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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...

Bournemouth beach crowned number one

February 21 2018

Dorset’s Bournemouth Beach has been named by travellers as the best in the UK.The seven-mile long stretch of sand was also ranked number five across the whole of Europe, travel site TripAdvisor said.It was praised for offering traditional seaside attractions, beach huts for hire, water sports and stunning views of the Isle of Wight and the Isle of Purbeck.The bay has its own micro-climate, giving it some of the warmest sea temperatures in the UK.Bournemouth Beach’s number one ranking was based on the quality and quantity of reviews and ratings on TripAdvisor over the past 12 months.Councillor Pat Oakley, cabinet member for tourism and leisure at Bournemouth Borough Council, said the town was “delighted and honoured” with the accolade.He went on: “We’re especially thrilled with our international ranking.“As the UK’s best seaside town, we’re immensely proud to offer world class beaches on British shores without the need to travel abroad.“The beaches are a precious and special part of the area’s natural environment and constant vigilance is required in their protection.”Luskentyre on the Isle of Harris was number two on the UK list, followed by Rhossili Bay, Swansea and Brighton Beach.The number one beach in the world was named as Grace Bay, a Turks and Caicos resort in the Caribbean.:: The top 10 beaches in the UK according to TripAdvisor are:1. Bournemouth Beach, Dorset2. Luskentyre, Isle of Harris3. Rhossili Bay, Swansea4. Brighton Beach, Brighton5. Weymouth Beach, Dorset6. St Brelade’s Bay Beach, Jersey7. Hengistbury Head, Dorset8. Three Cliffs Bay, Swansea9. Fistral Beach, Newquay10. Barafundle Beach, Pembrokeshire

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

From the Newsroom

Coming up in Saturday’s Courier Damning stuff

January 2 2015

Ahh, Tayside and Fife. Home to some of the nation’s finest tourism hotspots. From the fantastic fairways of St Andrews, to the sweeping majesty of the Angus Glens, Courier Country has it all. And for many millions the most iconic sight in Scotland is the Swilcan Bridge on the world famous Old Course. It’s simple beauty, it’s huge significance, the famous shoes that have clattered across it... Such an evocative sight. And yet, at the end of the day, “just a small stone bridge”. Or so one TripAdvisor reviewer thought. Hey-ho. What about the Angus Glens then? Nothing small or insignificant about them surely? There are few finer sights than the rolling hills and babbling brooks of the Glens. Or perhaps the landscape “could be better”. Harrumph. In Saturday’s Courier we run the rule over some of the most astonishing reviews on TripAdivsor. So perhaps Scotland is made, not by the beauty of its environs, but by the quality of its products. Chief among them, surely, the bagpipes. But what’s this? Could the very future of the pipes be under threat? Could the chanter be forever silenced? Heaven forfend. We find out more. Meanwhile, Bob Servant’s creator has some new scripts. And they are causing a big stir. In LA. Wowser. Don’t miss Saturday’s Courier for full mind-blowing details. Still looking for a New Year’s resolution? I’ve got one for you. Enjoy every single day (apart from Sunday, Christmas Day and indeed New Year’s day) in the company of the galaxy’s finest newspaper (title yet to be officially confirmed). For starters, please do ensure you pick up Saturday’s Courier. Failing that why not put your new digital device to the test (if indeed Santa was so generous last week) by trying our digital edition?

Perth & Kinross

Pitlochry hotel named one of the most romantic in Britain

January 24 2017

A Highland Perthshire venue has been named one of Britain's most romantic hotels by influential travel website TripAdvisor. The Knockendarroch Hotel and Restaurant, which dates back to the 19th century and was the original home of the Pitlochry Festival Theatre, also ranks 10th in the UK's small hotels category in the Travels' Choice Awards, and 15th for best service. Owner Louise Lothian said: "We are delighted to be recognised by TripAdvisor. Thanks most go to our wonderful guests for sharing their experiences through reviews, but also to our talented team whose dedication to Knockendarroch is really what makes this possible." The hotel, which was voted the fourth most romantic in Britain, previously housed the original Pitlochry Festival Theatre and box office in its grounds. Other Courier Country winners include the Crieff Hydro Hotel which came sixth in the family category. In the B&B section, the 34 Argyle Street Guesthouse in St Andrews takes the title of six-best rated in the UK and 17th in Europe, while the Loch Achray Hotel in Aberfoyle is 19th in the UK Bargain list. TripAdvisor spokeswoman Hayley Coleman said: "The Travellers' Choice awards are based on guest feedback gathered throughout the year and therefore serve as a great measure of success for those businesses which win."

Perth & Kinross

Diners rate Andrew Fairlie’s Gleneagles restaurant as among best in UK

November 4 2013

Andrew Fairlie’s restaurant at Gleneagles has achieved double success after being recognised by two prestigious bodies. The Michelin-starred chef’s business was knocked off the top spot in the Sunday Times Food List but came fifth in TripAdvisor’s 2013 Travellers’ Choice Restaurants awards. Fairlie’s Gleneagles restaurant won last year’s Food List award, which is based on 80,000 reviews from 9,000 consumers 2,000 of which are Sunday Times readers. This year’s Food List winner is Gidleigh Park, the restaurant which was No 1 in 2010. The TripAdisor’s awards honour travellers’ favourite fine dining establishments worldwide. Another Scottish restaurant, Castle Terrace in Edinburgh, came in at No 8. Mr Fairlie’s establishment beat the likes of La Gavroche in London, which is run by Michelin two-starred chef Michel Roux Jr, and Notting Hill’s the Ledbury, which also holds two Michelin stars. TripAdvisor spokesman James Kay said: “This year’s list of Travellers’ Choice Restaurants award winners proves just how diverse fine dining experiences have become across the UK. Whether you’re as far north as Auchterarder and Edinburgh or as far south as Jersey, you’ll be able to find a Travellers’ Choice winner close by.” Mr Fairlie revealed at the weekend that he suffers up to 20 epileptic seizures a day due to his battle with a brain tumour.


Craigtoun Park a big hit with TripAdvisor reviewers

June 4 2014

Craigtoun Park been regarded as the “jewel in the crown” of Fife country parks for decades and more so over the last two years after volunteers injected a new lease of life to give it a bright future. Now, the visitor attraction near St Andrews has taken a very 21st century step forward by receiving a worldwide internet-users’ award which recognises it as a destination of excellence. The Friends of Craigtoun Limited have welcomed news it has received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award. The accolade, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor. Recent reviews include: “Impressive park, friendly helpful staff, open grassy areas for picnics and playing, attractions well kept and reasonable priced although entry is free if you don’t use attractions so that’s a bargain I bought a season ticket so will be going back again and again.” Another visitor posted: “Lovely place to visit with the children near St Andrews. Great play are, trampolines,m ini golf, a small ride-on train, boating lake, fantastic gardens and lovely caf. Lots of open green space and interesting areas to explore. You can easily spend most of the day here if the weather is nice.” Chairman of the board of directors of Friends of Craigtoun Limited, Kyffin Roberts, said: “Winning the TripAdvisor certificate of excellence is a true source of pride for the entire team at the park and we would like to thank all our customers for there is no greater seal of approval than being recognised by one’s customers. “With the TripAdvisor certificate of excellence based on customer reviews, the accolade is a remarkable vote of confidence to our business and our continued commitment to excellence.” The president of TripAdvisor for Business, Marc Channon, said: “The certificate of excellence award gives top-performing establishments around the world the recognition they deserve, based on feedback from those who matter most their customers. “We want to applaud exceptional hospitality businesses for offering a great customer experience.” Fife Council agreed in March to lease Craigtoun Park to the Friends of Craigtoun Park for an initial five-year period, with an option to enter into a 25-year agreement. The Friends, a volunteer group now registered as a charity, has been operating the park under a management agreement since April last year and wishes to acquire the park on a longer-term basis, enabling it to develop the visitor attractions. The council’s executive committee approved the granting of a lease from April. The Friends are being asked to pay a peppercorn rent of £300 per annum. Under the terms of the agreement, the Friends will have the option to end the five-year lease at any time, giving three months’ notice in order to replace it with one for 25 years. The council will be responsible for maintenance and repairs at the park under the five-year lease, but such costs will be the responsibility of the Friends under the 25-year lease. The much-anticipated grand reopening of Craigtoun Park took place last July, ahead of a long, hot summer. Organisers hope this is just the beginning of a bright future for the park.

Perth & Kinross

Pitlochry’s Green Park Hotel voted one of UK’s best

January 17 2013

A HIGHLAND Perthshire hotel has been named as one of the best in the UK by global travellers. The Green Park Hotel in Pitlochry was ninth in the list of the country’s top 10 hotels compiled by TripAdvisor from hundreds of guest reviews. The long-established and family-run hotel enjoys a picturesque setting on the banks of Loch Faskally and has proved a hit with visitors over the past 12 months. Manager and owner Alistair McMenemie said the excellent reviews were “very much appreciated” and were a testament to the generosity of guests and a tribute to his staff. “We have been very lucky and people have been very kind,” he said. “We will not rest on our laurels, however, and we’ll try even harder to do better than ninth.” There was further recognition for Perthshire as Ardeonaig Hotel, on the banks of Loch Tay near Killin, placed third in TripAdvisor’s list of the UK’s best small hotels. The top UK hotel was Rudding Park in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, while the UK’s best small hotel was the Chester Residence in Edinburgh.


St Andrews ranks highly in TripAdvisor visitor survey

May 7 2011

A remarkable few days for St Andrews was topped off when it was unveiled as one of Britain's 10 most popular retreats. Last Friday the eyes of the world were trained on the ancient burgh as it played a significant part in royal wedding celebrations, and it now seems the "old grey toun" is putting traditionally more illustrious and far larger settlements such as Glasgow firmly in the shade. A report by TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel site, ranks St Andrews as the ninth best destination in the UK well ahead of Manchester, Cardiff, Newcastle and Belfast. The results of the survey, which are based on the experience of millions of travellers from around the world, received a warm welcome in Fife. Patrick Laughlin, manager of the St Andrews Partnership, told The Courier, "The town is of course still on a high after the recent royal wedding events. However, what the announcement demonstrates is that week-in, week-out, St Andrews is rated very highly by its visitors. "This accolade will mean a lot to the many businesses and organisations which work hard all year round to provide great services and amenities for their customers." St Andrews' inclusion in the top 10 sees it rubbing shoulders with some of the globe's best known sites and Mr Laughlin insists the accolade is well merited. "TripAdvisor is recognised nowadays as a genuine barometer of visitor opinion, so it means a lot to us to be ranked with the heavy hitters of UK tourism like Edinburgh, Oxford and York," he said. "The findings back up our own 2010 survey results which revealed that 96% of our visitors were likely to make a return trip to St Andrews." According to the travel website, Scotland is home to six of the UK's top 25 destinations. Edinburgh, Inverness and St Andrews took second, eighth and ninth places respectively, while Glasgow trailed in 11th, followed by Aberdeen and Oban in 20th and 25th places. Emma O'Boyle of TripAdvisor said, "These awards honour the world's best destinations as decided by those judges that really matter travellers themselves. They are testament to Scotland's impressive beauty and welcoming culture, which have clearly impressed a great deal of visitors." London came first in the study. Europe's top destination was named as Paris, while Cape Town was the world's top place for a trip.

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.