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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...


Onwards and upwards for WestFest in 2011

March 7 2011

Dundee's WestFest summer festival committee has revealed ambitious plans to become the city's biggest community festival. Last year's inaugural Westfest, which included open-air concerts at Balgay Park and Magdalen Green, was mainly restricted to the "traditional west end" of the city. Now, though, organisers want "anybody west of Broughty Ferry" to feel included in the festival, which is to be held from June 13, culminating in a large community gathering on Magdalen Green on Sunday, June 19. New chairwoman Paola McClure and her husband Alan Richardson are keen to attract people from across the city to the event. "This is for the whole of the city it's Dundee wide, not just those who live near Perth Road," Alan said. "And, of course, it's only a joke about it being for west of Broughty Ferry people from the Ferry would be very welcome to join in the fun. "We want to extend the event at Magdalen Green and we had a really positive meeting with the council this week over some of the changes we want to make." Paola added, "We need more volunteers to help out, though, as it will be quite a big event on the Sunday." Included among the plans are a secret world record attempt, details of which will be released at the event's official launch in a few weeks' time. Other plans include a giant outdoor art "exhibition" involving an iconic Dundee image on the football pitch area on Riverside that will be best seen from the air, a food, drink and farmers' market, vintage car show, community groups area and a commercial, retail and sponsors' area. A special Courier Rocktalk stage will host some of Dundee's best up-and-coming and homegrown talent. Dundee-born actor Brian Cox is the festival's patron and was at the event last year. It is hoped he will be able to attend once again.Stay up to date on plans at www.dundeewestfest.com


WestFest efforts praised by Dundee councillors

June 6 2017

Dundee’s West End councillors have thanked organisers for putting on a successful WestFest over the weekend. Despite new licensing restrictions and security measures, the annual event, held on Madgalen Green, was attended by thousands of people on Sunday. Among the main performers were Rise Kagona and The Jit Jive Band, Kashmir Crows, Miami Vince and Bowie Night. Councillor Fraser Macpherson said, “It was great to see such a huge turnout of folk on Magdalen Green at WestFest's Big Sunday and the day was a great success. “So many local residents were there and that helped to make it such a wonderful day. “Thanks go to the WestFest team for again organising such a superb community event. “The team are all local volunteers and we all owe them a great debt of gratitude for all the hard work they put in to deliver such a great day in the West End.” As well music there were food stalls, children’s events and attractions, arts and crafts, as well as a licensed bar area. In previous years, the festival had breached licensing laws and Police Scotland said they would no longer turn a blind eye. Fences were erected to stop people bringing in their own alcohol and there was additional security due to recent terrorist attacks. Councillor Richard McCready said: “I want, as a local councillor and local resident, to express my appreciation of the work done by the WestFest committee. “Everyone who attended this event owes them a debt of gratitude. "This is a great event enjoyed by people from the West End and beyond. It was great to see so many local people enjoying this event."


Thousands attend sun-kissed WestFest in Dundee

June 4 2017

Thousands of people turned out for Sunday’s WestFest event in Dundee despite new licensing restrictions and security measures. Fences were erected around the Magdalen Green site this year to prevent revellers from bringing their own alcohol on to the site. The festival, which attracts thousands of people each year, had breached licensing laws in previous years and Police Scotland said they would no longer turn a blind eye. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/441600/photo-gallery-thousands-enjoy-fun-sun-westfest/ This meant organisers had to secure a licence to serve alcohol on site from Dundee City Council and pay to have fences put up. Security was also stepped up because of recent terror attacks. But WestFest chairman Ged Gourlay said the success of Sunday’s event means it will return next year. He said: “Looking at what has happened today it wouldn’t just be me that would be disappointed if it didn’t come back next year — the crowd would be disappointed.” * For more on this story see Monday's Courier, also available as a digital edition.


Dundee WestFest’s Big Sunday will turn back the clock

June 5 2014

Dundee WestFest, which takes place this weekend, lends a vintage theme to Big Sunday at Magdalen Green this year. Around 5,000 people are expected to flood into the Green on Sunday where, in addition to the popular live music stage, bouncy castle, displays and all the usual stalls, the WestFest tent will have a vintage market inside with clothes, accessories and collectables. As ever visitors to the Green can expect to hear some of the best music that Dundee has to offer. Big Sunday is now a firm fixture on the start of summer calendar and can be enjoyed by everyone. It’s Dundee biggest live music event, with eight of the city’s best acts playing some great music at the free concert, where the audience can spend a day lounging on the grass or better still get up on their feet and dance. Stalls will be open from around 12.30pm and the bands begin at 1pm. There will be activities for children and sports taster sessions as well as the chance to try your hand at creativity with WestFest’s “decorate the green” area and a huge family craft workshop held in the star tent. The festival starts on Friday at 1.15pm with the WestFest Concert sponsored by Dundee Chamber Music at Dundee West Church. In the evening Loadsaweeminsinging celebrate their 20th anniversary at the Bonar Hall starting at 7.30pm. See more at www.facebook.com/pages/Dundee-WestFest/249944545141956 and check out Friday’s Rocktalk in the Courier’s What’s On section for the main stage line-up and timings.

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


Loch Melfort Hotel: the west at its best

May 29 2010

Take warm sunshine, add Scotland's stunning west coast, sprinkle in some freshly caught seafood and hold those legendary midges and you have the recipe for the perfect weekend, finds Nora McElhone. The three-and-a-half-hour drive from the east to the west coast of Scotland can seem like a daunting prospect on a Friday evening, but as you get closer and the scenery gets more tantalising you are safe in the knowledge that it is all going to be worthwhile. Skirting past lochs so still that they were throwing back mirror-like images of the mountains above them, we arrived at the Loch Melfort Hotel just in time to benefit from the late evening light and appreciate its incredible setting. And what a setting. The hotel boasts that it has the most beautiful location on the west coast, an assertion that I was prepared to take with a large pinch of salt when I read it on the website. Having been there, however, it would be hard to argue the point. Set right on the sea, looking out over Asknish Bay to Jura, Shuna and Scarba, the view is truly breathtaking. All of the bedrooms have sea views and our room boasted sliding doors and a terrace to maximise the impact of the beautiful outlook. Loch Melfort Hotel is perfectly placed for exploring the surrounding area and with this in mind we headed off on the Saturday morning for the Scottish Sealife Sanctuary, just north of Oban. Admission seems pretty steep at £12.50 for an adult so look out for discount vouchers and special offers before you visit, but the centre provides an interesting insight into the marine life of the area as well as some more exotic displays of fish, seahorses and a fantastic if rather shy giant octopus. The setting alone, in a pine forest on the shores of picturesque Loch Creran and the beautiful scenery in the surrounding area make it a lovely spot to visit. Driving over the historic Connell Bridge, we got a glimpse of the Falls of Lora, although they weren't at their spectacular best, which happens when the tide level in the Firth of Lorn drops below the level of the water in Loch Etive. On the ebb tide, the water from the Loch pours out through the narrows creating currents and waves that provide the perfect playground for kayakers. The hot weather meant that it was a day for pottering about and we headed back to the hotel to enjoy the sunshine and watch the yachts and fishing boats dotting about in the bay before rousing ourselves to go and explore the neighbouring Arduaine Garden. The approach to the garden is via the hotel (you can pay your entrance fee here if the National Trust office is closed) and it is a popular stopping point for visitors and coach parties who come to admire the collections of rhododendrons, magnolias, azaleas and other plants. When you are staying so close to the sea, it would be rude not to sample some of its produce and the menus of both the Chartroom Bistro and AA 2 Rosette Arduaine Restaurant feature fish and seafood in abundance. Our only disappointment was in that choosing to dine in the restaurant, we had to look on enviously as the bistro customers tucked into plates of langoustines (landed in Arduaine) that didn't feature on our menu! Dishes we sampled included a Tian of Tarbert-landed crab and avocado with sweet pepper sauce and (surprisingly delicious) avocado ice cream, followed by monkfish wrapped in Parma ham with cauliflower puree vegetable crisps and vanilla bean sauce. There is also a good selection of meat available on the menu, which is sourced from Barbreck Farm in nearby Ardfern and the selection of Scottish cheeses was one of the best I have seen. Seafood continued to be the focus of our weekend the next day, as we headed towards the Lochfynehead area and the famous Loch Fyne Oyster Bar for lunch. The community at the end of picturesque Loch Fyne boasts not only a well-known oyster bar, but is also a great location for walking, boating and is home to a local brewery, Fyne Ales, (what else?). We took the opportunity to visit another local garden, Ardkinglas Woodland Garden, where the paths and walks seemed to be shrouded in an azure haze of bluebells. The beautiful garden features a wonderful collection of rhododendrons and champion trees and, although some of the paths aren't completely pram-friendly, it was perfect for exploring with our son in a back carrier and he loved pottering about among the giant trees. Loch Fyne Oysters started life in the 1970s as a loch-side stall and now supplies seafood worldwide as well as to its chain of more than 40 Loch Fyne Restaurants. The Cairndow operation is based in a group of old farm buildings and includes the atmospheric and tardis-like restaurant and a farm shop selling Loch Fyne and other local produce. The freshest of seafood is obviously the focus at Loch Fyne Oysters, although the menu caters for all tastes, and we indulged in oysters, crab, scallops and mussels in the bustling oyster bar. It's hard to beat light, fresh, perfectly cooked seafood dishes when the weather is hot and it was difficult to make a choice from the amazing selection on offer. Depending on the time of year, the oysters are grown without the aid of any artificial input of feed at different sites on the shores of Loch Fyne. During the winter months, when the high levels of flood water in the loch means that the oysters lose condition, they are grown by Loch Fyne Oysters' partners in Argyll and the Islands. Mussels are reared on ropes near the loch's headwaters, where the prime season runs from October to May and the supply is augmented by mussels grown by partners in Argyll, the Islands and Shetland. In short, it is all lovely, Scottish produce, and what better place to enjoy it than right by the shores where it grew? After lunch, it was time to get into the car and head back home, away from the west coast sunshine and all that incredible seafood. Somehow, I don't think it will be too long before we go back. After all, the sun always shines in Argyll, doesn't it? And no, there really weren't any midges, despite the heat. We couldn't quite believe it either. Nora was a guest at Loch Melfort Hotel, Arduaine, By Oban. The hotel is offering various special deals including the Summer Sizzler four-night midweek break for £259pp, including dinner in the restaurant on two nights. The Summer Holiday seven nights for the price of five offers the opportunity to stay in the hotel's cedar wing for a week for £475pp. Tel 01852 200233 or visit www.lochmelfort.co.uk for more information. At Loch Fyne Oysters, Clachan, Cairndow, bookings are recommended during summer months and at weekends. Tel 01499 600264 or visit www.lochfyne.com Other links: Arduaine Garden, Scottish Sealife Sanctuary, Falls of Lora, Ardkinglas Woodland Garden, Inveraray Jail, Oban Passport special offers.


Pedro Obiang expected to be out for rest of season with knee injury

February 6 2018

West Ham midfielder Pedro Obiang is expected to miss the rest of the season after a knee operation.The 25-year-old Spaniard suffered medial ligament damage during West Ham’s FA Cup defeat at Wigan on January 27.The news comes as a fresh blow to manager David Moyes, who was unable to add another holding midfielder to his squad in January and is still battling with a lengthy injury list.Hammers head of medical Gary Lewin told the club website: “Pedro has undergone surgery to repair the medial collateral ligament, and we’re delighted with how it went.“He went to a specialist in Barcelona for the operation and he is in the best possible hands as the rehab process gets underway.“Pedro is likely to be out for a little while, but we are confident that he will return fit and strong in ample time for pre-season.”


West Fest art focuses on past masters

July 3 2010

As part of Dundee"s first-ever WestFest, a very special exhibition is running at the University Tower Building"s Lamb Gallery. Paola continued, "One of the paintings in the show, borrowed from Ann Patrick, James McIntosh Patrick's daughter, is a still life that my father gave to him on his 80th birthday. "There's also an Alberto Morrocco cartoon of Jimmy painting and the cartoon not only captures him at work, but also the well-known elements of a McIntosh Patrick picture the landscape and blue sky. "In fact, the card was a gentle dig because at the time that Jimmy was painting that blue sky, there was a huge storm going on with thunder clouds and lashing rain! "People will also recognise well-known works from some of his study drawings. "The McManus Galleries have Autumn at Kinnordy and we have a grid plan of that, squared off, so people can see the roots of a painting they know and love." Fascinatingly, there are also insights into the role art, in some form or other, played in daily life, even in the most stressful circumstances. James McIntosh Patrick was called up in 1940 and served as an officer in the Camouflage Corps in the Middle East and in Italy. Already recognised as an artist, in 1943 he sent a Christmas letter home to his daughter Ann, including doodles of insects he had studied to work out and understand how they camouflaged themselves. He also used photographs sent from home by his wife to create collages and new works of art. These doodles and sketches were part of a box of McIntosh Patrick paraphernalia kept together and donated to the Dean Gallery in Edinburgh. In the new exhibition, there is also a cabinet of objects seen in various still lives and there will be a chance to view sketchbooks, such as David McClure's which have hitherto remained in the family. There are also personal memories in some of the major paintings on show. Paola explained, "There is one of Ann Patrick's works called Paola on the Beach which based on a holiday in Sutherland, one of many shared with both families and branches of the Morrocco clan. "I am the yellow dot on the shoreline and I remember that smock top to this day! "There are also artistic links between the generations, even where styles are very different or people are working in very different fields. "Ann Patrick is a highly respected artist in her own right, very different from her father but some of the objects and colours she uses relate to his influence and you can spot some of the clues leading from one generation to the next. "I know myself that my work, which uses fabrics and textiles in a sculptural way, relates to my father's use of figures and the female form and there are decorative elements I have used that are inspired by his pictures. "It shows that a thread of creativity can adapt through different generations and that original and contemporary work can be based very much on what has gone before." The succeeding generations of these artistic families are represented by Paola herself, Ann Patrick and her daughter Susannah Hunter, designer who creates applique work in leather. Grandson Julian Hunter, an architect, also contributed designs he did for his uncle, Andrew Patrick and there are contributions from Alberto Morrocco's wife Vera, herself a talented artist and their son and daughter, artist Leon and designer Lisa. Morrocco-McClure-McIntosh Patrick runs at the Lamb Gallery in the University of Dundee's Tower Building until August 14. Morrocco-McClure-McIntosh Patrick celebrates the intertwined lives and internationally acclaimed works of three distinguished artists with the closest of personal and family links to the city of Dundee. Helen Brown found out more from artist and guest curator of this special show, Paola McClure. Friends and neighbours in Dundee's West End and all tutors at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, David McClure, Alberto Morrocco and James McIntosh Patrick died within months of each other in 1998. Between them, they made a lasting and indelible mark on the world of art locally, nationally and internationally, with reputations that have stood the test of time. This show, including some major paintings from all three artists, also highlights the personal and family links that brought them together as friends as well as colleagues. Paola McClure explained, "Dad was only in his 70s, Alberto was 80 and Jimmy in his 90s when they died so they did cross the generations but between them, they had years of friendship in common and the families were all closely connected. "In 1999, in fact, the RSA exhibition of that year staged a memorial tribute by showing a separate room of paintings by all three artists. "Apart from the purely artistic merit of their work, there are lots of happy personal memories and we really felt we wanted that to be an integral part of this show. "It's not a major retrospective, but there are some important pieces of work from each of the three and many of the less obvious pieces will never have been seen by the general public before." The varied works come from family collections and from corporate collections such as the Royal Bank of Scotland Collection and from personal collections. Paola and WestFest organiser Kay Macfarlane visited the RBS Gogarburn HQ to select a series of pictures, including works by both Alberto Morrocco and his son Leon and McIntosh Patrick. The family contributed work by David McClure. Paola commented, "Frank McGarry, who is in charge of buying for the RBS collection says that Alberto's Boy With Eggs is the painting he gets most calls about from researchers." It's the personal touches that make this show particularly special and revealing.


WestFest fun attracts thousands to Magdalen Green

June 9 2014

Dundee WestFest rocked in the sun (and for a couple of brief spells rolled in the rain) as thousands flocked to Magdalen Green for Big Sunday. Organisers hailed it the best yet, with families enjoying the stalls and activities, including live music on the main stage from seven bands. A bouncy castle, a roller-sledge run and face painting were the biggest attractions of the day for the multitude of children, while Arbroath smokies, crepes, the vintage tearoom and burger stalls all proved popular with the adults. Live music on the main stage was provided by Angus band Around 7, Dundee’s Syann Gilroy, The Alley, Boogalusa, Buffalo Soldiers, Vanishing People and Abandon, along with Sienna from Kinross. Chairwoman Paola McClure said: “It was fantastic from start to finish and the stallholders were all busy. I think the crowds have been amazing, probably the busiest yet.”