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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space…


VIDEO: Striking porters sound their anger outside health minister’s Dundee offices

June 26 2015

A cacophony of horns sounded outside Health Minister Shona Robinson’s offices in Dundee today as striking hospital porters gathered to accuse the Dundee-based MSP of holding up pay talks between their union and NHS Tayside. Ms Robison was unavailable for comment, but Unite union representatives were happy to have their say on the ongoing strike. Spokesman Gary Miller the latest protest had been organised in a bid to secure a resolution to the long-running all-out strike, which has now lasted 11 weeks.


Landmark Fife hotel with links to Robinson Crusoe goes on the market

February 23 2018

A quayside hotel with links to the real life Robinson Crusoe is on the market with a price tag of more than £900,000. The Crusoe Hotel combines a stunning location with historical character, including a footprint supposedly left by Alexander Selkirk, the man said to have inspired author Daniel Defoe to write his classic tale. The 16-bedroom hotel in Selkirk's birthplace of Lower Largo in Fife's picturesque East Neuk, has been put up for sale by owner Stuart Dykes, who also recently sold Dunnikier House Hotel in Kirkcaldy. He and wife Lesley have announced plans to retire after almost 16 years at the helm. The hotel attracts a mixture of holidaymakers, commercial visitors and golfers, many of whom are attracted by the story of Selkirk, who spent four years marooned on an uninhabited island off the coast of South America in the early 1700s. The Robinson Crusoe theme is echoed throughout the rooms which include information boards about  Selkirk, who also has a statue dedicated to him nearby in the village. Alistair Letham, a director in the UK hotels agency team at Colliers International, said: "With the hotel's location on the harbour quayside in the favoured East Neuk of Fife and close to St Andrews, the Crusoe Hotel's availability is a wonderful, indeed possibly rare, opportunity to purchase  a well-established and popular business which new owners could easily develop further by putting their own style and stamp on a very attractive establishment." The original stone building includes 16 modern en-suite bedrooms, as well as two bars, the Castaway restaurant and a lounge where the "Alexander Selkirk footprint" is set as a feature in the floor. The hotel also includes part of the pier and harbour. Selkirk, who had been with a band of buccaneers in the South Pacific before being marooned, was rescued from Mas a Tierra Island, now renamed Robinson Crusoe Island, in 1709 and arrived in England two years later. His story was told by the essayist Richard Steele in 1713 and it is widely accepted that Defoe drew inspiration from these accounts for Robinson Crusoe.

BBC presenter taken off air following support for pay campaigner Carrie Gracie

January 9 2018

A BBC presenter was taken off air due to impartiality issues after she expressed solidarity with colleague and equal pay campaigner Carrie Gracie. Winifred Robinson, presenter on Radio 4 show You And Yours, was a notable absentee from Tuesday’s edition of the radio show, two days after posting her views on the BBC. Ms Gracie, the BBC’s former China editor, took a dramatic stand on the issue, accusing her employer of unlawful salary discrimination. Equal pay for equal work – it's the law – as Carrie says. See her letter@the times #carriegracie #IStandWithCarrie #EqualPay ~bbcwomen pic.twitter.com/F6ln38wsUJ— Winifred Robinson (@wrobinson101) January 8, 2018 Scores of her colleagues, including Ms Robinson, backed Ms Gracie’s stance on social media following the fall-out, with the likes of Naga Munchetty, Sarah Montague and Emma Barnett pledging their support. Ms Robinson, too, wrote: “Superb journalist, great China Editor. “What a mess to lose her from that post. @BBCCarrie #equalpay #istandwithcarrie”. Superb journalist, great China Editor. What a mess to lose her from that post. @BBCCarrie #equalpay #istandwithcarrie— Winifred Robinson (@wrobinson101) January 7, 2018 It was one of around 150 tweets and retweets addressing Ms Gracie’s accusations to feature on Ms Robinson’s Twitter account. Her removal from Tuesday’s edition of the consumer focus radio show meant she was not present to join in the discussion which focused on equal pay. BBC guidelines state: “When dealing with controversial subjects concerning the BBC, our reporting must remain duly impartial, as well as accurate and fair. “We need to ensure the BBC’s impartiality is not brought into question and presenters or reporters are not exposed to potential conflicts of interest. “It will be inappropriate to refer to either the BBC as ‘we’ or the content as ‘our’. “There should also be clear editorial separation between those reporting the story and those responsible for presenting the BBC’s case.” A BBC spokesman confirmed Ms Robinson would return to the show on Wednesday. (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By PA Reporters'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '9a2932c0-74e3-4bfc-984f-87cbef5f4d12'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:news,paservice:news:uk'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story-enriched'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'BBC presenter taken off air following support for pay campaigner Carrie Gracie'});


The home of Robinson Crusoe

August 11 2016

It’s almost impossible to drive to Lower Largo beach without casting an upward glance at the area’s most famous statue. Perched in an alcove at first floor level the figure, dressed in homemade clothes and leaning on a rifle, gazes out to sea, perhaps hoping to spot a ship that will rescue him. He is – of course – Alexander Selkirk, the man who inspired Robinson Crusoe. Novelist Daniel Defoe based his fictional castaway on the life of Selkirk, who spent four years marooned on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific Ocean. Selkirk grew up in Lower Largo and in 1885 the statue of Crusoe/Selkirk was erected. Number 101 Main Street forms the lower half of the building noted for the life size bronze statue. The one bedroom, stone-built flat is a stone’s throw from the beach. A cheerful red timber door opens into a vestibule that leads into the living/dining room where there’s a wood burning stove in the original stone fireplace. Table and chairs nestle beside the window. There’s a modern dining kitchen with two windows to the side and the double bedroom faces the front of the flat. A shower room completes the accommodation. The current owner runs the property as a holiday let but it could equally make a fine retirement property or weekend bolthole. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk 101 Main Street, Lower Largo is being sold by JMc Real Estate with a guide price of £125,000.


Lower Largo confident its 300-year link to Robinson Crusoe is not threatened by new book

June 18 2011

Evidence disputing that a Fife mariner was the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe has been cast adrift in the village where he was born. A new book has been published which challenges the long-held belief that Daniel Defoe’s famous character was based on Alexander Selkirk, of Lower Largo, who spent four years marooned on a deserted island. Author Katherine Frank claims that the fictional castaway was in fact modelled on English adventurer Robert Knox, who was held prisoner in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, in the 17th century. Lower Largo is proud of its connection to Crusoe and is even twinned with Robinson Crusoe Island, where Selkirk spent his solitary years. Owner of the village’s Crusoe Hotel, Stewart Dykes, this week rubbished Frank’s assertion and said there were far more similarities between Crusoe and Selkirk than Knox. Dismissing it as conjecture, he said, “We have this man Knox who was captured in the populous island of Ceylon and imprisoned for almost 20 years and we have Selkirk who was marooned alone on an island. I’m sure that Defoe took bits and pieces from lots of places and put them together. “The bottom line is that the main thread of the story was that Crusoe was marooned on a deserted island and Sri Lanka is not a deserted island nor ever has been. There are no similarities at all to Knox.” Unless there was a huge upsurge of interest in Frank’s book, he said it was highly unlikely that Lower Largo’s historic ties with the castaway would be loosened. Peter Aitken, chairman of Largo Area Community Council, is equally unconvinced by Frank’s claims.’Challenged’He said, “Other writers have challenged the link between Alexander Selkirk and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe before and will no doubt do so again in the future. Our link has lasted for over 300 years, which speaks for itself.” VisitScotland also reasserted the likeness of Crusoe’s fictional exploits and Selkirk’s ordeal. A spokesman said, “There is no doubt that the tale of Robinson Crusoe bears a remarkable similarity to the real-life adventures of Alexander Selkirk. “However, regardless of how much his story actually influenced Daniel Defoe when writing his most famous book, Selkirk was a fascinating character and a legend in his own right. “Visitors to Lower Largo and to Scotland will continue to be inspired by his story and he is worthy of his place in Scottish history.” Selkirk spent four years marooned on an island in the Juan Fernandez archipelago, off the coast of Chile, after a dispute with explorer William Dampier about the seaworthiness of his vessel. London-born Knox, who worked with his father for the East India Company, was held captive in Ceylon for 19 years. In Daniel Defoe, Robert Knox And The Creation Of A Myth, Frank points out that Defoe plagiarised parts of Knox’s memoirs for Captain Singleton and claims there are more similarities with Crusoe’s story than that of Selkirk. Among her arguments are that both Knox and Defoe were slave-traders, while Selkirk was not. Both also found solace in the Bible, while Selkirk did not have a Bible. While Selkirk was alone on his island, Knox was cared for by a ‘black boy’ while he has malaria and Robinson Crusoe also has a black boy.

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit – a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk


Robinson Crusoe park launched in Elie

April 25 2011

An adventure park celebrating Fife’s links with the world’s most famous fictional castaway has set sail. The Robinson Crusoe Adventure Park is the newest attraction at Elie Holiday Park. The fun-filled facility is part of a major investment programme at the East Neuk tourist resort, which is just a few miles from the birthplace of the sailor credited as the inspiration for Crusoe. Alexander Selkirk, born in Lower Largo in 1676, was marooned for four years on an uninhabited island in the Juan Fernandez archipelago, off the coast of Chile. It is widely believed that the author of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, based his title character on Selkirk. The impressive park, which opened on Saturday, takes the form of a two-masted sailing ship linked to a desert island. It is expected to be a massive hit with the many young visitors the park at Shell Bay expects to welcome over the summer. George Elles, managing director of Abbeyford Leisure (Scotland), which operates the park, said, “Fife offers a wonderful opportunity to explore and enjoy an incredible mix of coastal activities. “From screaming gulls to ancient mariners, there is always something to do and see. So we have characterised the area’s link to Robinson Crusoe and created a superb adventure park for all of our customers to enjoy.” The park was launched on Saturday-292 years to the day that Defoe’s timeless classic was published-by award-winning businessman John Parker, of Morton of Pitmilly, who is the chairman of the Fife Tourism Partnership. Mr Parker said, “From my own experience, children’s memories of places and fun that they had stay with them as they grow older. “I am sure that they will remember the magical times they had on holiday in Fife, and will be likely to return with their own children in the future.” The opening saw a range of activities staged, including rock pool guddles with rangers from Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, face-painting and balloon art. Storyteller Ron Fairweather took on the guise of Crusoe and captivated youngsters with his tales. Anstruther-based RNLI crew members visited and there was music from the Tullis Russell Mills Band. Donations were made to the RNLI and Fife Coast and Countryside Trust by Mr Elles.