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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...


Broughty Ferry beach passes water quality test

June 13 2013

Broughty Ferry beach has easily passed its first official test of water quality for the 2013 bathing season. Publication of the data from laboratory tests by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency comes only days after it was confirmed the beach has lost its Blue Flag status. This was because water quality dipped too often last year, thought to be caused by the run-off of agricultural waste from fields into the Tay estuary during heavy rains. Blue Flag status requires beaches to meet consistently the European guideline standard for the presence of bacteria. A pre-season test sample at Broughty beach achieved this standard and the first official sample, taken on June 6, has done the same. There are supposed to be fewer than 100 E coli and intestinal enterococci per 100 millimetres of water. The June 6 test found fewer than 10 per 100ml for both of the bugs. Water will be collected frequently and the results will be posted on Sepa’s website.

Mike Donachie

Are Saltires on strawberries an issue worth flagging up?

September 12 2016

It may be hard to swallow this but haggis really is British. I watched, bemused but sympathetic, as the politics of produce caused arguments in recent days and Scottish consumers found it hard to stomach seeing a Union Flag on food produced in Scotland. First, it was “the Great British Haggis” marketed in red, white and blue by a Fife company. Instead of quietly filling a groaning trencher, as is its wont, our national dish caused people to choke wi’ perfect scunner at the suggestion it might come from a larger isle. Next, it was berries. Tesco issued an explanation about UK-wide packaging for Scottish strawberries and Sainsbury’s had to follow suit thanks to a British flag appearing on some Perthshire blueberries. It was all a bit unsavoury. As someone who considers himself Scottish first and British second, I admit each case caused me to breathe in sharply through my teeth. Scottish berries (and especially Perthshire ones) are, in my opinion, incomparably wonderful and the idea of haggis being British had me checking it wasn’t an article from The Onion. But here’s the thing: that British flag is accurate. It is a matter of simple geography that Scotland is part of Britain, which is, in turn, part of the legal entity known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is itself part of the British Isles. These facts are undeniable, whatever the political and social hopes of many Scots. More problematic was the outrage that a simple flag could cause. I wouldn’t fly the Union Flag, because I feel it has colonialist connotations but for perhaps millions of people it’s part of their identity and that should be respected. To be offended by its appearance on food is, frankly, pointless. Whether it’s a good marketing move is another matter. I’d sooner buy something with a Saltire on it but I suppose the companies involved can do what they like, especially if, as reported, the larger English market has a different preference. But I hope we can all agree on one thing: British or Scottish, you can’t beat a big plate of mashed-up lungs – tasty.

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


Sample test relief for Broughty beach status

August 3 2010

The latest sample of water tested at Broughty Ferry beach is to be discounted by the authorities responsible for the coveted Blue Flag awards system. The sample collected on July 22 has been granted an "abnormal weather waiver," a step taken when unusually heavy rainfall is thought to have skewed the results. The news will come as a relief to officials and volunteers, who have worked tirelessly to achieve the high standards required for a Blue Flag beach. As The Courier reported last week, if Broughty beach racks up just one more below-par water quality result it will lose its hard-won status. However, a number of other criteria are taken into account, and representatives from Keep Scotland Beautiful, the organisation that runs the award scheme here, were at Broughty beach on Tuesday to spread the word to visitors on how they can help. Beach and coastal awards campaign co-ordinator Suzanne Roberts said the abnormal weather waiver means the sample will be taken out of the set of results considered when deciding if Broughty Ferry should retain its Blue Flag, though details of the water quality will still be posted on notice boards at the beach. "It is more important to us to make sure that people do know what the water quality is, providing information to the public so they can make informed choices," she added. Yesterday's event was essentially about environmental education, providing information on the need to clean up after dogs on the section of the beach they are allowed to visit, and reminding people not to leave their litter behind. "We are also educating members of the public about the Blue Flag and its importance to Broughty Ferry," Suzanne said. "It is a fun day and we have had activities like litter relays for the kids. Everybody has been great and we have had a lot of positive comments and a lot of people saying how much the beach has improved over the past few years. "We met people who hadn't been back here in 15 years. Their reaction was, 'What a difference', and they were really enjoying being here," she said.


Leven Beach loses its Blue Flag after water tests

July 18 2012

One of Fife's most popular beaches has lost its coveted Blue Flag. The international stamp of approval was withdrawn from Leven Beach after its water quality failed to meet top European standards. It was only announced in May that the flag was being flown for the third year in a row at the Kingdom bay, a favourite with visitors to the area. Although the bathing water quality has improved again and the beach is continuing to fly its Seaside Award flag, more than two sample failures mean the Blue Flag must be taken down for the rest of the summer. Samples taken on June 6 and 12 and July 10 had unacceptable levels of bacteria, possibly caused by heavy downpours. Derek Robertson, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, which awards Blue Flags in Scotland, said: ''The beach passed 32 strict criteria this year to obtain the Blue Flag, but unfortunately the Blue Flag only recognises beaches across the world with the top water quality. ''While we are all bitterly disappointed the Blue Flag has had to be withdrawn, we are pleased Leven will continue to be actively managed and that Seaside Award standards will be maintained, allowing visitors to access up-to-date information about the water quality. ''We would urge people to keep visiting the beach and to check the most recent water quality results on the information boards or online at sepa.org.uk.'' Confirmation of the cause of the water quality breach is awaited from SEPA, which conducts the tests. Chairman of Fife Council's Levenmouth area committee, Tom Adams, said: ''The water quality is back to high standard now, but the strict criteria for the Blue Flag award means we cannot fly the Blue Flag for the rest of the season. ''Leven beach will still have lifeguard cover for the remainder of the season and it will be maintained to the standard visitors and residents have come to expect. We hope to receive a Blue Flag for Leven Beach next year.'' SNP councillor for the Leven, Kennoway and Largo ward Alistair Hunter called for an urgent answer as to why bacteria levels in the water had risen. He said: ''We really need to get to the bottom of why the water quality has changed so much. ''We have a fantastic resource here and the last couple of years the beach has been busier than ever. ''The community is really proud of the Blue Flag it's the standard-bearer of good quality. ''I hope its loss won't have a detrimental impact for businesses and the reputation of the town.'' Local Labour councillor Charles Haffey said: ''I'm very, very sad this has happened. ''I hope we are in a position to regain the Blue Flag as soon as possible. ''I still believe Fife has safe, clean beaches and I certainly hope this won't deter people from coming to Leven for a holiday.'' Blue Flags are awarded to beaches which meet European standards on water quality, environmental education, information and management, safety and services. Seaside Award flags are awarded for meeting mandatory EU standards.


Rain puts Broughty beach blue flag at risk

July 29 2010

Broughty Ferry beach could be just one heavy rain shower away from losing its prestigious Blue Flag. Council leader Ken Guild admitted the beach is effectively on its "final warning" after a fourth water sample failed to meet the demanding standard set by Keep Scotland Beautiful when making the award. To make matters worse, it appears there is little anyone can do to rectify the situation but pray for a long spell of sunny weather. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) analyses water samples taken at the beach on at least 20 separate occasions during the bathing season, which runs from June to September. Only four below-par samples are allowed if the Blue Flag is to be retained. Unfortunately, of the 11 results published so far, just seven have met the higher "guideline" level of cleanliness and the remainder have only been good enough to reach the European Union's "mandatory" standard. The finger has been pointed at the recent heavy rain in Tayside, which is being blamed for washing animal manure and other contaminants into the river. Even so, with all Broughty's "get out of jail free" cards used up and at least a further nine tests still to go, only the most dedicated optimist would be prepared to put money on the popular beach's chance of hanging on to its Blue Flag. "We have been the victims of freak weather conditions and it's not the first time this has happened," said Councillor Guild. "I think the very heavy rain a couple of weeks ago has washed a lot of stuff out into the river further up and, of course, it ends up here. "This is a final warning sort of thing and unfortunately it seems we can expect some rather changeable weather so we are just praying that there will be no more floods in Perthshire." Apart from maintaining the highest water quality, Blue Flag beaches have to meet a number of rigorous criteria and demonstrate that they are generally well-run. To that end, a great deal of work has been put in to upgrade the beach in recent years. "As I have said before, tremendous credit is due to the council staff who brought the beach standard up to the present level," said Councillor Guild. "There is a feeling of frustration and it is something we just have to learn to live with, though I can assure everyone that the council will make every effort to ensure that the beach remains at a high standard." Broughty beach had its Blue Flag removed in 2007 when, again, unexpectedly heavy rainfall badly affected the water test results however, it won the honour back last year.


Silver Sands beach loses its shine as its Blue Flag gets red light

August 1 2012

One of Fife's most celebrated beaches has been dealt a blow after being stripped of its Blue Flag status. For the first time in 15 years, the Silver Sands at Aberdour has failed to meet the highest EU bathing water directive standards and is no longer a Blue Flag beach. This summer's torrential rainfall is believed to have caused a deterioration in water quality at the formerly pristine stretch of coast. Heavy rain can cause sewers to overflow, contaminating bathing water with bacteria from human waste. This has been identified as a potential source of the pollution by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa). Samples taken from the Silver Sands by Sepa on June 6 and 10 and July 17 only marginally exceeded the acceptable levels for bacteria. However, it was enough to deny the Fife attraction of its Blue Flag status for at least the rest of the season. It is not the first Fife beach to fall foul of the weather. Leven East beach also had its Blue Flag taken down after failing recent water tests, with heavy rainfall again blamed. Both were among six Fife beaches presented with the coveted flag, awarded by charity Keep Scotland Beautiful, during a ceremony at the Silver Sands on July 6. The region has four remaining Blue Flag beaches: Burntisland, Elie Harbour, Elie Woodhaven (Ruby Bay) and Kinghorn Pettycur Bay. Keep Scotland Beautiful urged the public to keep using the beach at Aberdour as although it has failed the strictest tests, it still boasts a Seaside Award. Chief executive Derek Robertson said: ''Aberdour Silver Sands beach has achieved the prestigious international Blue Flag award for 15 years, and the much-acclaimed Seaside Award for 19 years. ''The beach passed 32 strict criteria this year to obtain the Blue Flag, but unfortunately the Blue Flag only recognises beaches across the world with the top water quality. ''While we are all bitterly disappointed the Blue Flag has had to be withdrawn, we are pleased Aberdour Silver Sands will continue to be actively managed and that Seaside Award standards will be maintained. ''We would urge people to keep visiting the beach and to check the most recent water quality results on the information boards or online at www.sepa.org.uk.'' Arthur Lloyd, who chairs Aberdour Community Council, said: ''Obviously we're very disappointed. We've had a Blue Flag every year for a number of years and it's not been long since it was presented again this year. ''We're very proud of it and will make inquiries through Fife Council to see what, if anything, can be done to restore it. ''Hopefully it's a temporary blip and things will go back to normal.'' Mr Lloyd said the beach would continue to attract visitors, despite losing its status. He added: ''It's the weather that brings people to the beach. I'm not sure how many people are aware of the Blue Flag status and the fact the Blue Flag has been removed doesn't mean the beach is not useable. ''I don't think it will make a huge difference to tourism.'' Keep Scotland Beautiful said it would be working with Sepa and Fife Council to find out what caused the breaches in water quality. Councillor David Ross, the council's executive spokesman for housing, communities and local services, said: ''Despite the disappointing news that the slight fall in water quality has meant we haven't met the strict criteria for the Blue Flag award, we will continue to maintain the high standard of facilities visitors and residents expect for the rest of the season. ''We hope the fall in water quality will only be a temporary problem caused by the heavy rainfall over the summer and hope to receive a Blue Flag in the very near future.''

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.


East Neuk’s Ruby Bay beach is still the jewel in the crown

June 2 2015

Ruby Bay by Elie is the only beach in Scotland to win coveted Blue Flag status this year. Keep Scotland Beautiful announced the country’s best beaches, with 60 of the cleanest and best-managed earning Seaside Awards. Only Ruby Bay was deemed good enough to earn Blue Flag status, an internationally recognised standard of quality given to only the best beaches. Several other beaches in Fife earned Seaside Awards, including Anstruther and St Andrews’ East and West Sands. Broughty Ferry, Carnoustie, Monifieth, Arbroath and Montrose also won Seaside Awards. Fife depute provost Kay Morrison said: “To have so many coastal awards is a fantastic achievement for all concerned, and reflects the hard work and commitment of the council, Fife Coast and Countryside Trust and communities throughout Fife. “There are some really innovative pieces of work happening along Fife’s coast that all contribute to delivering an award winning coastline year after year.” Yesterday was the start of Scotland’s official bathing water season, and also marked the introduction of a new method of measuring water quality. Under the EU Bathing Water Directive, water quality will be judged over a rolling four-year period, rather than simply based on samples taken during a single day. Electronic messaging signs will warn bathers if entering the water is not advised, while the Sepa (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) website will carry details of the levels of bacteria such as E coli found in the water. Calum McPhail, unit manager in environmental quality with Sepa, who will be responsible for collecting water samples, said: “Of course we’re hoping for good weather this summer, not just so we can get out and enjoy our beaches but also because heavy rain is always the biggest threat to water quality. “Microbial source tracking techniques are available to us in-house to help identify pollution sources, so that they can be traced and tackled.” Scottish Government Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod said: “We will continue to work to ensure our bathing waters are of good quality for the Scottish public and our many visitors to enjoy.”