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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...


Ahoy, me hearties! New boat trips on the Tay

April 22 2017

This week, Gayle explores Dundee from a new perspective – on a newly launched River Tay boat trip. As the hulking ship-like structure of the V&A rises up to meet us, a huge smile forms on Ian Ashton’s lips. “Everything looks better from the water,” he beams, and I have to agree. I’m on one of a newly launched series of boat trips on the River Tay led by Ian, taking in Broughty Ferry and Dundee waterfronts and a section of the Fife coastline. It’s a chance to see and learn a great deal about the area’s maritime history and a rare opportunity to get up close to the V&A. If you’re lucky, you might even see some dolphins. Powerboat instructor Ian, 42, launched the trips this month after “test” runs with friends and family proved a roaring success. On board today are a couple from Arbroath and a lady from East Lothian, and a group of French people are booked in after us. As we leave the Ferry pier, a strong wind whips up and Ian warns we might get a tad wet. Not to worry as everyone is geared up to the max in waterproofs. Passing the Ferry’s imposing castle, the RNLI station and Royal Tay Yacht Club, it’s not long before we reach Dundee harbour with its oil rigs and ships. We pause here awhile, as Ian, an offshore worker, talks us through the history of the drilling platforms and points out features such as the helipad and derrick (which houses the drill used to tap new wells). "There were a couple of Dutch and Belgian battleships docked here on a NATO exercise yesterday – shame you missed them,” he says. As we progress along the waterfront, a nasty niff emanates from the shipyards, which Ian reveals is probably fish meal. Nice. We then pass City Quay and its tidal gates, the site of the Discovery ship’s construction, and couthy, cobbled Chandlers Lane. There’s also the site of a Second World War submarine refuelling site and, for me, the highlight – puttering along in front of the V&A. “The best side of the V&A is unquestionably on the water,” proclaims Ian. “You can see, on a daily basis, progress being made. Right now, the cladding is being installed. The gap between each piece is too short for seagulls to nest.” Some say it resembles a big ship and from this angle, it certainly is a remarkable piece of design, with Kengo Kuma’s bold architectural vision inspired by the natural forms of Scotland’s cliffs. Heading under the rail bridge, Ian points out a section of twisted metal – a poignant reminder of the disaster of 1879. As we speed under the road bridge, the sea sprays into our faces, which is exhilarating to say the least. Other fascinating sights include the Larick Beacon, just off Tayport, known locally as The Pile. Built in 1845, this wooden lantern structure is one of only a few surviving pile lighthouses in the UK, although it’s not been used since the 60s. Other trips head out towards Tentsmuir Forest, where passengers can spy curious seals and bottlenose dolphins. Back on dry land, dad-of-two Ian tells me he plans to run trips via his company Pirate Boats Ltd through spring and summer. “The Tay is a massively underutilised resource; there’s a lot to see and a lot of history out there,” he says. “I love taking people out on the water and everybody gets something from it. But the biggest surprise is that although I’d researched sights along the river, on almost every trip, people have been chipping in with their own memories and stories about the Tay.” For folk considering taking a trip – even those who think they know Dundee inside out – Ian promises they’ll see a big chunk of the city they didn’t realise they’d missed, and I can certainly vouch for that. info To find out more or to book a Tay Estuary boat trip, contact the Facebook page of Pirate Boats Ltd or www.pirateboatsltd.com All trips leave from the castle pier at Broughty Ferry. Ian’s boat, Skua, is a rigid inflatable boat which seats eight or 10 people including children. He's running trips every day between April 24 and 30. Ian is running a competition to win a dolphin-spotting trip on the Tay for four people. See the Facebook page for more details. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=607217526148066&id=507170302819456&substory_index=0  

Readers' letters

Rich-poor divide reaching obscene levels

April 12 2013

Sir, The inequality within our society is now reaching obscene levels. On the one hand we have benefit reforms. These will push a further 400,000 children into poverty. Already overstretched food banks will be further strained as more and more people cannot afford to feed themselves. At the start of this winter it was predicted around 27,000 people will die as a result of fuel poverty. That was before it was known this winter would be the longest on record. Today there are increasing numbers of suicides as desperation makes victims decide they cannot face any more. This will become worse. To take just one example from the other hand, we have a tax cut for those earning over £150,000 which will put an average of £43,000 in the pockets of around 250,000 people. The 13,000 people earning over £1 million will be better off to the tune of £100,000. Chancellor George Osborne tried to justify this cut by saying the 50% top rate of tax was not worth collecting. It raised something like £2.4 billion that sounds well worth collecting. The total amount of benefit fraud in the UK each year amounts to only 0.7% of the welfare budget. It is not the huge widespread problem we are led to believe. Tax dodging, however, costs the UK between £160 and £200 billion each year. That is a staggering problem. Would it therefore not make sense to clamp down on the amount of tax dodging and evasion as it would reap far greater returns? As things stand, the phrase “we’re all in this together” has a very hollow ring. Steve Flynn. Westfield Avenue, Cupar. An important world figure Sir, I am appalled that, almost uniquely among the British press, The Courier affords Margaret Thatcher’s death little more than a strap-line on the front page (April 9), with all further detail relegated to the minor pages. I accept she was a divisive character little loved in Scotland, however, your paper’s presentation reeks of cowardice and fear of offending readers that the news of her death be published thus. Irrespective of her politics she must be recognised, as indeed your editorial admits, as unquestionably one of the most significant world (not just UK) figures of the second half of the last century. Your paper could so easily have done its duty without opening any political debate by simply publishing a respectful photograph without significant text on the front page. I can be sure, without resorting to your archives, that no other premier of recent times, most of whom are of much less lasting import, has been treated in such a manner. Sandy Green. The Old Rectory, Cupar. Of historical interest Sir, I write as a Gaelic speaker. There are very few of us in Perthshire, Angus and Fife. However, Gaelic was spoken throughout this area during the formative period of the Scottish kingdom until the 14th century. From then on it became confined to Highland Perthshire and the Braes of Angus. Now it has slipped away almost entirely to the western islands. It is really unnecessary to add Gaelic to motorway signs and road direction signs. Duplication of names would probably add an element of confusion to the passing motorist. However, it would be of historical, cultural and touristic interest to show the Gaelic form on the entry sign of a town or village, for instance: Pitlochry, Baile Chloichrigh; Dunkeld, Dun Chailleann; Ballintuim, Baile an Tuim; Crieff, Craoibh. This is specially true of Highland Perthshire, but could apply to towns elsewhere like St Andrews, Cille Rimhinn, or Perth, Peairt. This is our patriotic duty. The original meaning of “Scot”, a thousand years ago, was a Gaelic speaker to be distinguished from a Welsh (British) or English speaker. Hamish Robertson. Creag na Sith, Princeland Road, Coupar Angus. Plastic bag tax is needed here Sir, I read with interest the articles in The Courier, April 9, regarding charging for plastic carrier bags, and I thought back to the time before the advent of these, when every housewife would automatically take a shopping bag with her, whatever she was going to be buying. I remember some stores supplied paper bags, but I don’t know how good these were. The practice of charging for plastic bags is quite common in some other countries. I know that it has been normal in Bavaria for a very long time, this was before any environmental issues came into being. I for one consider that the government would be doing the country a huge favour if legislation was brought in to do this here. June Reid. 12 Findhorn Street, Fintry, Dundee. How can it be carbon neutral? Sir, There is considerable statement and comment on the proposed biomass plant in Dundee, emphasising the potential output. Electricity is relatively easily connected to the national grid, but how is the heat output (enough for three Ninewells Hospitals) to be distributed? To where? And how is this to be charged? Personally, I cannot see the justification in cutting trees in Canada, transporting them, chipping the timber, compacting it into pellets, more transport, shipping to Dundee, then burning. How can all this be carbon neutral? Jim Reid. Birkhill.

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

Food & Drink

Celebrate National Fish and Chip Day on June 2 with tasty variations of a traditional favourite

May 30 2017

MEXICAN FISH & CHIPS ~ Fried Fish Tacos with Hand-Torn Blue Masa Chips ~ With salsa ketchup, chipotle sour cream, guacamole Serves 4  Ingredients  For the tortilla wraps and hand-torn blue masa chips 500g (blue) masa harina (masa flour can be purchased online from Mexican stockists) 600ml tepid water 1 teaspoon sea salt  For the guacamole 3 large ripe avocados Juice 2 limes ½ small red onion, finely diced Small handful coriander, chopped 2 green birdseye chillies, deseeded and finely chopped Black pepper and sea salt  For the salsa ketchup 6 vine tomatoes, quartered and deseeded 1/2 cup of your favourite ketchup 2 green birdseye chillies 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled ½ red onion, finely diced 2 tbsp coriander, roughly chopped Juice 1 lime 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika 1/4 teaspoon of cumin Teaspoon of honey Dash of olive oil  For the chipotle sour cream 1/2 cup sour cream 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped Pinch of sea salt Small handful chives, chopped  For the fish tacos 4 x tilapia fillets 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 tablespoon salt 1 cup good Mexican light beer (for beer batter - our favourite is Dos Equis) 3 cups of vegetable oil 1 x chopped radish   Directions  To make the tortilla wraps, mix the masa harina and the salt together in a mixing bowl. Pour in the water and stir to combine. Knead the dough for several minutes in the bowl. The dough is ready when it's smooth, but no longer sticky, and easily forms a ball in your hand. Cover the bowl with a towel and rest for 30 minutes. Form a ball roughly the size of a ping-pong ball, then using a tortilla press, shape the dough to make approx. 6inch tortillas (around 2mm thick). If you don't have a press, you can also use a rolling pin with grease proof paper. Separate the tortillas in two, keep half for the chips and the other half for the wraps. Using a flat cast iron griddle, over a medium heat, cook half of the tortillas for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Take the other half and tear roughly into chip sized sections.  Deep fry in sunflower oil for 3 minutes. To make the guacamole, halve and stone the avocados, then spoon the flesh into a bowl. Pour over the lime juice and add a pinch of sea salt, then crush with a potato masher until puréed but still a little chunky. Add the onion, coriander, chillies and black pepper. Stir through and set aside. For the salsa ketchup, place the tomatoes, cut-side up, in a baking tray along with the chillies and garlic, salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil. Roast in the oven at 180 degrees for 20-25mins. When done, peel the garlic and add to a food processor, then peel, deseed and stem the chillies. Add to the food processor along with the cumin, smoked paprika, honey, tomatoes, ketchup, onion, coriander, and lime juice. Season with black pepper, pulse until chunky. For the chipotle sour cream, stir together sour cream, finely chopped chipotle pepper, chives and sea salt. For the fish tacos, Cut the fish into 1 1/2-inch chunks. To make the batter, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in enough beer, about 1 to 1 1/2 cups, until the mixture is the consistency of pancake batter. Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium heat to 360 degrees F. When the oil is hot, working in batches, dip the fish pieces into the batter and carefully add them to the hot oil. Cook the fish until golden brown on both sides and the fish is cooked through, about 4 to 6 minutes total. Remove from the pan and drain on to a sheet tray lined with paper towels. Warm tacos in the microwave or oven for around 30 seconds. Divide the fish between your warm tacos. Top with chopped radishes and a drizzle of the chipotle sour cream and salsa ketchup. Serve with the masa chips, guacamole and the remaining salsa ketchup and chipotle sour cream. Enjoy! www.craftandharbour.com How do you eat yours? Brits reveal their favourite fish ‘n’ chip trimmings! As a nation, we spend £1.2bn* on fish and chips every year, making our way through 382 million portions. This week (June 2) marks the annual celebration of the humble fish and chips, and in honour  Wren Kitchens have surveyed Brits up and down the country to discover the ultimate combination. As a nation, the findings reveal the classic salt (37%) and vinegar (41%) is the perfect start to the dish; with a generous helping of mushy peas (28%), a dollop of tomato ketchup (25%) and a side of bread and butter (23%). Of course, there was no debate between chunky (19%) or thin (4%) chips! With 10,500 fish and chip shops up and down the country, the perfect accompaniments to our national dish vary from the weird to the wonderful. Although it’s a clear favourite by all, the study suggests Wales are the biggest fans of a vinegar soaked fish and chip with the South East accustomed to a salty supper. While legend would have you believe Northerners can’t sit down to eat without a tankard of gravy, Yorkshire is in fact the curry sauce capital of the UK, with a “cuppa” being the worthy winner for those in the North East and mushy peas for the North West. Southerners on the other hand are king of the condiments, with Londoners sticking to ketchup and those in the South West partial to a side of tartar. But it’s the Scots that have really made the fish and chip dinner their own, with a side that no-one but them seems to have knowledge of. Scotland is the chippy sauce capital of the UK with 1 in 5 Edinburgh respondents saying it is the perfect pairing (washed down with an Irn-Bru of course!). Accompaniment Capitals   Region Item % East Anglia Chunky Chips 21 East Midlands Mayonnaise 8 London Ketchup 33 North East Tea 20 North West Mushy Peas 44 Northern Ireland Bread and Butter 31 Scotland Brown sauce 10 South East Salt 45 South West Tartar sauce 18 Wales Vinegar 49 West Midlands Battered Sausage 15 Yorkshire & Humber Curry sauce 28 Capitals calculated by taking each accompaniment and finding the region most likely to enjoy this item (based on highest % from regional respondent samples) Favourite Accompaniments   Number Item % 1 Vinegar 41% 2 Salt 37% 3 Mushy peas 28% 4 Ketchup 25% 5 Bread and butter 23% 6 Chunky chips 19% 7 Curry sauce 17% 8 Tartar sauce 16% 9 Battered Sausage 12% 10 Tea 12% 11 Mayonnaise 10% 12 Lemon 9% 13 Garden peas 9% 14 Fizzy Pop 8% 15 Brown Sauce 7% 16 Beans 7% 17 Pickled onions 7% 18 Scraps (bits/scrumps) 7% 19 Gravy 7% 20 Chippy sauce 6%     Top 20 favourites calculated from overall sample size (2,000 UK respondents) when asked about their favourite side dishes to accompany fish and chips) www.wrenkitchens.com   Pan seared Cromars scallops with black pudding and apple puree from award-winning fish and chip shop Cromars in St Andrews. www.cromars.co.uk INGREDIENTS – to serve 3 - 12 scallops - peeled and sliced 3 Bramley apples, slice and cored 50ml lemon juice - 20g butter - Juice of 1 lemon - 9 slices black pudding - olive oil for frying Lemon to garnish To make the apple puree, sweat the apple with the lemon juice until soft, then puree. Open scallops and clean. Peel and slice the black pudding and sauté. Then sauté the scallops on one side and turn when coloured, add a knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice, baste and drain on a cloth. To serve: Place a small amount of apple puree on top of the black pudding, then top with a scallop, place 3 scallops on the plate. Serve with chips! Willie Little's halibut and straw chips SERVES 4-6 Sea salt for dusting 800g Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cut into very fine matchsticks about 0.5cm thick heat 6-8 cm of sunflower oil in a sturdy pan and bring to deep frying temperature- test with one piece of potato – when it is floating and goes dark brown the temperature will have reached 180 degrees C and you are ready to begin frying. Pat the potato strips with kitchen paper and cook in batches. Drain on paper and sprinkle with sea salt – serve with the fish. Or you can use a deep fat fryer. BATTER RECIPE FOR HALIBUT 100g self-raising flour 1 tsp lemon pepper 1/2 teaspoons garlic granules Good pinch dried dill Cracked black pepper Good pinch of salt 100ml of water 4 large Halibut fillets Coat fish fillets, which have been dried with kitchen paper, into the seasoned flour and deep fry until golden brown. Serve immediately with straw chips. www.littlesrestaurant.co.uk  

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.

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.


Riding an A-list wave to the Med Riviera

October 1 2016

Keen to combine land and sea on holiday? Francesca Gosling samples a new stay-and-cruise package which discovers the best of both worlds Did you know that throwing a coin into Rome's Trevi Fountain is only lucky if you chuck it over your left shoulder with your right hand? Or that you can actually sit and eat in the St Tropez boutiques of Dior and Roberto Cavalli? I learned these pub quiz gems during my first ever cruise, a stay-and-sail trip through the glamorous Italian and French Riviera. Developed by Kuoni in partnership with Azamara Club Cruises, the new five-day trip includes a one-night stay in Rome before embarking on a gentle sail to St Tropez and Portofino, stopping for the best part of a day at each port, so guests have a real chance to explore. Think luxury accommodation, top-end restaurants and evening entertainment all in one place - but with a whole new scene at your doorstep every day. As soon as I step into my gorgeous en-suite stateroom, I almost squeal with joy at the sunlight drenching my private balcony. But it's the ship's excellent restaurants that really send me into a head-spin. I'm not much of a carnivore, but the juicy sirloin cooked to perfection and slathered in rich mushroom sauce on board the ship's speciality steak restaurant Prime C is sublime. I don't have long to explore the ship though, as we soon arrive at our first stop, Rome. Having never visited before, I can't wait to start our evening tour. I fight the urge to get embarrassingly trigger happy with the camera as we drive past the Vatican, the Colosseum and the Piazza Venezia - impressive by day, but spectacular when lit-up at night like fairy-tale palaces. We stop for a three-course dinner in a backstreet restaurant, gorging on fresh pasta and creamy pannacotta. Our tour guide, Sofia, then whisks us through the city she describes as an "architectural lasagne", starting at the magnificent Trevi Fountain and finishing in the bustling bohemian streets of Trastevere. When we reach the church of Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio a Trevi, I'm glad I've already digested my dinner. Among the astonishing artefacts on display is a stomach-churning selection of 25 preserved Popes' hearts. Back on board the ship, we spend a night partying to DJ Marcio's tunes and trying our luck (responsibly, of course) at the casino. Our next stop is St Tropez, made famous by Brigitte Bardot in the 1956 film And God Created Woman. Today, it's still a swanky holiday haven for the world's rich and famous. As we only have an afternoon to explore, I opt for a boat tour. I'm so busy gawping at perfectly tanned families soaking up sun (and champagne bubbles) on super yachts that I almost miss a glimpse of Ms Bardot's house. I have the chance to indulge my own A-lister fantasies at a super chic White Night party on the pool deck as we set sail again. We enjoy flowing wine and made-to-order Crepes Suzette, and go to bed as the lights of the French Riviera fade into the distance. When I wake up, I'm greeted with the luscious green hills of Liguria's Portofino. With its palatial red and orange mansions dotted here and there, I can confirm the region is every bit as beautiful as Hemingway promised. We drive from the colourful beach of Santa Margherita to the town of Rapallo, as our guide points out the olive groves, which produce oil so precious, it is never exported beyond the region. After preparing a lunch of handmade ravioli swimming in a rich, herby sauce, chefs at a traditional hilltop restaurant show us how to make bread stuffed with creamy stracchino cheese. I even try my hand at making pesto from scratch. Our voyage comes to an end all too soon the following morning, but we still have time for a final stop at the Roman city of Ostia Antica. I hire a headset for eight euros, and wander through the extraordinarily preserved walls and columns of ancient buildings, imagining what life would have been like wearing a toga. Spending days at sea has never really appealed to me before, but with so much time spent on land, this trip has eased me gently into the world of cruising. Floating between destinations is actually a very pleasant way to see the world - along with my new-found factoids about Brigitte Bardot, that's another gem I've gleamed from this holiday. TRAVEL FACTS Francesca Gosling was a guest of Kuoni (www.kuoni.co.uk; 01306 747 008) who offers the three-night Azamara Club Cruises 2017 taster journey from £895 per person, departing June 9, 2017 from Nice, with flights from London Heathrow and transfers in resort. Longer Stay & Cruise itineraries with Azamara Club Cruises are also available.


Sponsored: Courier Country chippies set to celebrate the best of the sea

September 22 2017

A group of three fish and chip shops are getting ready to show seafood at its finest next month. The Our Shoal Group – made up of the North Street Chip Shop, The Cairnie Chip Shop and The Round O Chip Shop – will be offering something a wee bit different this Seafood Week (October 6th to 13th). On the menu will be cod, smoked haddock, butterflied garlic prawn kievs and salt and pepper squid. All served with freshly made chips, homemade tartare sauce and a wedge of lemon. Owner Lindsay Atkinson said: “We have noticed a change in customer tastes over the last few years, customers are willing to try something different. “In the past we have offered monkfish, halibut and smoked haddock on our menu and the have proved popular with smoked haddock now being a regular item on the menu at the weekend. “We hope during Seafood Week we can get more customers to try something new.” Seafood Week is a national scheme designed to not just show off the fantastic food that can be found under the sea, but also to educate people about sustainable fishing and the thousands of ways it can be turned into tasty dishes the whole family can enjoy. Heather Middleton, Marketing Manager at Seafish, said: “We want to bring the whole of the UK together to celebrate and showcase all the best that seafood has to offer. “We’ve been eating it for generations. It is part of our tradition and our national identity, and it truly deserves a regular place on all our dining tables. “To help build support of Seafood Week, we are urging people to start tweeting with the hashtag #seafoodweek.” Visit seafoodweek.co.uk to find out more. And the fantastic food doesn’t stop there. On October 14th, The Round O Chip Shop and The Cairnie Chip Shop will be hosting a fish supper in aid of the RNLI. The chippies are RNLI fish supper ambassadors and 10% of the sales of every haddock or cod supper sold on the day will go to supporting the local lifeboat station in Arbroath. Lindsay and Stuart explained: “We admire the sacrifices made by the lifeboat crew - often risking their lives to save others. The RNLI could not do this without donations, which is why we got involved. “The Arbroath RNLI lifeboat station is our local lifeboat station and many of the volunteers are regular customers.” Both  the North Street Chip Shop and The Round O Chip Shop are MSC certified, ensuring the future of fish in the oceans tomorrow and in the future. Lindsay said: “We are the only two fish and chip shops in Angus to be MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified. This means our haddock, cod and fishcakes are sustainably and responsibly sourced. “We can trace our fish all the way from the ocean to your plate.”


PICTURES: Moment five-star cruise ship docks in the Port of Dundee

June 28 2017

A five-star cruise ship has anchored in the Port of Dundee. The luxurious Sea Cloud II is designed to looked like a historic tall ship, and stopped at the Forth Ports Docks in Dundee at 7am this morning ahead of its tour of Norway and the UK. These photographs from Rising View show the vessel making its way up the River Tay today. After Dundee it will travel to Leith on June 30, then Edinburgh before heading to Orkney, Shetland and on to Norway. It is due to leave Dundee at about 5pm tonight. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/458502/video-footage-shows-luxurious-cruise-ship-taking-river-tay/ The yacht is owned and operated by Hamburg-based Sea Cloud Cruises, and carries out journeys across the globe. She is due in the Mediterranean, the Transatlantic and the Caribbean later this year. The 347ft cruise ship was built in Keil, Germany and is made up of four decks, a gym, restaurant, a library and lounge. Sea Cloud Cruises has three yachts: the Sea Cloud, the Sea Cloud II and the River Cloud II. The Sea Cloud II is the sister ship of the windjammer, The Sea Cloud, which served as a weather ship for the United States Coast Guard and United States Navy during World War II.