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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...

Perth & Kinross

Badger recovering after tricky sluice gate rescue

February 18 2014

A badger is recovering after being found injured and exhausted in a Fife river. The two-year-old female managed to scramble on to a sluice gate in Kinross after falling into the River Leven. The animal, named Brenda by the SSPCA staff who rescued her, has been transferred to the charity’s wildlife centre at Fishcross and it is hoped it will be fit for release later this week. The brock was plucked to safety by animal rescue officer Beverley O’Lone and a colleague. Beverly said: “We think the badger had fallen into the water and somehow managed to pull herself up on to the sluice gate but she became stuck and was in a great deal of distress. “It was quite a tricky rescue and my colleague secured himself to the gate by a harness to stop him falling into the water while pulling the badger to safety. “The badger’s leg was bleeding from where she’d been scrambling to get on top of the gate and she was absolutely exhausted so I took her to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre.” The badger was given antibiotics and painkillers for grazing on her hind legs and feet but otherwise was in “very good condition”, weighing a healthy 10kg. Centre manager Colin Seddon said: “The badger was very shocked initially but she is doing much better now. “Being part of the weasel family, badgers can swim but they tend to only do this out of absolute necessity and will usually try to avoid it. “The badger is continuing to receive medication for her leg injury and is being closely monitored but we have every hope she will soon be fit enough for release back in the wild.” Earlier this week it was revealed that a live badger was rescued from a sewer at Drongan in Ayrshire.

Robert McNeil

The trouble starts at breakfast

May 7 2016

I have reached a point of crisis in my early morning routine. Before elaborating, allow me first to define my terms. By “early”, I mean about 9am. By “crisis”, I mean a matter of minor importance in the great scheme of things (and even in the rubbish scheme of things). And by “routine” I refer to several activities, as the term infers, but intend this week’s lecture to concern only one of these. Certainly, I don’t refer to showering, which I delay till the afternoon. Ditto teeth brushing. The busy executive has no time for such frivolities first thing in the morning. Nor do I refer to exercises. I do a very small amount of these in the morning and, thankfully, they do not require me to move. I do breathing and relaxation exercises. They don’t work. Usually, within the hour, I am cursing the gods and collapsing to the floor in a tear-stained heap, crying “Why? Why?” This might be occasional by a trivial happenstance such as discovering I’ve run out of pumpkin seeds. Which terrible tragedy brings me to my actual subject: I speak, madam, of breakfast. Feel free to make notes as I brief you as follows. For many years now, I have eaten the same breakfast. Perhaps I should rephrase that. I am not regurgitating and eating again the exact same meal. No, I mean the same substance of meal, to wit: oats, water, badger’s milk, seeds (sunflower or the aforementioned pumpkin), raisins, berries and, if I am feeling wicked, honey. I’ll just read these ingredients back. Hell’s teeth. Not badger’s milk. Coconut milk. Do you also confuse badgers with coconuts? In my case, it stems from that time I won a badger at the fair. Be that as it may, my breakfast routine now stands disturbed. It stems from my periodic stays at Swanky Towers, where I am employed from time to time to wait upon two cats. Whilst there, on a matter of principle, I consume as much of the owners’ food and drink as I can. This involves eating Cedric’s breakfast cereal. It’s a fine treat for a plain man. I care not not for the calorific horror stories carried periodically in the popular prints. Indeed, my own porridge dish probably contains more than my day’s allowance and may be why I can hardly face it some mornings. It is, to put it mildly, somewhat heavy. But these packet cereals are light and sweet. They gladden the heart, and they don’t need cooking. During my stays at ST, the cats would flee in terror as I bounded down the palatial staircase in the morning shouting “Choco rice!”,  or “Cheerios!” or, if feeling a need for excess, “Honey Monster Puffs!” Partly, it’s their association with childhood that delights. Mainly, I think my body craves them, whereas it fears the porridge. Now that I’m back among the downtrodden masses in the suburbs, I am considering replacing the porridge with cereals. This will require great cogitation. So, I will extend my breathing and relaxation exercises to 40 seconds. Shortly afterwards, I will fall tearfully to my knees in the kitchen, a packet of Shreddies in one hand, some uncooked oats in the others, as I shout: “Why? Why? Why is life never simple?”

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


SSPCA nurses wounded badger back to health

July 10 2010

SSPCA officers have released a badger back into the wild after it was found wounded in a snare in the Scottish Borders in June. Ambulance driver Mairi Stewart recovered the badger, which was then taken to the Royal Dick Vet Hospital in Edinburgh where it was treated for its injuries. The incident is under investigation. Mairi said, "The badger had a wound to its lower abdomen as the snare had caught it just above the pelvis area. "Thankfully the wire had not broken through the skin and an ultrasound revealed no serious internal injuries, apart from some bruising. "However, the badger had managed to rip out all of its back claws in its efforts to escape the snare, resulting in quite a significant amount of blood loss. "It was very weak and dehydrated and vets estimated that it had been in the snare for at least 24 hours, possibly longer." After being treated by vets the badger was transferred to the charity's Wildlife Rescue Centre at Middlebank in Fife. It was released in the Borders on Wednesday. SSPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said, "We are regularly alerted to incidents of non-target species being caught in snares including badgers, deer and domestic animals such as cats and dogs. "These incidents highlight how completely indiscriminate snares are. "While snaring continues, suffering will continue and that is why we are in favour of an outright ban on the use of snares in Scotland. "We look forward to the planned amendment to the Wildlife and Countryside act 1981, which will make it a requirement for all snares to bear an identity tag making it easier to trace those who misuse them." Anyone with information regarding the misuse of snares, or persecution of badgers, should contact the charity on 03000 999 999.

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.

Jim Crumley

JIM CRUMLEY: Let us hope badgers endure despite our terrible treatment

March 6 2018

I have been reading the runes in some of the quieter backwaters where agriculture and nature cohabit (and sometimes annoy each other the way neighbours sometimes do). And having read and thought about what I’d read, a troubling question began to take shape in my mind: how long will it be before the British Government starts culling badgers in Scotland as part of what passes for its strategy to control bovine TB in England? Far-fetched, do I hear you ask. Well, maybe. Possible? Oh yes. So here’s what’s going on. Culling badgers in the south-west of England began in 2014, when 615 badgers were killed. The Department for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) thought it was such a good idea that in 2016 they killed more than 10,000 badgers, and last year they killed 19,274. There is a problem with the strategy. It doesn’t work. In 2014 the number of cows killed because of bovine TB was 27,474, and last year it was 42,000 because the disease in cattle keeps spreading. Yet this year, Defra is examining plans to expand the areas of the badger cull, as part of a review of its strategy. Last month, the Farmers Weekly reported that it would include English counties where cattle are at low risk from contracting bovine TB, under a headline which read: “Defra could extend badger cull across all England”. This was a response to Defra’s announcement of a three-month consultation about culling badgers in counties as far from the disease hotspots as Kent in the south, Norfolk and Suffolk, and Northumbria and Cumbria in the north. According to the consultation document: “If approved, a licence in the ‘low-risk area’ of England would allow farmers or government officials to trap badgers in cages and shoot them.” This was the point at which my reading of the runes in those quiet backwaters of rural England began to alarm me. The trouble with using bureaucratic inventions like county boundaries to formulate government policies that affect wildlife is that the relevant wildlife doesn’t know the boundaries exist. They don’t care whether they are in Scotland or England because they don’t know that such places exist. They aren’t Scottish badgers or English badgers, they’re just badgers, doing what badgers do. They don’t know what bovine TB is, they don’t know why it’s a problem and the only thing that concerns them is whether there is suitable terrain for a badger sett and suitable habitat for badger food. The idea that badgers from, say, Northumbria and Cumbria, would never cross the border is a little far-fetched (it must happen hundreds of times a night), as is the idea that if Northumbria and Cumbria did become part of the cull-zone, badgers in the Borders or Dumfries and Galloway would be exempt. As luck would have it, there is ample scope for cross-fertilisation. The last national survey of badger distribution in Scotland was carried out by Scottish Badgers from 2006-2009. The areas of the highest estimated densities in the whole of Scotland were – guess where? – the Borders and Lothian. The areas of moderately high estimated densities include – guess where? – Dumfries and Galloway. Oh, and Fife. Badgers are treated appallingly by people. Badger baiting with dogs is the most grotesque of all but the toll it takes is nothing compared to 60,000 badgers a year that die on British roads; and as if that were not slaughter enough, we have now invented the outrage that is the badger cull in the name of eradicating bovine TB by 2030. If only more people in government would read The Wind in the Willows, they would perhaps understand better the futility of it all. For the Badger says to the Mole: “Very long ago, on the spot where the Wild Wood waves now, before ever it had planted itself and grown up to what it now is, there was a city – a city of people, you know. Here, where we are standing, they lived, and walked, and talked, and slept, and carried on their business. Here they stabled their horses and feasted, from here they rode out to fight or drove out to trade. They were a powerful people, and rich, and great builders. They built to last, for they thought their city would last forever.” “But what has become of them all?” asked the Mole. “Who can tell?” said the Badger. “People come – they stay for a while, they flourish, they build – and then they go. It’s their way. But we remain. There were badgers here, I’ve been told, long before that same city ever came to be. And now there are badgers here again. We are an enduring lot, and we may move out for a time, but we wait, and are patient, and back we come. And so it will ever be.”

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

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.


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.