Giving something back to the animals in our country

As a nation of animal lovers, it is no wonder that there are thought to be around 9 million dogs and 8 million cats
living here in the UK and a staggering 51 million pets living in domestic homes across the United Kingdom. Animal art is also becoming more and more popular with people choosing to animal prints up on their walls and you can also
buy Cat Lap trays from places like
or perhaps grab one for a friend for Christmas.

Due to the large numbers of animals here in the UK it is a sad inevitability that some of these will end up as strays on the streets or being mistreated in their own homes. This is where the RSPCA and various rescue charities come into
play. Following on from their yearly analysis the RSPCA reported that around every 30 seconds someone dials their animal cruelty line and it was reported that they received over a million calls in 2017. A million calls is a vast number of animal cruelty and welfare issues for the organisation to deal especially as they only have around 500 active animal staff working for them in roles such as animal welfare officers, animal collection officers and inspectors.

The RSPCA was first established in 1824 when it was originally named the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals before the Royal patronage was established in 1840 by Queen Victoria. The organisation deals with a vast
number of cases each year as well as help sick and injured animals belonging to owners who can not afford for their veterinary care and they also rehome numerous animals each year. The figures are astounding:

In 2017 some of the figures included:
. Over 114,000 animals rescued from their current environments
. Over 44,000 animals were found new homes
. Investigation of over 140,000 cruelty complaints
. Just under 1,500 convictions against those individuals who broke the law in   relation to the protection and welfare of animals
. Over 200,000 animals were taken to the RSPCA
veterinary practices to be microchipped, neutered and to be treated for a variety of illnesses and injuries.

The number of convictions compared to the number of investigations that take place each year is incredibly low, andthis can be due to the difficulties in taking these kinds of cases to court and providing sufficient evidence to prosecute an individual.

Which are the best Christmas events to visit this year?

With Christmas ads on the airwaves and Christmas songs in the shops, it’s that time of year again. Why not get out and about and enjoy some of the great Christmas events in Gloucestershire. Whether you meet Santa himself or cheer and boo at the panto there’s so much to enjoy!

Enjoy mulled wine at a Christmas market

There’s no shortage of Christmas markets spreading cheer and goodwill throughout Gloucester this Christmas. Cheltenham delivers a delightful outdoor shopping experience with over 40 stalls, while the Dean Heritage Centre brings a Victorian flavour to the festivities. Meanwhile, the iconic Gloucester Cathedral promises carols on the hour at their Christmas market which takes place in the beautiful cloisters.

Meet Santa

Father Christmas is everywhere in Gloucester this year, putting in appearances at the Regent Arcade in Cheltenham and the Cotswolds Clubhouse. At the Slimbridge Wetlands Centre
you can enjoy breakfast or tea with the elves and post a letter direct to the North Pole. The whole family will also love the opportunity to see the majestic wild swans and geese being given their evening feed on the enchanting floodlit lake.

Take in a Christmas show

People of Gloucester boiler service time is here again! Oh no it isn’t! Oh yes it is! If you’ve already arranged your annual service with a local company
then it’s time to relax with a festive trip to the theatre.

Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre has a packed programme of shows for all the family this Christmas, from the children’s classic The Velveteen Rabbit to Dickens’ Old Curiosity Shop. Star of the show is the annual panto – this year it’s Aladdin, directed by Blue Peter’s Peter Duncan and it’ll have you cheering, booing and laughing out loud! There’s also Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in Stroud, and a spectacular Dick Whittington at the Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury.

An alternative Christmas

Want to try something different this year? Stagecoach West is offering a Friends and Family Explorer ticket so you don’t need to miss a single Christmas light switch on and you can leave the car at home. Use your ticket to head for Hip Hopmas Eve at Cafe Rene in Gloucester to groove to some old school hip hop classics or head for the Regent Arcade and sign up for Elf School!

Best Investment Ideas and Best Safe Investments for 2012

Here we list some of the best investment ideas and tackle the challenge of finding the best safe investments for 2012. What might appear to be one of the best investment ideas to the uninformed could turn out to be one of the worst.

Looking at the big picture for investment ideas in 2012, moderation in asset allocation and a balanced investment portfolio will be the most basic key to success. There are 4 asset classes, and average investors need to spread their money across at least the first three to keep their overall portfolio risk moderate. The 4 categories in asset allocation are: safe investments, bonds, stocks and alternative investments like gold and real estate (optional). Asset allocation can be simplified, because there are mutual funds available to average investors that represent each of the 4 asset classes. Now let’s get more specific about the best investment ideas for 2012 starting with safe investments.

Safe investments earn interest and do not fluctuate in price. You will need to look outside of mutual funds in 2012 to find the best safe investments because record low interest rates have taken yields on money market securities (and hence money market funds) down to just about zero. One of the best investment ideas if you have an account with a discount broker or major mutual fund company is to shop for one-year CDs paying higher rates if you can’t get competitive rates from your local bank. Do not tie your money up for longer periods just to earn a little more interest. One of these days interest rates will go back up and you will be locked in at a lower rate and face penalty charges if you cash in early.

Finding the best safe investments will be truly challenging in 2012, but here are some more investment ideas. If you are in a retirement plan like a 401k that has a fixed or stable account option do not overlook it. You can often get a much higher interest rate there (maybe 4% to 5%) than anywhere else outside of your retirement plan. If you own an older retirement annuity or universal life insurance policy, it might have a fixed account you can add money to that is guaranteed to never pay less than 3% or 4%. Remember, truly safe investments like U.S. Treasury bills and bank money market and savings accounts are paying WAY LESS than 1%!

Over the past 30 years bonds and bond funds have become a favorite with investors because they have been consistent performers and returned on average about 10% per year… basically about equal to what stocks have returned, but with considerably less risk. Many investors have fallen in love with their bonds funds and consider them to be among the world’s best safe investments. Bond funds are NOT safe investments. They have performed well since 1981 (when interest rates and inflation were at record highs) for one primary reason. Both inflation and interest rates have been falling for 30 years, which has sent bond prices higher. Loading up on bond funds now is NOT one of the best investment ideas for 2012. In fact, it is one of the worst investment ideas.

When interest rates and/or inflation turn around and head upward bond funds, especially those that hold long-term bond issues, will be losers. That’s how bonds work. One of the very best investment ideas for 2012 is to sell your long-term bond funds if you own any, and switch to funds holding bonds with average maturities of about five years. These are called intermediate-term bond funds; and average investors should have some money invested here as part of their asset allocation strategy to add balance to their investment portfolio. These are not truly safe investments, but they are much safer than long-term funds.

My best investment ideas in the stock department focus on stock funds. Do not go heavily into the more aggressive funds that invest primarily in growth and/or small company stocks. These pay little if anything in dividend income and tend to be more risky and volatile than the average stock fund. Go with funds that invest in high quality large-company stocks with excellent dividend paying histories. Look for funds that are paying 2% or more in dividends. One of the best investment ideas for 2012 and beyond: invest in no-load funds with low yearly expenses. No-load means no sales charges, and low expenses mean higher net returns to the investor.

Alternative investments include the likes of real estate, gold and other precious metals, natural resources, commodities, foreign investments and so on. One of the best investment ideas for managing a truly balanced investment portfolio is to include this fourth asset class as well. The simplest way for the average investor to add these alternatives to their portfolio is with mutual funds that specialize in these areas or sectors. My best investment ideas here: don’t go heavily into any one area, and don’t chase after a sector (like gold) just because it’s hot. Real estate and natural resources funds would be my picks as two of the best investment ideas in the alternative investments asset class.

Moderation and diversification across the asset classes will be the key to asset allocation in 2012. I have also listed some specific best investment ideas for keeping the average investor in the game and out of serious trouble should the investment scene turn ugly. Above all else memorize this: long-term bond funds are not among the best safe investments for 2012. They are not safe investments, period.

Investing – How To Choose The Best Option

Investors are increasingly forced to choose from a proliferation of investment options. They also have to deal with contradictory advice on how to achieve their financial goals and how to invest the savings they have accumulated during their lifetime. If you consider that there are more than 7000 mutual funds available in the United States alone, and thousands of insurance products worldwide, making the choice that will satisfy them ever after is daunting, to say the least.

No wonder people so often ask the rather general question: Which investment is best? The first part of the answer is easy: No single investment is ‘the best’ under all circumstances for all investors. Personal circumstances, goals and different people’s needs differ, as do the characteristics of different investments. Secondly, one asset class’s strength in certain circumstances could be another’s weakness. It is therefore important to compare investments according to relevant criteria. The art is to find the appropriate investment for each objective and need.

The following are the most important criteria:

  • the goal of the investment
  • the risk the investor can handle
  • liquidity required
  • taxability of the investment
  • the period until the financial goal is reached
  • last but not least, the cost of the investment.

THE GOAL

Goals determine the characteristics sought in an investment. You will be in a position to choose the most appropriate investment only when you have decided on your short-, medium- and long-term goals. The following generic goals are normally involved:

Emergency fund

Emergency fund money should be readily available when needed, and the value of the fund should be equal to about six months’ income. Money market funds are excellent for this purpose. While these funds do not perform much higher than inflation, their benefit is that capital is saved and is easily accessible.

If you already have a ready emergency fund covering more than six months’ income, you could consider a more aggressive mutual fund

Capital protection

If your primary aim is capital protection, you will have to be satisfied with a lower growth rate on the investment. Those above 50 are normally advised to be conservative in their investment approach. While this may for the most part be sound advice, you should also keep an eye on the risk of inflation, so that the purchasing power of your money does not depreciate. It is not the nominal value of the capital that should be protected, but the inflation-adjusted one. At an annual inflation rate of 6%, $1 million today will buy the same as $174 110 in 30 years’ time. A 50 year-old with $1 million would therefore have to lower his living standard substantially if he only retains the $1 million until he was 80.

Conservative investments like those listed above should form the normal basis for providing an income. Because of inflation risk, investments should be structured so that they can at least keep up with inflation. This means that at least a percentage of the investment source providing the income should be made up of other asset classes like property and equity mutual funds. The percentage would differ according to individual and economic circumstances.

Investors fortunate enough to have their basic budget provided for by a conservative fund could consider increasing their income with commercial property funds and tax-free income from dividends paid out by listed shares.

Capital growth

If an investor’s primary goal is to achieve capital growth, the real rate of return should be higher than inflation. This implies greater risk to capital in the short term. Investors aiming at capital growth should not be apprehensive, as they will reap the rewards in the long term.

The history of equity prices over the past 100 years proves equity investments to be the best performer, followed by property. This does not mean you should buy either of these investments blindfolded. Wait until the quality shares in which you are interested are trading at inexpensive price levels.

RISK

The investment with a history of the highest growth is not necessarily the one to choose. The Standard Bank’s Gold Fund increased by 178% during the period 13 August 2001 – 24 May 2002 (284 days). Judging only on the growth of the fund during this period, it performed exceptionally well. But would it be the right investment for a retiree? During the 805 days following this, the same fund experienced a negative growth rate of 44%! The problem with an investment that decreases by this percentage is that it will not reach its previous peak by increasing again by 44%. This is because the growth this time will take place from a lower base, so in fact the investment would have to increase by approximately 80%.

LIQUIDITY

Hard assets like Persian carpets, works of art and antique furniture may be good investments in the long term, but unfortunately they are not very liquid. The same is true of certain shares in smaller companies. Money market funds, on the other hand, are very liquid, but the returns may not always be as good as those from other investments. The need to liquidise the investment quickly is therefore also a criterion to consider when evaluating investments.

TAXABILITY

The taxability of an investment has a considerable impact on its value to the investor. When comparing the returns on different investments, the return after tax has been deducted should be used. The investor should always ask what will be left in his pocket after tax deduction.

PERIOD

Conservative investments with no potential for high returns are suitable for shorter periods, while investment-objectives with longer time horizons aspire to achieving higher returns. Money market funds are suitable for periods of one or two years. Income and conservative asset allocation funds for three or four years and flexible asset allocation funds, commercial property funds and value equity funds may be chosen for longer periods, dependent on the economic and interest cycle and the propensity of the investor to accept risk.

COSTS

The costs involved in an investment are normally things like administrative cost and commission. The percentage of the costs to the investment amount directly affects the value of the investment. Many of the currently available investment products are structured in such a way that investors can negotiate commission.

CONCLUSION

No investment strategy blueprint is going to be perfect for everyone’s circumstances. Investment opportunities should therefore be examined critically before any decision is made. It should also be kept in mind that there are different companies managing specific funds under the investment categories referred to above. Some are more effectively managed than others. Investors should therefore research investments as well as the managers thoroughly before investing. Otherwise, they could appoint professional asset managers to do so on their behalf. Time spent determining the type of investment you really need is time invested in your future financial well-being.

Mexican Grand Prix Facts

If you love Formula 1 racing, maybe you’ve always dreamed of watching a race
somewhere hot and exotic. The Mexican Grand Prix fits the bill perfectly and has
taken place at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City a grand total of
19 times since 1963. After more than 20 years of not hosting the race, the Mexican
Grand Prix returned to the F1 racing calendar in 2015. For your own once-in-a-
lifetime trackside experiences, visit the Mexico F1 Paddock Club with
edgeglobalevents.com/f1-paddock-club/f1-paddock-club-mexico/
The History of the Mexican Grand Prix
The very first Mexican race took place in 1962 where it was staged at the new
Magdalena Mixhuca circuit in Mexico City. The park also hosted events like
basketball, field hockey, track cycling and fencing for the Summer Olympics of 1968.
By 1963, the circuit became part of the Formula 1 Championship. However, it
wouldn’t be long before the Mexican race lost its place on the F1 calendar mostly
due to its incredible popularity. The organisers felt they could not control the
hundreds of thousands of spectators causing a safety issue for drivers. The last race
until 2015 happened in 1970 and was won by Ferrari team driver Jacky Ickx.

To help with safety, the circuit was partly redesigned and given a new name – the
Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. It was named after two local racing brothers who
both died in racing accidents – Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez. It briefly returned to
the F1 calendar in 1986 and was a favourite with drivers, particularly the nerve-
wracking final corner named Peraltada. Sadly, the track fell out of favour once again
as organisers couldn’t fund the improvements needed to keep the track up to date.
Fast forward to 2015 and the Grand Prix once again returned to the Autodromo
Hermanos Rodriguez. The circuit had been redesigned with the main alteration being
a slow-speed section near the stadium which effectively halved the perilous final
Peraltada corner. Each race is a sell-out and it’s very well supported by local fans as
well as international ones.
Mexican Grand Prix Fact File
The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is the highest track on the F1 calendar at
2,240m above sea level. At the other end of the spectrum, the lowest track is the Yas
Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi and the Sochi Autodrom which both lie less than 1m
above sea level.

The driver Jim Clark is the only driver to complete a ‘Grand Slam’ at the Mexican
track in 1963. He took pole position, the quickest lap and won the race.
It was at the 1986 Mexican Grand Prix that driver Gerhard Berger had his first of 10
Grand Prix wins. He achieved this incredible success in a Benetton B186 and won
the Mexican race on just one set of Pirelli tyres.
The last turn on the newly designed circuit was renamed after British racing driver
Nigel Mansell in 2015 after winning the race twice in both 1987 and 1992.