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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...

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.

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


Calum’s photographs offer a magical mystery tour of the McManus

July 7 2017

A down-at-heel office space becomes the Swiss alps, with Napoleon on his charger; a dishevelled bedroom morphs into a lake with a white swan; a sitting-room becomes a roost for pigeons or a set for Robbie Burns; an artist’s studio transforms into a space inhabited by Bonnie Prince Charlie, with fancy-cakes replacing the colours on the artist’s palette. These are just a few of the fantastical works in a major new exhibition by artist Calum Colvin, which opens today. In Museography: Calum Colvin Reflects on the McManus Collection, the internationally renowned artist has positioned a number of his intriguing photographs within the gallery spaces, allowing them to comment upon, and relate to, selected permanent displays throughout the galleries. “The starting process of my work is a 3D studio set,” explains Calum, who is also head of contemporary art practice at Dundee University. “The set is adorned with every kind of everyday objects – from furniture, ironing boards, gramophones and wallpaper to books, prints and even monocycles. Then I paint my subject, whether it’s a scene, an episode or a portrait,” he continues. Born from a realisation of the love that local folk have for this “gem” of a museum, the exhibition reflects on Dundee and its place in Scottish, British and world culture, using elements relating to the landscape, history and the people from early times to the 20th Century. “There is a strong historical link but also the notion of value in everyday items is at the heart of what I do and I hope I can help people look at the McManus collection in a different way,” Calum reflects. “My work is narrative -driven and it would be great if they get a sense of context between the two.” The exhibition comprises around 20 of Calum’s works, some of which have been created especially for the McManus, while others have been adapted from previous works and presented in a different way. The end result is magical – stunning works, almost like puzzles or riddles, challenge the two-dimensionality of photography. “I like revisiting things,” says Calum. “When the DCA first opened in 1999, I was the first artist on display in there. One of my works included The Common Runt, depicting roosting pigeons, and I have since shown it all over the world. Now, though, it’s part of the new exhibition so it really has come home to roost,” he smiles. Calum’s works use symbolism and metaphor, allegory and analogy, and it’s up to the viewer to put their own interpretation on them. “ “I think my work is quite simple but it can take people a long time to come to terms with it because it is so fantastical,” says Calum. “Familiar objects become fascinating and mysterious. In each photograph, the more you look, the more you see.” His ornithology works, including his personal favourite Mute Swan, can be found in the natural history gallery. “I thought back to everyone, including me, who had grown up with the stuffed animals and it struck me that the ornithology images fitted in perfectly with that,” he says. The exhibition took around two years to come to fruition. “Normally I wouldn’t commit to a show without a five-year run-up at least,” he explains. “But the deadline generated a kind of energy and it came together quite quickly. I’m exhausted but happy!” Museography: Calum Colvin Reflects on the McManus Collections: The McManus Museum and Galleries, Dundee, until October 29. Free entry. www.mcmanus.co.uk and www.calumcolvin.com  

Angus & The Mearns

Poignant kiltwalk for Angus mum in memory of her daughter

May 15 2018

A Forfar family who lost their teenage daughter to cancer is ensuring the fundraising legacy of the popular 'Laura’s Fun Day' will continue. Laura Forbes, a pupil at Forfar Academy, was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2011. She died a week after her 16th birthday in February 2013 —  this year she would have turned 21. Every year since her death, Forfar Academy ran the fun day at Murton Farm, on the outskirts of the town, raising over £20,650 for a number of charities since 2012. The fun day is not happening this year for a number of reasons, but Laura’s mum Audrey is to take part in the Dundee Kiltwalk on August 19 in her daughter’s memory. Laura was a popular student at Forfar Academy. Like most 14 year olds, she loved spending time with her family, her friends and her boyfriend. She was an outgoing girl who was getting ready for exams, took part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and coached Forfar Falcons. She received the Jan Wilson Memorial Award in 2010 for her voluntary work with the local swimming club. Laura missed a lot of school life as she underwent intensive chemotherapy and operations. Her parents, Audrey and Donald, said she continued to be a positive and happy girl who was always thinking of others and who coped remarkably well. During Laura’s treatment, the family were told about Calum’s Cabin, a special retreat on the Isle of Bute where children with cancer and their families could visit together. They were offered a week’s holiday where they enjoyed being together away from a hospital environment. They urge everyone to do something special and get involved with this year’s Kiltwalk in Dundee for Calum’s Cabin to help more families have the opportunity to visit Bute. Audrey said: “We travelled miles for Laura’s chemotherapy and numerous operations and the constant travel and separation made it hard to have any sense of normality as a family whilst going through an immensely emotional and challenging time. “Going to Calum’s Cabin felt like a real escape for us as a family; getting off the ferry at Rothesay meant leaving behind all the stress for one week. “It was a proper break for Laura and for her younger brother Daniel too, to just be a child and a teenager”. Calum’s Cabin covers the ferry fares, entrance to all visitor attractions on the island are free of charge, and food hampers and spending money is provided to all visiting families. Audrey continued: “At Calum’s Cabin we were able to be a normal family for a little while and relax knowing the charity had thought of everything to make our week more comfortable, memorable and peaceful. “To remember Laura, we did the Kiltwalk for Calum’s Cabin last year and loved it — it was an incredibly special day.” Calum’s Cabin is asking individuals, workplaces and organisations to get involved and support the charity this year to help fund its work. Last year, all of the events around Scotland raised over £100,000 for Calum’s Cabin thanks to just over 350 walkers who took part. All funds raised are topped up by 40% by The Hunter Foundation, making every penny go even further. To sign up for The Kiltwalk for Calum’s Cabin, visit www.thekiltwalk.co.uk or email enquiries@calumscabin.com for more information.

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

Family Matters

A great escape to Scotland’s furthest corners awaits couple

June 22 2016

Actor and motorbike addict Steve McQueen once said: “Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting.” And while biker Calum Laird isn’t quite such a fanatic, he’s taken McQueen as his inspiration for a tough charity venture. Retired journalist Calum (he was the editor of Commando comic books) and wife Liddy, both 59, from Newport-on-Tay, aim to complete more than 1,000 miles in just two days on one motorbike, a BMW 1200GS, taking in four corners of mainland Scotland (Mull of Galloway, Ardnamurchan, Thurso and Peterhead) between June 25-26 to raise funds for a school in Uganda. Calum explains how the crazy endurance plan, named the 48-Hour Fence-Loupers project, was born. “Liddy, a local dentist, formed The Uphill Trust, a small Scottish charity, three years ago with a very simple aim — to build and maintain Uphill Junior, a small rural school for three 12-year-olds in western Uganda,” he said. “The charity has made huge progress in less than three years and if that pace can be kept up, the school could soon be running on its own. “However, it really needs a security fence round it. Steve McQueen’s best-known motorcycle moment was the famous fence jump in The Great Escape, so it occurred to me to roll the two together – bikes and fences. There was no chance we were going to replicate McQueen’s jump (or loup to use the Scottish word) so an endurance trip around the four corners of Scotland seemed the next best thing.” And as Uphill School is at 5,000ft above sea level, the couple plan to go past Leadhills Primary School — the primary with the highest altitude in Scotland. Thanks to generous sponsors, the couple are approaching their goal of £1 per mile, which will give them enough to pay for the fence. “I’m looking forward to two days on a bike, on Scottish roads, in good weather with my best pal on the back seat,” says Calum. “Mind you, if it rains, it might not be too much fun. Then there’s the possibility we might end up having to walk like cowboys for the week after the run. Oh and there might be midges.” To donate visit: www.totalgiving.co.uk/mypage/48HFL. For more information, go to www.uphilltrust.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.

Dundee FC

Dundee boss praises young keeper Calum Ferrie

April 10 2018

Dundee boss Neil McCann has hailed youngster Calum Ferrie after the keeper was handed a baptism of fire against Rangers at the weekend. The 19-year-old was called off the bench to make his debut at Ibrox on Saturday after Elliott Parish sustained an injury five minutes from time. McCann has admitted that January signing Jeremy Malherbe may feel hard done by at being denied the chance to make his bow. However, the Dens Park boss insists Ferrie fully deserved his opportunity and reckons the experience will serve the teenager well in the future.   McCann said: “The circumstances, I think, could have been kinder. We don’t enjoy losing our goalkeeper. “But that’s just a mark of Calum’s progression this year. “I brought in Jeremy and he’s probably a bit frustrated and thinks he should have been there. “But I felt Calum’s performances in the 20s have been good and his levels in training have been really high. “He would have got a lot from that. “He wouldn’t have enjoyed conceding, because he’s been such a hard keeper to beat in training. “But it’s nice for him to get a taste of it.” Dundee handed new 12-month contracts to youngsters Cedwyn Scott and Dan Jefferies on Friday and Scott was rewarded with a substitute’s role against Rangers. McCann added: “We had young Cedwyn Scott on the bench as well and I’m delighted he’s extended [his deal] with us. “So, the future’s bright for Dundee.”

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.