

 

Someone asked me an interesting question last week: what would you do if given precisely 5 years to live, assuming your death was to be neither traumatic or fearful (a big ask I know). My immediate answer was to do more fishing. Then I considered the question again – family, travel, money – well, they all crowded in but in the end I circled back to fishing. As former Liverpool football manager Bill Shankley replied when asked whether football was life and death, “No, it’s more important than that.”

Well, I’m not intending to die just yet (make that my epitaph) but I’m beginning to think Bill may have had a point. Let’s face it you’ll never be able to re-live the year again. Once the days are gone, they are gone. The cadence of the summer months can’t be jammed into single day or week. So, having decided on the principle of more fishing I think I better set a few parameters.

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Holidays

Chalet St Peres in St Martin de Belleville

The Vintage Magazine, that is the editor and his wife, two daughters with accompanying husbands and their respective two children apiece recently spent a fabulous week skiing at St. Martin de Belleville, actually that is not technically correct, we stayed in St. Martin but skiied in the vast area of the Three Valleys (aka Les Trois Vallées if you are French) which incorporates,  Courcheval, Val Thorens, Méribel, Les Menuires, Saint Martin De Belleville, La Tania, Orelle and Brides les Bains; that makes 600 kilometres of slopes to explore and a resort to suit every taste and budget and every level of skiing ability from wonderfully groomed blue pistes to vertiginous couloirs.  There are in fact 321 Alpine ski runs made up of 51 green, 132 blue, 106 red and 32 black making this area perfect for families.

We chose St. Martin de Belleville as we had stayed here about 12 years ago and had fallen in love with the authentic charm of this Savoie region village but also because of the high speed gondolas and chairlifts which whisked us off and up into all the other ski areas.

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Business & Finance

London Skyline for Christopher Jackson's Blog, The View From Lawrence Street

Another day, another loss. As commemorations and mourning begins for the victims in Belgium, a numbness has settled across Europe. Things weren’t supposed to be like this anymore. The world was supposed to be different. Europe was supposed to be different.

Like many of my friends I found the latest attacks upsetting, but no longer shocking. We have seen the images before and seen the same motions performed by our leaders, individuals in our social media circle and figures in our respective communities. As sad as it may be, it seems that a dawning realisation has settled across Europe that these attacks are no longer “abnormal”, but rather a new normal.

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Business & Finance

Mountstone Partners Ltd

 

Mountstone Partners create and manage bespoke investment portfolios for wealthy families, charities and trusts.  CEO James Keen publishes a monthly investment update for their clients.

Here he summarises the key points from the Chancellor’s budget that he thinks will specifically have an impact on you as an investor, ranging from changes in pension legislation to ISAs to savings.  There’s a section covering fags, booze and gambling tax and apologies if all/any of these aren’t your thing.  He promises that he is not casting personal aspersions by including them!

Highlights of the budget include a major reduction in capital gains tax for all, which is great news.  We also saw the ISA regime for under 40s improved significantly.  Also there was no change to personal pension legislation, as promised.

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Business & Finance

DWM Brass Plaque

Devonshire Wealth Management is a boutique London-based wealth and asset management firm. They offer bespoke advice to clients with whom they nurture and value long-standing relationships. Central to Devonshire Wealth Management’s approach is taking time to understand what clients want out of life and how to meet their desired financial goals. They use state of the art technology to help guide people through their financial journey.

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Cars

Jaguar XE SE 163PS Diesel Auto Saloon at Luton Hoo Hotel

We were given a Jaguar XE to review and to give it a thorough test we took it to Luton Hoo Hotel on the Bedfordshire, Herefordshire border to put it through its paces.

Just looking at this sports saloon and its pleasing streamlined stylish body gives a clue of what lies within.  Jaguar have excelled themselves with this model, the interior is comfortable and spacious with gloss black finishes to the door trims and their signature ‘Riva Hoop’ sweeping above the instrument panel and taking pride of place in the sweep of the fascia is the 8 inch touchscreen infotainment system – apologies here for such a ghastly word but I suppose it explains what this does – which brings fast access to all the car’s features and functions.  And on the automatic models, which our car was, is Jaguar’s unique rotary drive selector which rises up from the central console – a particular favourite of ours.

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Business & Finance

The View from Lawrence Street Blog by Christopher Jackson

The starting gun has been fired and now begins the race. By the end of June 2016, the UK will have made the most important decision it has faced in 25 years. Do we stay or do we go?

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Hotels & Places to Stay

Luton Hoo Hotel Golf Course and Spa

Luton Hoo is yet another example of a once powerful and influential family losing their wealth and being forced to sell the ‘family jewels’.   Luton Hoo was one of England’s grandest stately homes, and its sale marked the final episode in the sad story of the Phillips family, who inherited the Grade I listed mansion in 1977.

When staying there one is surrounded by the history of Luton Hoo which plays a major part of the whole guest experience. So it is worth learning a little of the background story to this home and to those who had once lived and loved here.

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Business & Finance

Mountstone Partners Ltd

Mountstone Partners create and manage bespoke investment portfolios for wealthy families, charities and trusts.  CEO James Keen publishes a monthly investment update for their clients.  Here is James Keen’s February Newsletter – please contact him if you have any queries about the markets or indeed the portfolio.

It has been the worst start to a year for equity markets since 2008.  All major indices have fallen on fears of continuing slowdown in China, potential default concerns surrounding the European banks, political risk emanating from a potential Brexit and a weak corporate earnings season.  Over 1 year the Hang Seng has fallen 22.6%, The FTSE 100 by 15.2% and the S&P 500 by 10%.

With this backdrop it is understandable to worry about the future prospects for markets in 2016, however in the short-term investors will often overreact in such conditions.  We believe that this is the case now, epitomised by Japanese equities trading on their lowest price to earnings ratios ever at the same time as Japan having its best macroeconomic conditions for decades.

However, in this edition of our regular market overview we have focused on an asset class that is often considered uncorrelated with equities – high yield bonds. These debt instruments are fixed interest investments and therefore often mistakenly seen as a hedge/protection against falling equities.  We attempt to dispel that myth and argue that high yield bonds should be considered as a “risk-on” asset just as equities are.  They can (and have) delivered excellent returns in the right economic conditions but over the past 12 months, high yield has had a torrid time, just like equities. Those investors who own large exposure in this asset class should therefore be very aware of what they own.

Will high yield bonds recover if equities start to perform well again?  We consider the various factors influencing demand and prices of these investments and determine whether or not they now look good value after a prolonged period of poor performance.

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