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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...

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

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.

Rocktalk

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.

Dundee

Matthew Pope trial hears of bloodied body found in Lochee flat

January 21 2014

A police officer found a blood-stained body covered in pieces of furniture on the floor of a Dundee flat, a murder trial in Aberdeen has been told. The officer told of the grim discovery on the first day of the trial of Matthew Pope, 22, who is accused of battering 29-year-old Michael Given to death with a piece of wood and a television set last July. Sergeant Martin Jenkins said he and a colleague were called to Elders Court in Lochee after a report a resident had been threatening a neighbour. Sgt Jenkins said he had gone to the flat at around 12.35am but there was no answer. He noticed the front door of the opposite flat was ajar and had a bloodied handprint on it, and there was no answer when he knocked. Asked by prosecutor Douglas Fairley QC to describe the scene inside the flat, Sgt Jenkins replied: “There was a male lying face down on the floor with broken furniture on his back and legs. A flatscreen TV was lying on his legs. The man’s face was resting on what appeared to be a pool of blood.” The officer said the man was “cold to the touch” with no signs of life. The trial also heard from Elders Court caretaker Rowena McIntosh, 45, who was on duty that evening. She said Ryan Crighton, who lived opposite Michael Given, had approached her and Paul Taylor in the Elders Court concierge office around 10.40pm. Ms McIntosh said he appeared “agitated, frightened, angry and restless” and said Mr Given had been threatening him. She said Mr Crighton had called the police from the office and they told him to stay there until they arrived. The trial was shown CCTV footage from 11.46pm of a man wearing a red top that both the prosecution and defence agreed was Matthew Pope entering the building. The caretakers had subsequently investigated a “commotion” and found Matthew Pope, Ryan Crighton, a girl with red hair and another man on the third floor. She said Pope was “very angry” and Ryan Crighton was trying to calm him down. Ms McIntosh said: “Matthew ran back up the stairs and Ryan followed him. We heard a door bang and they ran back down the stairs. Matthew’s head was cut.” Pope is accused of murdering Mr Given on July 20 or 21 last year by punching, kicking and stamping repeatedly on his head and body, striking him with a piece of wood with nails protruding from it, striking him with a television and inflicting blunt-force injuries to him. He is accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by removing blood-stained clothing and disposing of evidence in a bin. He faces three other charges assaulting Mr Given by inflicting blunt force injuries, adopting an aggressive and threatening manner towards Paul Taylor, Rowena McIntosh and Douglas McIntyre and assaulting a man in Victoria Road, Dundee on February 10 last year. He denies all charges. The trial before Lord Armstrong continues.

Scottish Championship

Raith Rovers ask SFA to investigate Rangers player’s recall

September 3 2015

Raith Rovers have requested that the SFA compliance officer Tony McGlennan investigates whether Rangers broke the governing body’s rules by bringing Ryan Hardie back early from Scotland Under-19 duty ahead of Saturday’s clash between the two Championship sides at Ibrox. The Kirkcaldy club say that Rangers assistant manager David Weir helped secure the player’s release before the Under-19s face Bulgaria tomorrow night. While Hardie will now be available to play at Ibrox, Raith will be without on-loan Dundee striker Craig Wighton who has remained with the squad. In a statement, the club said: “Ahead of Saturday’s Ladbrokes Championship match versus Rangers at Ibrox, Raith Rovers FC has today asked the Scottish FA’s Compliance Officer to consider whether he agrees that Rangers FC, through David Weir, have breached SFA Articles and Rules by requesting and securing the early release of its player Ryan Hardie from international duty with Scotland Under-19s in Bulgaria, for the sole reason that he is then available to play against Raith Rovers. “Raith Rovers FC also has an important player in the same Under-19 squad, 1st team regular Craig Wighton. Craig remains in Bulgaria and available for selection for Friday evening’s national representative match. “He will fly home with the rest of the squad on Saturday afternoon. We are delighted that Craig is receiving international recognition, and whilst we are without his services for the crucial match with Rangers, our loss is Scotland’s gain. “Naturally we are concerned that if there is any breach of Article 82.1 and Rules 56 & 57, this would in these circumstances result in an unfairness in terms of players available for selection for Saturday’s match, which is to our disadvantage.” Scottish FA Article 82.1 states: “If any player selected to attend any international or other match arranged by the Scottish FA refuses without good and sufficient cause to comply with the arrangements for playing in such match or fails to attend such match, the Judicial Panel may find him to have been in breach of this Article 82.1, and any club or official or Team Official or other member of Team Staff who may be found to have encouraged or instigated or caused such player so to refuse shall likewise be deemed to be in breach of this Article 82.1 and the provisions of Article 95 shall apply.”

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.

Scottish League 1

Peterhead 3 Forfar 2: McIntosh breaks Loons’ hearts

February 15 2016

Forfar Athletic are still looking for their first victory under Gary Bollan as their League One winless streak extended to 16 games with a narrow loss to high-flying Peterhead at Balmoor Stadium. The Loons are now six points adrift of third-bottom Cowdenbeath whom they still have to play twice and just one in front of Angus rivals Brechin City. Jim McInally’s Blue Toon got off to a flying start with the opener after just four minutes. It was a nightmare for Forfar keeper Darren Hill who should have turned a 20-yarder from Nicky Riley out for a corner but instead fumbled the ball towards the back post where Rory McAllister pounced to score from a tight angle, his 27th of the season and his 100th in a Peterhead shirt. The visitors were back in the game after a quarter of an hour. Former Hamilton Accies striker Andy Ryan chased what appeared to be a lost cause and managed to get in a low cross that was missed by the entire Blue Toon defence and Steven Craig tapped in fron six yards. The Loons then took the lead three minutes later. A Gavin Swankie free-kick just outside the penalty area was spilled by keeper Graeme Smith and Ryan was on hand to tap the ball over the line from a yard out. The home side’s task was made even harder four minutes later with a straight red for defender Steven Noble for what was seen as a stamp on Ryan. It was all square in the 42nd minute thanks to a simple goal from Shane Sutherland, who fired home a shot low into the far corner. Despite being a man down, it was the Blue Toon that dominated from the re-start and after going close through Sutherland, sub Leighton McIntosh was on hand to sidefoot home the winner after 75 minutes. Bollan said: “Playing against 10 men we never passed the ball or kept it well enough and we played into Peterhead’s hands by just launching the ball forward and that was massively disappointing. “It may be a confidence thing. We have a good squad of players and when we bring the ball down and play we are a decent side and we seem to be able to do for short spells in a game and we need to learn to do that more”

Dundee

Elders Court murder trial hears blood spots matching DNA of accused were found on door

January 29 2014

Blood matching the DNA profile of a Dundee murder accused was found on the front door of his alleged victim’s flat, a trial has heard. A police forensic scientist said the likelihood of it coming from anyone other than Matthew Pope was more than one in a billion. The trial in Aberdeen heard a pair of jeans soaked in blood matching alleged victim Michael Given’s DNA were also found in Pope’s girlfriend’s flat. Pope, 22, denies murdering Mr Given at his home in Lochee’s Elders Court on July 21 last year by punching, kicking and stamping repeatedly on his head and body and striking him with a piece of wood. A charge alleging Pope attempted to defeat the ends of justice by concealing and destroying evidence by hiding clothing and a piece of wood was dropped by prosecutors on Wednesday. During the final day of Crown evidence, police forensic scientist Fariha Abidi, 41, told the jury she had examined items and blood patterns in Mr Given’s sixth-floor flat and its surroundings. These included a fingerprint in blood matching Mr Given’s DNA and a blood swab matching Pope’s on the outer door of the flat. Ms Abidi had also tested fingernail swabs taken from Pope on July 21. She said: “One swab was blood-stained with a mixed DNA profile of two individuals. Matthew Pope and Michael Given could produce such a DNA profile.” Ms Abidi said jeans recovered from Pope’s girlfriend Melissa McKay’s second-floor Elders Court flat had saturated blood staining matching Mr Given’s profile in the knee area, indicating possible contact with “a large volume of blood”. Referring to blood found on Mr Given’s living-room wall, Douglas Fairley QC, prosecuting, asked: “Could it be consistent with a kick into wet blood at that level or a stamp into the source of blood or striking with an implement or weapon? “Yes,” she replied. Ms Abidi said a small spot of blood matching the DNA profile of Ryan Crighton was found on the living-room wall but that its age could not be determined. Cross-examined by defence QC Brian McConnachie, Ms Abidi agreed that no DNA matching Mr Pope’s profile had been found on two pieces of broken wood found in Mr Given’s flat and a communal bin. Pope denies murder and has lodged special defences of incrimination against Ryan Crighton and Aaron McHugh and a special defence of self defence against Michael Given. The trial continues.

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