Hardcore Welsh | Powerhouse Cities | Holiday Exchange

There were some mixed emotions among Welsh sports fans this week.  On Wednesday, the former Welsh and British & Irish Lions captain, Sam Warburton, announced his retirement at the age of just 29 - with 79 Test caps to his name.  On the men's ATP tennis circuit, Warburton would still be considered young (you'll recall that all four of the semi-finalists at Wimbledon were in their thirties), but rugby is a very different game.  After failing to recover from neck and knee surgery, the former flanker has been forced to admit that the immense physical demands of the modern game have finally taken their toll stating "my body was unable to give me back what I had hoped for".  Yet just as Wales were digesting this sad news, fellow Welshman Geraint Thomas was battling through the Alps on his way to securing both the coveted Yellow Jersey and impressive back-to-back stage wins in the Tour de France.  Thomas is a new Welsh sporting hero in-the-making and (like Warburton) he is having to do it the hard way.  Not only does he have to contend with arduous Alpine climbs - Thomas won his second stage by winning the 13.2 km ascent to the summit of Alp d'Huez, which tops out at 10,930 ft - but, as a member of Team Sky, he is also having to contend with some rather unsavory spectators lining the route.  Only on Friday, Thomas was forced to plead for "a bit of decency" after he was spat at by unruly crowds, whilst fellow rider Chris Froome was allegedly punched.  Warburton took some huge hits from the opposition, but at least rugby fans stay in their seats!   

In the UK, the St Bride's Key Cities investment strategy was designed to identify those cities outside London with the best long-term growth prospects.  The Weekly has therefore been thumbing through Irwin Mitchell's Summer 2018 Powerhouse City Growth Tracker with more than a passing interest.   So what were Irwin Mitchell's key findings?  The top three cities for GVA growth in Q1 2018 were Cambridge, Ipswich and Reading.  Cambridge is set to hold onto top spot until at least the end of the year, but Milton Keynes (currently in 4th spot) is set to overtake it in the next decade.  Both of these economies benefit from the booming tech and life sciences sectors in the UK and, along with Oxford (ranked here at no.8), form the high-knowledge cluster of the Cambridge - Milton Keynes - Oxford corridor.  Interestingly, if you extended this corridor at either end it would reach Ipswich (2nd) and Reading (3rd).  Take it one stage further and you'd include Norwich too, the fifth fastest growing UK City.  And before you accuse The Weekly of a wholly unjustified southern bias, Leeds tops the league table for employment and Doncaster gets a special mention for entrepreneurship due to its high rate of start-ups, with 63.8 new business 'births' per 10,000 people.   

It's that time of year!  Schools have broken up, bags are packed, and you're off on a well-deserved foreign holiday with a spring in your step.  However, unless you've been cleverly stashing foreign currency for the last few months, the initial 'holiday high' this summer might be rather short-lived. Following the release of ONS figures which showed lower than expected inflation (reducing the likelihood of the Bank of England raising interest rates in August), the value of the pound has slumped to its lowest level for almost 9 months.  What does that mean for your holiday?  Well, on Friday, the Moneycorp bureau at Stansted airport was offering just €0.89 to the pound, one of the lowest rates ever seen.  Outrageous!  And even more so given that the pound was worth €1.12 on the official foreign exchange market!  So, if you're hoping (as you'd normally expect) to exchange a wad of your hard-earned pounds for an even larger bundle of foreign notes, you may be rather disappointed.  Then again, who needs to go abroad these days?  With the heatwave showing no signs of abating, it is probably just as hot at home!