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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…


£320,000 of improvements on the way for Fife coastal paths

March 15 2014

A major new investment is to transform sections of the Fife coastline. Nearly £320,000 is to be devoted to new projects promising the revitalisation of Kirkcaldy’s Pathhead Sands and circular walking routes in the north of Fife, plus enhanced safety measures and renewed lifesaving equipment on many Fife beaches. The fresh investment was announced by the Coastal Communities Fund, a UK-wide fund delivered by the Big Lottery Fund that aims to boost the economies of Britain’s coastal communities. Fife Coast and Countryside Trust (FCCT), which manages and maintains the Fife Coastal Path and Fife’s beaches, has secured funding of £275,000, with the remainder of the funding coming from the FCCT and Fife Council. The news was warmly welcomed by Fife councillors at Kirkcaldy’s Pathhead Sands, which is to be upgraded to the standard of other recreational beaches in the area. The Pathhead project will see the creation of a new car park, the removal of collapsed hardstanding, plus a new Coastal Path section linking the Sands with Ravenscraig Park. Restoration work will be carried out on the site’s beach, dunes and natural habitats, with invasive plants cleared and new interpretation boards giving visitors details of the area’s historical and natural features. Fife Council leader David Ross said: “I’m delighted that Fife Coast and Countryside Trust has been successful in attracting this new investment for the coast. “I’m particularly pleased that this funding will see the upgrading of Pathhead Sands and connections made to Ravenscraig Park. “This will improve Pathhead Sands, make this part of the coastal path more attractive to visitors and help to make much more of what should be a valuable asset to Kirkcaldy and to Fife.” Kirkcaldy East Councillor Arthur Morrison said: “The investment in Pathhead Sands will mean Kirkcaldy will at last have a beach for families, picnics and outdoor enjoyment. “The improvements have been sorely needed and will hopefully lead to the improvement of more coastal areas for future generations.” The two-year Pathhead project will also see the creation of a new community partnership including representatives from local community groups and businesses. Elsewhere, the Coastal Communities Fund money will create two new circular walks on Fife’s Tay coast, taking walkers through native woodlands and fields at Birkhill and Newburgh. Repairs to a collapsing seawall at Ardross, near Elie, will also help to safeguard the path and nearby property from coastal erosion. Meanwhile, new lifesaving equipment will be brought in at the 14 European-designated bathing beaches which stretch from St Andrews to Aberdour, and new electronic signage will give visitors to St Andrews’ East Sands the most up-to-date information on the quality of the bathing water at the popular beach. Fife Coast and Countryside Trust chief executive Amanda McFarlane said: “Fife already has so much to be proud of. This significant new funding will allow us to make the Fife coast even safer and more accessible, as well as helping to support the many businesses who make the Fife Coastal Path such a rich and rewarding experience for Fifers and visitors.”

Take A Hike

A foray through north Fife

March 4 2017

Long distance trails are a great way to explore the landscape. Equally, they offer useful links between communities, links that can either be walked on their own or incorporated into other outings. Setting out from the southern end of the Tay Road Bridge on a loop through the north Fife countryside, and sustained by a lorne roll and coffee served up at the car park kiosk, I joined the Fife Coastal Path. Heading east from Newport, the well-signed trail runs parallel with the B946 to a picnic area beyond which it forks left, a leisurely descent following the line of an old railway to Tayport. Across the River Tay, established landmarks such as the Sidlaw Hills and Broughty Castle vied for my attention alongside more recent additions to the waterside scene – a trio of offshore oil platforms berthed in the port. Entering the burgh, I passed Tayport’s West Lighthouse, resplendent in white, and the shorter East Lighthouse. Designed by Robert Stevenson and built in 1823, they were a vital navigational aid for vessels entering the estuary. Another aid to mariners, although not on the Tay, was the lifeboat Duke of Kent, now propped up on one of the old stone piers at Tayport harbour. Stationed in Eastbourne, it finished its career as a survey boat after being decommissioned by the RNLI in 1993. The coastal path led me around the harbour, now a marina, and along residential Harbour Road to Tayport Common. Here I left the official trail and, by a band of pine, picked up a path over the parkland, passing a wildlife pond on the left en route to Tayport Football Club’s Canniepairt ground where the way swings right to join Shanwell Road. A little to the south, a track led me through Scotscraig Golf Course. The route crosses a couple of fairways, where signs warn of the direction to expect play from, before exiting the course at a gate. It continues south past Garpit and through a plantation of pines, entering Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve where my next stop was Morton Lochs, a trio of pools created at the start of the last century. Today they are a haven for wildlife and, in addition to hides overlooking the water, one focussing on the forest offers opportunities to spot red squirrels. Cutting between the north and south lochs, the reserve access track leads inland to the B945 from where I wandered west, a quiet country road running through arable farmland towards Forgan Manse, passing the ruins of 19th Century Forgan Church. Just ahead of the manse, I turned north, a right of way signed for Inverdovat rising through a paddock and up the edge of a field on to Roseberry Hill. Passing a carved boundary stone, the path skirts the eastern edge of Roseberry Wood, descending through a field below to cross a wee wooden bridge spanning a ditch in the base of the valley. Climbing by a wall to the road above, signs for East Newport led me by the pan-tiled stone sheds of Causewayhead Farm and down a tree-lined track to the A92. Carefully crossing the busy dual carriageway, I headed down Newport’s Station Brae, the second road on the right – Norwood – guiding me past houses and wooded Gowrie Hill to a cycle path offering passage back to the Tay Road Bridge. ROUTE 1. Descend path to B946, cross and follow Fife Coastal Path east to Tayport harbour. 2. Continue on coastal path (following Harbour Road) to Tayport Common. 3. Cross Promenade and bear right to pick up gravel path running south to Shanwell Road then turn left and walk 250m on pavement. 4. Bear right through gate, following track across golf course. Exit course at gate and follow path south to Morton Lochs. 5. Turn right and follow track west to B945. 6. Turn right on B945, then go left, following minor road west. 7. Turn right (signed Inverdovat) and follow waymarked path north. 8. Go left along road, then turn right, following lane up to Causewayhead. Bear left round stone sheds and continue on track, turning left at next junction. 9. Cross A92, descend 50m on Station Brae then go right along Norwood. Where Norwood meets Craighead Cresent, continue ahead on cycle path to Tay Road Bridge.   INFORMATION Distance: 13km/8 miles Ascent: 200m/660ft Time: 4 hours Grading: A moderate route setting out along the Fife Coastal Path and thereafter following good paths, tracks and minor roads with some useful waymarking. Keep dogs on lead where signs request and take great care crossing A92 towards end of walk Start/finish: Car park at south end of Tay Road Bridge (Grid ref: NO 426287) Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 59; Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer sheet 371 Tourist Information: Dundee Information Centre, 16 City Square, Dundee DD1 3BG (Tel 01382 527527) Public transport: Stagecoach bus service 96 from Dundee stops at the south end of the bridge


Fife coastal path twinning could bring Swede tourism rewards

May 16 2016

The operators of the Fife Coastal Path are now building bridges internationally after twinning the popular attraction with a trail in Sweden. The Fife Coast and Countryside Trust (FCCT) hope that raising the profile of the hugely popular walkway will attract even more foreign visitors to the kingdom’s coastline. It is hoped that the link-up with the Skaneleden Trail will work in a similar way to twin town arrangements already in place throughout Fife. Valerie Telfer, business support manager at the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, said: “We are delighted to have developed such a good relationship with the team in Sweden and look forward to welcoming Swedish visitors to Fife. “From the vast array of nature surrounding the paths, the beautiful beaches and stunning landscapes, to the welcoming facilities along both paths, there is a great opportunity for path users in Sweden to perhaps explore another fabulous coastal experience in Fife and vice versa.” Though dwarfed in size by its Swedish counterpart, there are many similarities between the Fife Coastal Path and its “twin”, with both known to draw huge numbers of visitors. Stretching for 117 miles from the Forth Estuary in the south, to the Tay Estuary in the north, the Fife Coastal Path offers walkers the opportunity to explore the most visited outdoor region in the country. Meanwhile, the Skaneleden Trail, at more than 600 miles long promises trekkers some of the most picturesque views in Sweden. Located in Skane, in the south of the country, the huge path is home to camp sites and divided in to 89 separate sections. However, with 14 award-winning beaches to be seen in Fife, the FCCT has emphasised that there is plenty to attract visitors to Scottish shores as well. Mrs Telfer added: “The Fife Coastal Path is one of the most frequently visited sites we look after, and after seeing and hearing more about the Skaneleden Trail it is clear that, while there are many differences between the two, there are even more similarities.”

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

Take A Hike

Trek Tentsmuir for a change

April 14 2018

Tentsmuir Forest, Leuchars, Fife. The landscape of Tentsmuir is a constantly changing one. While many seafront communities live under the ever-present shadow of coastal erosion, Tentsmuir is one of the fastest growing parts of Scotland. Swelled by tidal currents and the outflow of the River Tay, the shifting shoreline of sandy beach and rolling dunes backed by forestry is expanding at the rate of around five metres a year. And, arriving in the Forestry Commission car park that serves popular Kinshaldy Beach, I noticed change here too. Once sheltered by evergreens, at the end of 2015 a swathe of tall, unstable Corsican pines was removed from the area, creating a more open outlook. While the scars of this felling remain, grassy banks and new planting are bedding in. Lying between the mouths of the Tay and Eden rivers and planted in the 1920s, Tentsmuir Forest covers 1500 hectares and consists mainly of Scots and Corsican pine. Home to red squirrels, roe deer, herons, woodpeckers and colonies of bats, a network of tracks and paths and a selection of waymarked trails guide walkers, cyclists and horse riders through the plantation. This is also a prime place to spot our largest bird of prey, the white-tailed eagle (also known as the sea eagle). Re-introduced to Scotland a decade ago, they have become a regular sight around Tentsmuir where they come to hunt along the coastline and in the river estuaries. At the northern end of the car park, I joined the Fife Coastal Path. The long-distance way cuts through the forest and I followed it north, as far as an old ice house. An early form of deep freeze, the squat stone structure dates from the mid-19th century and was used to store salmon, ice sourced from nearby ponds in winter. Today, bats roost in the dark chamber. Branching off the forest road here, I wandered seaward, entering Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve, where the way weaves through scrubby woodland grazed by Highland cattle during the summer months. Munching shrubs, bushes and undergrowth, the hairy beasts are part of a concerted effort to keep the coastal heathland tree-free, conserving the natural landscape for a broader array of wildlife and plants. En route to an observation post gazing out across the ocean, I paused briefly at a wee railway wagon mounted on a plinth, a reminder of less peaceful times. Employed in the construction of the Tentsmuir Coastal Defences – a string of tank traps, pillboxes and observation posts built in 1941 to prevent enemy landings – the truck was abandoned once the job was complete but resurfaced decades later in the dunes during a storm. The green corrugated iron lookout cabin saw me turn south, a clear path crossing the heathland that lies between the forest and dunes, where sheltered blue lagoons attract ducks and seabirds. The trail leaves the nature reserve at an information board and, ignoring a path leading back into the trees, I made the short detour up to a derelict Second World War observation post before passing the fenced compound of a former salmon fishing bothy complete with a corrugated iron shed that oozes both character and rust. Where the trees part, the car park lies but, before heading home, I could not resist taking a wander out through the grassy dunes to Kinshaldy Beach and Tentsmuir’s shifting sands. ROUTE 1. Pass round metal barrier gate on northern edge of car park and follow gravel forest road (Fife Coastal Path) north to signed Junction 1. 2. Continue straight ahead (signed Ice House), following track 2km north to ice house. 3. Approaching ice house, turn right on track. Heading east towards the sea, pass through wooden kissing gate and follow path through woodland and across heathland to elevated green corrugated iron shed. 4. Bear right at corrugated iron shed and follow path south through dunes. 5. Exit Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve at gate by information board and continue south on path. 6. Continue straight ahead at junction (signed Car Park 1 mile), passing derelict wartime observation post and, further on, fenced off former salmon fishing bothy. 7. Turn right and, following any of several beach access paths, head inland to car park.   INFORMATION Distance: 5.6km/3½ miles Ascent: 50m/165ft Time: 2 hours Grading: Easy, low-level hike following good tracks and paths through forest and along coastline. Stout footwear recommended Start/finish: Tentsmuir Forestry Commission Car Park, three miles north-east of Leuchars (Grid ref: NO 498242). £2 parking charge payable at automatic barrier gate on approach road. Car park open daily 8am to 8.30pm Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 54 or 59; Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer sheet 371 Tourist Information: St Andrews iCentre, 70 Market Street, St Andrews KY16 9NU (Tel 01334 472021) Public transport: None


Fife Coastal Path could be shifted to escape erosion

March 17 2011

Parts of the Fife Coastal Path could be moved inland to save it from the ravages of the sea. Coastal erosion aggravated by recent storms has seen sections of the well-used path washed away and action has been demanded in a bid to preserve it. The coastal path, which runs 78 miles from the River Tay to the Forth Road Bridge, is a major draw for visitors and generates an estimated £24 million for the local economy. But sections, particularly at Elie and Dysart, have been damaged and there are fears these could endanger walkers or be washed away for good. Questioned about the issue at a Fife housing and communities committee meeting this week, Amanda Macfarlane, chief executive of the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, admitted funding was an issue but said steps were being taken to reduce the problem. She said, “We obviously have issues about coastal erosion but with council departments we are coming up with innovative ways to solve this difficult problem. “We believe the best option is to look at moving it inland as erosion happens. We also have to look at a new shoreline management plan to identify hotspots.” Ms Macfarlane said one example was dune erosion on Elie Estate, where the landowners had asked the trust for help. “They have agreed to move the path 30 metres inland in return for us helping them to put in a new fence,” she said. At Dysart, land reclaimed from the sea using by-products of former coal mines has been eroded by waves.

Take A Hike

Odyssey of boats, beaches and welly boots

January 20 2018

Pittenweem to Elie, Fife I have yet to walk the 117-mile long Fife Coastal Path in its entirety. Over the years I have, however, covered much of the ground, enjoying shorter hikes between the towns and villages that lie along the trail. The East Neuk is a favourite haunt, Kincraig Point and the rocky scramble that is the Elie Chainwalk just one of the highlights I find myself drawn to time and time again. The shoreline to the north of the seaside town I have devoted less attention to so, on a bright but bitterly cold winter morning, I set off for Pittenweem, determined to make amends. A car park at West Braes, on the edge of the fishing community, offers convenient access to the waymarked way which cuts between a restored crazy golf course and the town’s open air, tidal swimming pool. With the early morning air temperature struggling to stay much above zero, the icy waters of the pool did nothing to tempt me and I hot-footed it along the trail, pausing briefly to chat with local dog walkers. On a clear day the whole length of the seaboard strip between Pittenweem and Elie can be seen up ahead, distant Lady’s Tower my end goal for the day. Closer at hand, another prominent landmark is St Monans Windmill, constructed in the 1770s to pump sea water up into salt pans, the remains of which lie on grassland below the tower. Interpretative boards offer an insight into an industry that, while less than glamorous, was, during the 17th and 18th century, one of the main sources of employment along the kingdom’s south coast. St Monans too has a tidal bathing pool which I duly skipped past on my way into the village. Like Pittenweem, the village grew up around fishing, but it also boasted a thriving boatbuilding industry, one that ended in the 1990s. Across the basin, the western pier has acquired a new, quirky occupant – the Welly Boot Garden. Dozens of pairs of old wellies, some painted and all planted with flowers, grasses and foliage, inject colour into the old concrete slipway. Leaving St Monans, an alternative high tide route heads inland but, with the waves someway off, I crossed Inverie Burn via an old stone bridge and, following steps hewn into the rock, skirted below picturesque 14th century St Monans Kirk and its graveyard. The trail passes the dramatic ruins of Newark Castle and then the rather less prominent remains of Ardross Castle before dipping into dunes, a fine strip of golden sand leading on towards Lady’s Tower. The 18th century summerhouse of Lady Janet Anstruther, wife of politician Sir John Anstruther, formerly of Elie House, lies just off the official route of the coastal path but the deviation around the low-lying headland, which also takes in Elie Ness Lighthouse, is worth making. Below the derelict circular tower, the vaulted chamber where Lady Janet disrobed before bathing in the sea remains intact. It is said she indulged a passion for skinny-dipping. Paths converge once again at the Ruby Bay car park from where it is a short walk into Elie, slender streets lined with grand houses and quaint cottages leading me to Earlsferry Beach where I enjoyed a quiet stroll over the sand before wandering into town to catch the bus back to Pittenweem. ROUTE 1. From public toilets, follow path seaward to meet Fife Coastal Path (FCP). Bear right and follow FCP west to St Monans. 2. Enter St Monans on Rose Street and bear left down Forth Street to harbour. Continue past harbour and up West End before branching left down path to church. 3. Cross stream, bear left on carved steps and continue along FCP. 4. Bear right past Newark Castle ruin and continue ahead. 5. Ascend to Ardross Castle ruin before dipping through dunes. 6. Branch left off FCP at junction and follow path to Lady’s Tower. Continue round headland, passing Elie Ness Lighthouse, to Ruby Bay car park. 7. Turn left along car park access road then go left down Admiralty Lane to The Toft. 8. Turn right along The Toft then go left along The Terrace and South Street. 9. Bear right up Fountain Road then go right along Bank Street to centre of Elie.   INFORMATION Distance: 7.6km/4¾ miles Ascent: 70m/230ft Time: 2-3 hours Grading: An easy, low-level linear route following the Fife Coastal Path, returning by bus. Stout footwear recommended Start: Fife Coastal Path car park (signed from A917) at West Braes, Pittenweem (Grid ref: NO 543022). Finish in centre of Elie Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 59; Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer sheet 371 Tourist Information: St Andrews iCentre, 70 Market Street, St Andrews KY19 9NU (Tel 01334 472021) Public transport: Stagecoach bus services 95 and X60 link Elie and Pittenweem


Investigation into “stinking” contamination at Fife waterfall

October 12 2017

Contamination at a waterfall on the Fife Coastal Path near Burntisland is being investigated. Walkers have described the pollution at Starley Burn as “absolutely stinking” and smelling “like ammonia”. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) said the contamination had been caused by “unauthorised discharge of organic matter.” Samples have been taken away for analysis and SEPA said it would not speculate on the exact nature of the contamination while the investigation was ongoing. Locals suspect it may have been caused by run-off from nearby fields. Fife Council has put up warning signs in the vicinity, urging dog walkers to keep their pets away from the water and not let them drink from the burn. The signs carry a warning that the water “may be dangerous to health”. Walkers who regularly use that stretch of the coastal path took to Facebook to inform others about the hazard. One said: “Passed it today, water’s brown and stinks of ammonia.” Judith Moore, SEPA’s unit manager in Fife, said: “SEPA takes reports of pollution very seriously and we always urge people to inform SEPA if they are concerned so we can take action to protect the environment.” Ms Moore said a member of the public had alerted the agency to the incident. “Last week we received a call through our pollution hotline about a potential pollution in the Starley Burn in Fife,” she said. “Our officers confirmed that there was an unauthorised discharge of organic matter to the water and, as it is a popular area for dog walkers and there is a drinking fountain in the area, we alerted Fife Council so they could make the appropriate decisions and arrangements around public health signage. “Investigations into the source and the events that led up to this pollution event are continuing, and once they are complete we will make decisions around any appropriate enforcement action. “Officers have taken water samples which are being analysed and we will keep Fife Council informed of our findings.” Anyone with concerns about pollution is urged to contact SEPA’s 24 hour report line on 0800 80 70 60. Ms Moor added: “All contact can be treated as confidential. Getting details quickly will mean we can begin investigations much earlier and take effective action as necessary.”


Fears grow for German tourist as air search carried out above Fife coast

April 5 2017

An airborne search of Fife’s east coast has been carried out in the hunt for a missing German tourist. Claudia Philips, who was holidaying in the East Neuk, was last seen leaving the house in which she was staying in the Nethergate in Crail at around 1pm on Tuesday. However, the 51-year-old failed to return to the address and concerns are growing for her welfare. © SuppliedClaudia Philips has not been seen since Tuesday afternoon. Ms Philips was spotted walking in a south westerly direction towards Anstruther along the Fife Coastal Path, and there are fears she may have got into difficulties somewhere along the route. Both lifeboats from Anstruther’s RNLI station searched the coastline and the Firth of Forth for around three hours on Tuesday evening before being stood down as darkness fell. The search continued by air on Wednesday morning, as members of the UK Civil Air Patrol Scotland (UKCAPS) charity, also known as Sky Watch, scoured a stretch of coast between Cellardyke and Crail at first light. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Posted by UK Civil Air Patrol – Scotland on Wednesday, 5 April 2017 Claudia is described as white, 5ft 2ins tall with a slim build and grey wavy collar-length hair. Inspector Neil McKenzie said: “Claudia is on holiday in Crail, so is unlikely to know the North East Fife area well and as such we are keen to trace her as soon as possible. “Anyone with information that can help us locate Claudia should contact police immediately.”