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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...

Angus & The Mearns

Gingerbread tribute to the Wee Red Town

October 14 2013

When Libby Jones was invited by Bank Street Gallery owner Susie Clark to exhibit at her gallery in Kirriemuir, she became intrigued by the history of the town. As well as Kirriemuir’s most famous son and Peter Pan author JM Barrie, she discovered the town had also been home for a time to AC/DC singer Bon Scott, Victorian mountaineer Hugh Munro, and 19th century writer Violet Jacob. She found the town had been a hotbed of witchcraft in the 16th century and is also world famous for its gingerbread and decided to combine all these elements. Ms Jones went on to craft a boxed set of prints, which also doubles as a card game. She said: “This tongue-in-cheek edition of 10 boxes, of 20 cards per box, features Kirriemuir characters presented on a slice of gingerbread on a plate. I have also made a poster featuring all the 10 characters in the game.” Visitors can see images of Edinburgh Castle with fireworks, wildlife such as gannets, and artwork made after a visit to Antarctica. Londoner and master printmaker Ms Jones exhibited work from her sub-zero stay at a Discovery Point exhibition in Dundee last year. Children can see her work Cooking the Climate, a comment on global warming, which consists of a microwave oven and slideshow with rotating polar animals. There is also a fossilised mobile phone in a second installation, Fossils of the Anthropocene an exploration of the traces that might remain of civilisation in 50 million years’ time. She is also exhibiting a selection of her woodcuts, linocuts, collagraphs and screenprints at the gallery. The exhibition runs until November 8 and opening hours can be found on www.bankstreetgallery.org, or by telephoning 01575 570070.

Angus & The Mearns

Arbroath man kissed gran goodbye before taking bag of knives to ‘exact revenge’

February 21 2014

A knife obsessive “kissed his grandmother goodbye” before he took a bag of blades to “exact revenge” on another man. Conor Munro, from Arbroath, was jailed for more than three years after Forfar Sheriff Court heard he posed a “significant and random danger to the public” due to his self-professed love of carrying knives. Munro, 21, took a bag of nine blades from his grandmother’s kitchen, ranging from four to 10 inches, before turning up at his ex-girlfriend’s door in search of a man in the house. Munro previously admitted an indictment alleging that on October 5 last year, at Sidney Street in Arbroath, he behaved in a threatening manner and attempted to enter the property in possession of a knife and a bag of knives. Sentencing him, visiting Sheriff Valerie Johnston said Munro only avoided the maximum sentence under statute four years in jail due to his early guilty plea. She said: “He took these knives with intent to exact revenge on a young man who he believed disrespected him. “He kissed his grandmother goodbye, told her he loved her, and he knew he was going on a course of action that meant he would go to prison.” Sheriff Johnston said a report compiled by social workers betrayed a dangerous “ideation about knives” possessed by Munro. “It says that when he drinks, he looks to take a knife,” she said. “With a knife, he said, no one thinks they are better than him.” Defence solicitor Lynne Sturrock said: “He is under no illusion that custody is the only option for him. “He apologised to his grandmother and said he wouldn’t be back.” The court previously heard Munro’s 22-year-old ex-girlfriend had asked him to leave when he appeared at her home around 4.30am. However, he returned 30 minutes later and when she opened the door she saw him holding a knife at waist level, and a bag in his other hand. Munro tried to enter the flat to approach a man who was also in the property, asking him: “Do you think you’re a big man now?” The man phoned 999 and Munro then left the flat to go to his father’s house, where police traced him shortly after. Officers found a range of steak knives which the accused had taken from his grandmother’s home, with whom he stayed at the time. Munro has been on remand or licence for four of the last six years. In 2011, he was convicted of assaulting a woman on December 30 2010 with intent to rob at the High Court in Edinburgh.

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


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

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

Angus & The Mearns

Kirriemuir honours man who gave his name to Scotland’s iconic mountains

October 17 2015

The man who first charted and gave his name to Scotland’s highest peaks has been honoured in Kirriemuir. Angus provost Helen Oswald unveiled a commemorative plaque to Sir Hugh Thomas Munro at the Gateway to the Glens Museum. Sir Hugh was born in London in 1856 as the eldest of nine children of Sir Campbell Munro, 3rd Baronet of Lindertis, Kirriemuir, and his wife Henrietta. As a 17-year-old, Sir Hugh went to Stuttgart to learn German and fell in love with the Alps and with mountains more widely. In 1880 he went to South Africa and became Private Secretary to Sir George Colley, then governor of the Natal province. He returned to Kirriemuir, and took on the role of managing the family estates, first on behalf of his uncle, Sir Thomas Munro, then on behalf of his father. There he became active in politics, standing in 1885 for the constituency of Kirkcaldy Burghs and organising the Conservative and Unionist Party, though the cause was unpopular in Scotland. He worked hard at organising the local political life in Forfarshire, and also served on the County Council. More important to his legend, he helped found the Scottish Moutaineering Club in 1889, and in September 1891 published his now famous Tables of Heights over 3000 Feet, a list of 283 separate 3,000-feet mountains. Sir Hugh was fascinated by mountain topography and was a compulsive note-taker, particularly regarding the views from a summit. Over the next two and a half decades he constantly checked and modified his data. In 1921, two years after his death, a second version of the Tables appeared largely incorporating his refinements. This listed 276 Munros and a total of 543 Tops. A 1974 version gave 279 Munros and a total of 541 tops. Other versions with modifications appeared in 1981, 1984, 1990 and 1997. During the First World War, he relocated to Tarascon, in the south of France, running a canteen for French troops where he eventually succumbed to a bout of pneumonia. His body was returned to Scotland and was buried near Lindertis, in Angus, on April 2 1919. Munro’s untimely death in France meant he fell fractionally short of climbing all of his own list of peaks and tops. In a short piece written in 1917 for the Cairngorm Club Journal, he remarked: “I still aspire to stand on the summit of the only three ‘tops’ in Scotland exceeding 3,000 feet in height which I have not yet climbed.” The Rev A E Robertson completed the first round of the Munros in 1901. Since then, over 4,000 people have completed the Munros, enjoying the challenge and exercise along the way. Many have their names and dates, along with a unique Munroist Number, recorded annually in the Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal and at www.smc.org. Members of the SMC assisted with the wording of the Kirriemuir plaque. The plaque was commissioned by Historic Scotland as part of their Commemorative Plaques scheme which began in 2012. All nominations recognise people who have made a significant contribution to Scotland and its people.

Angus & The Mearns

German ‘Munro baggers’ hit Montrose for former Runrig frontman’s gig

October 6 2014

A German army of die-hard Donnie Munro fans is planning to invade Angus. Contrary to long-held beliefs, German musical tastes range wider than David Hasselhoff. Runrig had a huge following in Germany during the 80s and 90s, when Munro was lead singer of the Gaelic band. Munro’s popularity in Germany has continued since he left the band in 1997 and pursued a solo career. There is also a Runrig fan club in Germany, based in Wuppertal a city east of Dusseldorf. Earlier this year Munro performed 12 gigs for his adoring fans across Germany, including stops in Hamburg, Hannover, Freiburg and Oberhausen. Now his German army is to travel to Scotland to watch him perform an acoustic set at Montrose Town Hall. Charlie Campbell of North East Musical and Sports Promotions said there had been “massive demand” from Germany. He said: “I knew he was big in Europe but I didn’t realise just how popular he was. “Looking through the names, there are a few Germans booked up already and Donnie’s website manager said there are more coming. “It’s definitely a pleasant surprise and it will be a great boost for the Angus economy. “His popularity in Germany seems to be a follow-on from his days in Runrig. “For one lady coming over from Germany this will be the 75th time she’s seen Donnie.” Munro will perform an acoustic set of solo songs and Runrig classics in Montrose on Valentine’s Day. Only a handful of tickets remain for the Angus gig, which will feature special guests Eric Cloughley, Maggie Adamson and support from Colin Clyne. Munro’s concert marks another big music date for the town following Status Quo’s MoFest headline gig in May and Big Country’s forthcoming show on December 13. Munro, 60, joined Runrig full-time in the early 1980s. The band went on to become one of Scotland’s most popular acts. In 1991 Runrig performed to an audience of around 50,000 on the banks of Loch Lomond at Balloch Castle before undertaking a mammoth tour of Europe. Munro left Runrig in 1997 following three farewell concerts at Stirling Castle. He then embarked on what turned out to be a short-lived political career. However, the singer returned to the music business in 1999 as a solo artist and continues to tour. More information can be found at www.eventbrite.co.uk.

Angus & The Mearns

David raises awareness of dementia cafe after losing wife of 54 years

November 10 2016

A Tayside man has told how dementia cruelly rapidly robbed him of his wife of 54 years. David Munro, 76, said it was terrible to watch Jean deteriorate so quickly before she passed away in October. The couple, who were born in Dundee, lived together in Montrose for the past 30 years before their hopes of a long retirement together were sadly dashed by Mrs Munro’s diagnosis. He said: “When I look at a photo of her from Christmas and compare it to when she died it is hard to believe how quickly somebody could go downhill. “Alzheimer’s is a form of cancer in the brain - every time you have these mini-strokes part of you dies. “It’s a very gradual disease in the early stages - she would get up to make a cup of tea and forget what she was doing. “Then it snowballs and you can’t actually fasten the buttons on your cardigan. “It’s a terrible disease and it is heartbreaking to watch a loved one deteriorate like this.” Mr Munro, who was an auto-electrical engineer, wants to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Diseases and the work of an Angus dementia drop-in cafe to support sufferers and their families. The monthly drop-in café provides an opportunity for people with dementia and their carers to meet and chat with others in a similar situation over a ‘cuppie’. He was speaking after handing over £510 which was collected at Mrs Munro’s funeral to the Angus Dementia Resource Centre which runs the monthly cafe. Mr Munro looked after his wife for five years before she was eventually moved to a care home where she passed away with her family by her side. “We used to go once a month to the drop-in cafe at Montrose which we called Mr and Mrs,” said Mr Munro. “There is a great variety of people of different ages who use the cafe - sadly it is a disease that is also starting to hit younger people. “My wife still had her memories and she enjoyed chatting to people who were going through what she was. “I also found it of huge benefit to speak to carers who were in my position. “My wife was also a dog lover and Angus has the only dementia dog in Scotland. “It’s a fantastic resource and I really want to highlight just how much it helped us. “The family wanted to give something back and people were very generous.” Mrs Munro is survived by her daughter Susan and grandchildren Ben and Kyle.