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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...


A flat Robinson Crusoe could truly call his home

January 10 2014

Househunters are being given the chance to snap up the Fife birthplace of the real-life Robinson Crusoe. A three-bedroom flat in Main Street, Lower Largo, built on the site where Alexander Selkirk was born, is on the market for offers of more than £150,000. The property was built where Selkirk’s thatched cottage once stood. It includes a statue and plaque commemorating its historic links. Believed to be the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe, Selkirk was marooned as a castaway on an island off the coast of Chile for more than four years. Tracy Ramsay, a property negotiator for Murray Donald Solicitors, said: “It’s a very good price and it’s lovely inside as well. “Our client bought it three years ago and extended into the attic. And there’s a lot of history attached to the property. “I would probably say somebody would be looking to buy it to rent out as a holiday home. “It’s being used as a holiday home just now. But it would also make a fantastic home, perhaps a retirement home. It’s a stone’s throw from the beach.” There has already been interest. “We’ve got quite a few viewers booked for the weekend. It’s been quite busy,” Ms Ramsay said. Selkirk was born in Lower Largo in 1676 and went on to be master of a galley commissioned for a privateering voyage in 1702. However, during a stopover at the Juan Fernndez Islands, he correctly predicted his ship the Cinque Ports was not seaworthy and decided to stay. Robinson Crusoe was first published in 1719. In the famous book, the title character survives alone until he meets up with Man Friday, another inhabitant of the island he is stranded on. Photo by David Wardle

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


Local rugby: Dundee still targeting promotion play-offs

December 19 2014

Weather took its toll on the club rugby fixture list for the first time last weekend, but while the storms are coming it’s expected pitches will be playable this weekend. Only two matches were played by Midlands teams last weekend, featuring Grangemouth first and seconds. Both won the seniors home to Alloa in Caledonia Division Two Midlands, the IIs away to Dundee University medics. It’s as you were then in BT National League One, where Selkirk managed to play at Hillhead- Jordanhill in an unexpectedly tight top versus bottom clash, which the Borderers won 29-18. That match is relevant for Midlands rugby because Dundee HSFP are at Philiphaugh this weekend, looking to seize on any chink of weakness shown by Peter Wright’s nearly faultless team. The 28-point gap between the teams is insurmountable, but Dundee hope for a strong second half to take them close to the promotion play-off, and where better to start than ending Selkirk’s unbeaten season? Selkirk have already won 22-13 at Mayfield, but Dundee are champing at the bit after three strong away performances. In Division Two only one match was played last week, Falkirk hammering Haddington to move into third, a point behind Howe of Fife and two behind leaders Hamilton. All three protagonists are away from home this week, with Howe’s trip to Greenock Wanderers looking the safest bet. Hamilton are at Aberdeenshire, who look to be on the rise, while Falkirk go to Cartha QP, who have been very strong at home this season. National Three also had just one match completed, allowing Lasswade to go top of the division. The Edinburgh side are at Dunfermline this week as they seek to stay in first, while second-placed West of Scotland take on third-placed Preston Lodge. Perthshire host Dalziel at the Inch with a decent chance to stretch the nine-point gap in the standings between the teams. In Caledonia Division One leaders Orkney are idle, giving Glenrothes the chance to make up their game in hand at home against whipping boys Ellon. Strathmore host Mackie while Hillfoots are at Countesswells to meet Gordonians. In Division Two Midlands leaders Harris travel to meet Stirling University, while second-placed Alloa, beaten last week by Grangemouth, host Panmure.

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.


Robinson Crusoe tale could be key to saving closure-threatened Fife library

December 4 2015

World famous castaway Robinson Crusoe could hold the key to saving one of Fife’s closure-threatened libraries, it has been claimed. Largo Community Council said capitalising on links with Daniel Defoe’s best known character, thought to have been inspired by local man Alexander Selkirk, could attract more people into Lundin Links Library. At present, a statue and a sign marking the village’s twinning with the Chilean island of Juan Fernandez are the only commemorations of the Robinson Crusoe connection, much to the disappointment of visitors. But a heritage centre archiving the village’s rich history, including Selkirk’s true and amazing story, could change all that. Lundin Links is one of 16 libraries across Fife earmarked for the axe by Fife Cultural Trust which needs to find savings of £813,000 a year. A final decision on the services’ future will be made by councillors on Tuesday. Peter Aitken, chairman of Largo community council, said the village should capitalise on Robinson Crusoe. “The proposed closure of Lundin Links Library is not so much a challenge but an opportunity for our community,” he said. “Tourists in the summer constantly ask us where the heritage centre and museum are and sadly we have to tell them there’s no museum, no heritage centre. “When we tell them there’s only a statue they’re extremely disappointed. “In our view the potential closure of Lundin Links Library has presented an opportunity to have a museum and heritage centre in the local library.” Campianger Heather Paterson said local people wanted to add value to their library service. If it remains open, she said, a not-for-profit community group would be formed to stage events such as author readings and to enable volunteers to open the library on a Saturday. “We would also like to make closer links with local schools,” she added. Ms Paterson said Lundin Links Library was the 16th most popular in Fife with book usage down just 2% compared with a drop of 50% in some others which will remain open under the trust’s plans. She said the community’s proposals for the service would help buck that trend and urged local councillors to back them at Tuesday’s crunch meeting.


Landmark Fife hotel with links to Robinson Crusoe goes on the market

February 23 2018

A quayside hotel with links to the real life Robinson Crusoe is on the market with a price tag of more than £900,000. The Crusoe Hotel combines a stunning location with historical character, including a footprint supposedly left by Alexander Selkirk, the man said to have inspired author Daniel Defoe to write his classic tale. The 16-bedroom hotel in Selkirk's birthplace of Lower Largo in Fife's picturesque East Neuk, has been put up for sale by owner Stuart Dykes, who also recently sold Dunnikier House Hotel in Kirkcaldy. He and wife Lesley have announced plans to retire after almost 16 years at the helm. The hotel attracts a mixture of holidaymakers, commercial visitors and golfers, many of whom are attracted by the story of Selkirk, who spent four years marooned on an uninhabited island off the coast of South America in the early 1700s. The Robinson Crusoe theme is echoed throughout the rooms which include information boards about  Selkirk, who also has a statue dedicated to him nearby in the village. Alistair Letham, a director in the UK hotels agency team at Colliers International, said: "With the hotel's location on the harbour quayside in the favoured East Neuk of Fife and close to St Andrews, the Crusoe Hotel's availability is a wonderful, indeed possibly rare, opportunity to purchase  a well-established and popular business which new owners could easily develop further by putting their own style and stamp on a very attractive establishment." The original stone building includes 16 modern en-suite bedrooms, as well as two bars, the Castaway restaurant and a lounge where the "Alexander Selkirk footprint" is set as a feature in the floor. The hotel also includes part of the pier and harbour. Selkirk, who had been with a band of buccaneers in the South Pacific before being marooned, was rescued from Mas a Tierra Island, now renamed Robinson Crusoe Island, in 1709 and arrived in England two years later. His story was told by the essayist Richard Steele in 1713 and it is widely accepted that Defoe drew inspiration from these accounts for Robinson Crusoe.

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

Perth & Kinross

Veteran sparked armed police response

May 3 2018

A military veteran has avoided jail after bombarding his ex-wife with messages saying he was going to shoot himself. Armed police were forced to rush to the Perth home of John Selkirk, 61, who had left voicemails on his estranged partners' phone saying he was in his shed with a "gun cocked with the safety catch off" on February 2 following their separation in November of last year. The former couple had set up a successful business – Mercury Signs and Designs Ltd, which, among other things, had been responsible for fitting the fascias of the Edinburgh Trams – of which Selkirk is still registered as managing director. Perth Sheriff Court heard Selkirk had given his partner just 20 minutes to respond to a voicemail saying he was going to shoot himself and that he had already taken care of his funeral arrangements. This prompted his distressed ex-wife to make an anguished call to police, who raced an armed response unit to his Edradour Terrace home. Officers found Selkirk sitting with a friend, before conducting a search of his property. No weapons were discovered. Depute fiscal Carol Whyte said Ms Shanks listened to a voicemail which said: "It's me, I am in the cup of the gods now and in about 15 minutes I will end it all. "I have a gun in my hand, it is cocked and the safety catch is off and I am in the shed. The funeral has been arranged. Call me back, bye-bye, I love you." Ms Whyte told the court Ms Shanks received a second call, around 30 minutes later from Selkirk, which said: "You are obviously too busy, have a good life, get on with your life. It is my choice to end it, bye-bye." Ms Whyte added: "Six armed response officers attended the scene, along with three uniformed officers. Selkirk was cautioned and charged and made no reply." In mitigation, defence solicitor Donald Elliot told the court Selkirk was a successful businessman and had enjoyed a decorated career in the military. He said: "My client is extremely distress he behaved in this stupid manner. "This incident was distressing to his former partner, an inconvenience to the police and an expense to the public purse. "He accepts in these circumstances he is in your Ladyship's hands. "Sheriff Reekie told him to be of good behaviour for three months." Sentencing Selkirk, Sheriff Gillian Wade said: "I have taken into account what has been said and it is clear to me your history is commendable. "What happened was utterly unacceptable. "It was disturbing to your partner and meant officers were called to your house at a cost." Selkirk, of Edradour Terrace, pled guilty to acting in a threatening and abusive manner by repeatedly phoning his partner on February 2 and leaving voicemails saying he had a gun and he was planning to shoot himself. Sheriff Wade fined Selkirk £1,000, reduced from £1,500 in light of his early guilty plea, giving him 14 days to pay.

Perth & Kinross

Armed police surrounded businessman’s home after chilling suicide countdown threat

February 10 2018

Armed police officers surrounded a respected Perth businessman's home after he sent his former wife a sinister countdown to suicide. John Selkirk gave his partner of eleven years just 20 minutes to contact him, otherwise he told her he was going to shoot himself. The ex army officer and director of Mercury Signs and Designs contacted Tracey Shanks detailing his intentions. She immediately called the police and within minutes a six-strong firearms team was swooping on the 61-year-old's property on the city's Western Edge. They moved in carefully, fearing that he might be in possession of a weapon. However, far from sitting in his shed "gun cocked and safety off" and with his affairs in order, they found him sitting in his garden, enjoying a cup of tea with a friend. According to a voicemail message, the friend was to have discovered his body but, instead, they were completely oblivious to the threats Selkirk had made on his own life. Perth Sheriff Court heard Selkirk and Ms Shanks had been married for eleven years, but separated on November 29, 2017. The split was difficult, the court was told, as the pair had also been partners in business. Depute Fiscal Carol Whyte said matters between them had taken a worrying turn on February 2 this year, when Ms Shanks received a text message from the accused telling her to listen to her voicemail. She then listened to the accused saying: "I'm in the lap of the gods now. In about 15 minutes I will end it. "I have a gun in my hand. The gun is cocked. The safety catch is off. I'm in the shed." He told his ex-wife funeral arrangements had been made before professing his love for her. Selkirk then gave her 20 minutes to call him. She contacted the police instead before receiving a second voicemail from the accused. Ms Whyte said: "He told her 'You've been given the best part of 30 minutes already. You're obviously too busy. Have a good life. It's my decision to end it. Bye bye'." The depute fiscal added: "By that time Mr Selkirk's friend had arrived. He was unaware of the threats that had been made. "Both were enjoying a cup of tea when a total of six firearms officers arrived. "The accused was traced in his back garden. He was not in possession of a firearm." Selkirk, of Edradour Terrace in Perth, subsequently admitted behaving in a threatening or abusive manner by repeatedly telephoning his former partner and leaving voicemails threatening that he had a gun and was going to shoot himself. Solicitor Donald Elliot told the court his client had enjoyed a distinguished military career, rising over 22 years to the rank of Warrant Officer First Class and had also had a successful civilian career. "His partner in the business was his wife," the solicitor said. "She took a major client with her when she left but that loss was nothing to the distress he felt at losing her. "The threat was, of course, to self harm and not to harm her. "She called the police because she was concerned for him." Mr Elliot accepted the threats made had been "upsetting and unfortunate". Sheriff Derek Reekie said: "They were far more than that. "They must have been deeply distressing to your former partner. "The consequences, of course, were that the police attended, with a number of armed officers responding to the threats made, albeit they were to harm yourself. "This was a disturbing incident for all involved, including yourself." He deferred sentence upon Selkirk until May 2, challenging him to remain of good behaviour.