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...
Stonehaven is set to have the best Hogmanay party outside of Edinburgh after Scots rockers Simple Minds said they would join the celebrations. The band will set Stonehaven alight as they headline the town’s Open Air in the Square event against the backdrop of the traditional fireball swinging parade. That has already sparked a race to snap up hotels and tickets from across Europe and as far afield as the USA. However, as a bonus to locals, 1,000 tickets are to be released at Stonehaven’s Feein’ Market on Saturday at the reduced price of £20. After that, tickets will be £30 plus booking fee. A spokesman for the band said they were looking forward to bringing in the New Year with fans at the famed Hogmanay event. The rockers scored a string of hit singles and are perhaps best known for their 1985 hit Don’t You (Forget About Me) from the soundtrack of the John Hughes film The Breakfast Club. Last year’s Hogmanay concert, featuring Scottish favourites the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Blazin’ Fiddles, attracted a crowd of more than 5,000 revellers, despite horrendous flooding in the days before. David Lawman, a member of the Stonehaven Festivals and Events Committee, said: “This is simply a dream come true for us. “We are thrilled and delighted these music legends have agreed to come to Stonehaven for our big Hogmanay party. Last year when we revealed our plans, they said it couldn’t be done. “But with a great deal of effort from our small but dedicated team of volunteers, we pulled it off in grand style, staging a Hogmanay party that was a complete sell-out and second only to Edinburgh. “This year we will be bigger and better and once again help boost Stonehaven’s economy. “Already two of the town’s hotels are fully booked and requests for tickets have been received from the USA and Europe and we hope to provide all age groups with a memorable night.”
Despite gathering clouds, the rain stayed away on Saturday for swimmers keen to enjoy their first dip of the season in heated waters of Stonehaven’s 81-year-old lido. Newtonhill Pipe Band and pool mascot Splasher got proceedings under way on Saturday morning. The Friends group, which formed to secure the future of the pool when it was threatened with closure, is continuing to develop new initiatives to maintain its success and has already praised local businesses for sponsoring swims. The first of the popular midnight swims will take place in early July. Anyone interested in sponsorship can contact the friends via firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Elma McMenemy on 01569 750700.
Anticipation is building ahead of this year’s fireballs ceremony in Stonehaven. More than 40 people are expected to take part in the popular Hogmanay event in which people swing fireballs around their head down the town’s High Street. Spectator numbers were limited to 8,500 at last year’s event due to the effects of flooding in the town just before Christmas. Stonehaven Fireballs Association vice-chairman Martin Sim said this year’s limit would be 10,500, but advised people to turn up early to guarantee a spot. He said: “Last year the lights along beach walkway were out as a result of the flooding the previous week. “The police and local authority wanted to limit the numbers just in case there was any type of incident and people lost their footing. “The message again this year is don’t leave it too late to arrive or you may find the barriers have been closed. “I would advise people to turn up at least 20 minutes before midnight, otherwise they may have to be turned away. “Unfortunately, the geography of the town limits the number of exits and we have to be mindful of that in our planning.” Stonehaven’s Open in the Square event in Market Street featuring Simple Minds is now sold out. This follows last year’s successful event, when 5,000 people watched the Red Hot Chilli Pipers perform at the town’s Hogmanay party. Prior to the fireballs getting under way there will be entertainment from street drummers and Stonehaven Pipe Band. The organisers are still looking for marshals to help out on the night, although people are not able to take swing fireballs without being part of the fireballs association. “We still prefer that they do a certain amount of goodwill work towards the organisation before they swing,” said Martin, who will be taking part for the 37th time. “As long as I’ve got two legs I’ll be taking part.” If there is a repeat of the flooding experienced last year, the organisers will again assess whether it’s viable for the ceremony to take place.
The deadline is looming for a decision on Perth’s new £25 million state-of-the-art sports facility. Mike Robinson, the newly elected chair of Live Active Leisure (LAL) wants the PH20 project to be a “jewel in the crown” for Perth and Kinross, but acknowledges its future will have to be determined by spring. https://vimeo.com/85027545 If built in full, the project would see new swimming pools and an upgraded ice rink built on the site of the existing Perth Leisure Pool and Dewar’s Centre. 20 different sports would be made available to users. The main drawback is a £15 million funding gap, but Mr Robinson emphasised LAL have been doing everything possible to bridge that, having previously raised £10m for the proposal. “Obviously what we want to deliver is the full scheme but we’ll have to make a decision fairly quickly, probably by spring,” he said. https://vimeo.com/85029074 “We still want to deliver the full product basically – simple as that. The issue is how do you raise the money? We’ve approached everyone, from the Scottish Government, European grant sources and Sport Scotland but funding is a complex process. “The last couple of years we have gone around and spoken to just about everybody but it’s not all about rattling the can. We’ve made progress but we don’t have definitive answers on funding.” Mr Robinson said LAL are “actively” seeking funding to provide all the sports facilities envisaged nearly 10 years ago. He feels current sports centres in Perth are “getting older” and is asking businesses in the area to back the project. “We know we should deliver the full scheme – much better flumes, better swimming pools, the integrated ice rink and even high rope courses,” he continued. “What we have to ensure is that people in the local area really want this to happen. Fundamentally, we believe we need PH20 in order to provide affordable sport in the area. “People who move to Perth want high quality sports venues so we really can’t afford not to proceed. We’ve spoken to the public, including different sports clubs, and having raised the expectation we need to deliver.” Jim Moyes, LAL’s chief executive, added: “Perth city is hopefully going through a period of dramatic regeneration and we see PH20 as being a very significant part of the way forward. “This is a great opportunity for Perth but we have a few bridges to cross.”
A Broughty Ferry woman braved strong tidal currents in cold open water and dodged massive cargo ships to swim the English Channel. Mhairi Murdoch, 29, swam the 35km stretch in 10 hours 43 minutes last Thursday. The junior doctor has been open-water swimming for over 20 years and is a member of Ye Amphibious Ancients Bathing Association (YAABA), who are based in Broughty Ferry. She said: "I am so pleased to have completed the crossing and also a little bit surprised. "In a year, only around 40% of those who try to do the Channel crossing are able to finish it. I was lucky. "I have always had a joke with my sister that I would swim the Channel, and after moving to London I decided to go for it. "She was there to support me and is the reason I got in to open-water swimming- she always wanted to swim the Tay when we were little. "In fact, she joined me in the last 15 minutes of my swim, as I approached the French coast. "Despite having lived all over the country, I've only ever been a member of one open-water swimming club, which is Ye Amphibious Ancients Bathing Association in Broughty Ferry." Joyce Macintosh, president of YABBA, said the club were "absolutely over the moon" about Mhairi's achievement. She said: "Mhairi is one of the few club members to have completed the Channel crossing. "There is a dearth of female swimmers, so her crossing is really a fantastic achievement. "She has been involved with YAABA for over 20 years now, and her forte is open water swimming, she is a true 'phibby'. "We are absolutely over the moon, the whole club are celebrating her achievement and we are so proud to have Mhairi as a club member. "Her route started on Shakespeare beach near Dover, and she made it to the French coast in 10 hours 43 minutes. "The Channel crossing is one of the most difficult open-water swims in the world. "The swimmer has to navigate a current which changes direction regularly throughout the day. "On top of that, it is possibly one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. As well as the challenging open-water conditions, there are strict rules to adhere to in order to complete the Channel swim. Competitors are not allowed to wear a neoprene wet-suit and must wear an approved swimming costume. Swimmers also must complete the crossing within a set time, otherwise they risk being carried out by the current which can change direction every six hours. The Ye Amphibious Ancients Bathing Association host open water swimming competitions throughout the summer, and are known for organising the 'New Year's Day Dook'. Last year's dook saw more than 300 participants brave the winter waters of the Tay, and according to YAABA has been a Broughty Ferry tradition since 1891.
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.
The seasonal countdown has begun to the opening of Stonehaven’s outdoor swimming pool next weekend. One of north-east Scotland’s great summertime attractions, it is the UK’s only heated seawater, Olympic-size open-air pool. It is set within an art deco listed building. The bath’s filtered water is heated to 29C, and has drawn people of all ages over the generations since it opened in 1934. Among the most popular events are the high season midnight swims. This year the Friends of Stonehaven Open Air Swimming Pool, the charity that manages the pool, are offering local businesses the chance to support them by sponsoring either a week or midnight swim. Funds raised will be used to buy additional poolside furniture and other new equipment for the four-star visitor attraction. Local residents formed the Friends group to ensure the future of the pool when it was threatened with closure in the 1990s. They work in close partnership with Aberdeenshire Council to ensure the maintenance, running and promotion of the pool. Friends’ vice-chairman David Culshaw said: “Sponsorship opportunities start at just £200 for a week early or late season and rise to £400 in high season, and we are delighted that two award-winning local businesses have already signed up the Bay Fish & Chips and Charles McHardy butchers.” Anyone interested in sponsorship can contact the friends via email@example.com, or call Elma McMenemy, who is co-ordinating sponsorship, on 01569 750700. Previous fundraising secured new, more user-friendly pool locker systems. The Friends are hoping for good weather for the season’s opening on May 30, but promise a day of music and fun at the pool whatever the weather.
More tickets for Stonehaven’s Hogmanay gig by rock legends Simple Minds have gone on sale. The boost for north-east music fans came after organisers finalised crowd space with Police Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council. Gig bosses from Open Air in the Square meet regularly with involved authorities to ensure the New Year event goes smoothly. The last batch of tickets will help event organisers to meet escalating production costs. Volunteers behind the event are also seeking company sponsorship. And businesses are invited to take advantage of big-screen advertising that will be on show at the Hogmanay celebrations. Stonehaven Festival and Events is offering VIP packages that would include tickets, a meal at the Carron Restaurant in Stonehaven, an all-seated covered guest area and refreshments. The organisers have stressed that no tickets will be available at the gate on the night. Fans were warned not to turn up without buying their tickets in advance and reminded that all children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. The concert will run in tandem with Stonehaven’s fireballsceremony in the Old Town’s High Street. Tickets for Simple Minds are available at www.oaits.org
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