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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…

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

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.

UK & World

Social workers involved in St Helena child abuse inquiry take legal action

March 23 2018

Two social workers who say an inquiry report into allegations of child abuse on the British overseas territory of St Helena destroyed their professional reputations have taken legal action.Claire Gannon and Martin Warsama, who worked on St Helena and made cover-up allegations, have sued the Foreign Office and the senior barrister who led the inquiry.They say they “stand by the accuracy and honesty of their disclosures” and say conclusions were reached on the basis of an inquiry which was procedurally unfair.Lawyers representing ministers and inquiry chairman Sasha Wass QC dispute their claim and say the litigation should not proceed.A judge was on Friday considering issues in the case at a High Court hearing in London.Barrister Neil Sheldon, who is leading a legal team representing Foreign Office ministers, asked the judge, Master Victoria McCloud, to halt the litigation and dismiss the claim launched by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama.The inquiry had been set up by ministers following corruption and cover-up allegations which had been raised in newspaper articles and leaked documents and made by Ms Gannon and Martin Warsama.An inquiry report published in December 2015 concluded that: St Helena did not “attract sex tourism”; said allegations that the island in the South Atlantic was a “paedophiles’ paradise” were not true; reported “no corruption at all”; and found no evidence of any attempt by the Foreign Office, the Department for International Development, the St Helena government or police to cover up child abuse.The report said: “We stress that there was no ‘cover-up’ as alleged by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, rather an ignorance of proper safeguarding procedure.”Nicholas Bowen QC, who represents Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, told the judge the conclusions of the Wass Inquiry “destroyed” the professional reputations of his clients.He said the inquiry process was “procedurally” unfair and said Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama were entitled to “just satisfaction” for their loss.Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama say their claim should not be dismissed but say evidence should be analysed at a trial.

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.

Motoring news

Rising repair costs and whiplash claims behind insurance rise

February 11 2017

Vehicle insurance premiums hit a record high last quarter, rising by more than five times the rate of inflation in 2016. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that tax increases, rising repair costs and increasing costs arising from whiplash injury claims were to blame. According to the ABI’s Motor Premium Tracker – which measures the price consumers actually pay for their cover, rather than quotes – the average price for private comprehensive insurance in Q4 2016 was £462. The highest figure recorded before this was in Q2 of 2012, when the average price was £443. The Q4 figure for 2016 was up 4.9% over Q3, equating to a £22 rise in the average premium. It was also found that the average premium for all of 2016 was 9.3% higher than the average premium for 2015. ABI’s assistant director and head of motor and liability, Rob Cummings, said: “These continue to be tough times for honest motorists. They are bearing the brunt of a cocktail of rising costs associated with increasing whiplash-style claims, rising repair bills and a higher rate of insurance premium tax. “While we support the Government’s further reforms to tackle lower-value whiplash costs, it must not give with one hand and take away with the other. The sudden decision to review the discount rate has the potential to turn a drama into a crisis, with a significant cut throwing fuel on the fire in terms of premiums. “Insurers are open to a proper dialogue on how to reform the system and urge the Lord Chancellor to engage with the industry about setting a rate that is fair for both claimants and customers.” Meanwhile, the RAC has released research that suggests not indicating when turning is our number one annoyance on the roads. Well over half (58%) of the survey’s respondents said failing to indicate was the top inconsiderate behaviour. It was narrowly ahead (56%) of those who thought middle lane hogging was the greatest driving sin.

Golf

Women’s British Open a sideshow to the Trump circus

July 30 2015

Helicopters circled noisily, Donald Trump mingled in a red cap that looked like it had been bought on the beach at Ayr and a man played “Flower of Scotland” on the tuba on the hotel steps. Somewhere, the Ricoh Women’s British Open finally broke out amid the circus yesterday. The host turned up at Turnberry with the expected fanfare, causing the championship to stop in its tracks. Lydia Ko, the World No 2, was standing on the 16th tee at six-under but paused to watch as Trump’s helicopter did two circuits above the course before landing in prominent position in front of the hotel. The 18-year-old young star finished with a 66, tucked in behind first round leader Hyo Joo Kim of Korea who equalled the women’s course record of 65. The experienced American Cristie Kerr also shot 66 on an ideal day for scoring but the day was really all about off course activities, which must have had the LGU and the LPGA squirming. After a press conference that was mostly a presidential campaign rally, Trump later ventured out on to the course with his “Make American Great Again” cap, a posse of photographers and TV cameramen in pursuit to “support the championship”. He later lifted off to his Aberdeen course and thereafter back to his Presidential campaign, and even if his support to women’s golf and the British Open is fully acknowledged, his departure is definitely for the best as this major championship felt like a complete sideshow rather than the main event it’s supposed to be. It’s not just Donald Trump that the championship has to please. Japanese TV requirements mean that the first groups were packed with leading players a situation that would never be tolerated in the men’s game. Thus Lydia Ko’s phone alarm went at 3.30 am, and she pressed “snooze” several times before realising she needed to “get going and get out of here”. However the young New Zealander has such a sweet disposition she barely complained, and indeed once on the course at her 6.40 am tee time blitzed the opening nine in 32, rattling in a massive 20 yard putt on the tenth for good measure. In the end, with the wind at her back on the final few holes, a 66 with four straight pars to finish was maybe a little bit of an anti-climax. Astonishing as it is for someone just 18, Lydia has to be considered the best player in the women’s game yet to win a major, but she doesn’t go with that hype. “My goal is to hopefully have one major win in my career,” she said. “Sometimes you read stuff and you don’t know what to think. I don’t look at records, I guess you guys will let me know if I get close to any.” What was she thinking when the Trump helicopter flew overhead? “I was like, man, that’s a really nice helicopter,” she laughed. “I would love one.” Kim, the 20-year-old Korean who was a surprise winner of the new fifth major on the women’s tour, the Evian Championship last year, struck out by herself with a bogey-free round in ideal weather conditions, sunny with just a slight cooling breeze. Kim speaks no English, but seemed genuinely stunned she was out in front, this being her first competitive experience in the British Open. “I just found out now,” she said through an interpreter after returning her card and finding out she was leading. “I’m kind of surprised, I’ve never played here before. “Thankfully it’s not windy, and no rain today,” she added. Kerr from past experience far outweighing both the players with her on the leaderboard knows that yesterday was a benign day to take advantage of. “They say that weather is going to move in again, so you need to keep your head on straight and your wits about you,” said the 38-year-old, after a whirlwind round of an eagle, seven birdies and a trio of bogeys, just missing a chance of the 18th to join Kim in front. “It was spectacular today but you need to take it day by day. “There’s no way I’ll get ahead of myself. I was proud of my mental game today, not focusing on my mistakes and I need to keep that going.” Kerr, “a pretty good friend” of Trump, didn’t feel he had been a distraction. “I know there was a lot of media speculation around comments that were made but everyone makes mistakes, right?” she said. “The Tour loves Donald, he’s done a lot of women’s golf and I know the players certainly love him.” Florentyna Parker, in the early morning wave, was the best Briton with a four-under 68 while Catriona Matthew just dipped under par with a 71 but admitted that was the day to go low. “There’s obviously some good scores out there, even if there’s still a breeze and it’s still difficult,” said the 2009 champion. “From the forecast, though, this may be the easiest day we get. “I was a little annoyed by bogeying the (par five) 17th, but pretty pleased with how I played. I hit into two bunkers off the tee and that’s two strokes gone straight away on this course.” Carly Booth battled for a par round of 72 to be the best of the other Scots.

Fife

Repair bill of £95 million for crumbling Fife roads

January 25 2016

A crumbling rural rat run in Fife has been tagged as Courier Country’s worst road. Inspectors found 95 potholes in need of repair on the Q7 which runs for 4.3 miles between Cupar and Kilmany. Those who live along the single-track road, commonly used as a short cut between Cupar and Dundee, are so fed-up with its condition that many avoid using it and take the long way round. Villagers in Kilmany and nearby Foodieash said cars had been damaged hitting holes in the road, which is also prone to flooding and mud, and fear that there will be a serious accident. Kilmany resident Paul Humphries’z said: “I’m concerned that someone is going to come a cropper.” Grant Jack, 50, Foodieash, said: “The potholes are really, really bad and when the road is muddy you can’t see them. I use it to go to Dundee two or three times a week, so it’s quite important to me that the road is kept at a reasonable standard. “They need to get the road fixed, that’s the simple truth.” The road’s state was lamented at a meeting of Fife Council’s north-east Fife area committee, when the council’s £95.6m maintenance backlog was flagged up. https://youtube.com/watch?v=hM27_r8-2vo%3Frel%3D0 It was also revealed that the budget for area transportation works, which include roads, pavements, street lighting, road safety and traffic management, is expected to fall from £16m this year to £9.5m in 2017/18. Committee member, Tay Bridgehead councillor Tim Brett said: “The roads are in a pretty awful condition.” “I know from my own travels that there are potholes everywhere and clearly the transportation service is not keeping up. “We are in a very difficult situation. “The previous administration and this administration have put more funding into roads maintenance and any further cuts to roads maintenance should be avoided if possible.” The council has a 24-hour or five-day target for dealing with surface defects, depending on their severity, and service manager David Brown confirmed that the necessary repairs to the Q7 were made within the timescale. He also said inspectors and squads were out daily looking for potholes and filling in those recorded. Persistent and heavy rain over the winter, he said, had caused further deterioration to road surfaces. He said: “There is a league table and Fife is sitting about the middle.” It has been revealed it would cost £95.6 million to get the region’s carriageways up to scratch. Councillor Pat Callaghan, the council’s spokesperson for environment and transportation, said: “It would be great to have all our roads in first class condition but it’s estimated that this would cost around £95m. “This obviously isn’t something we can currently consider when we have to save £91.5m by 2018/19. “Any defects that are considered to pose an immediate risk are repaired within 24 hours with the rest repaired within five working days.” The council pledged an additional £50m over nine years for maintenance from this April but a report by transport and environment head of assets Ken Gourlay said it was unlikely this would be sufficient to prevent further deterioration in the long term.

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