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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

Gallery move could herald transformation for A-listed Perth building

September 26 2017

As a spin-off from the £30 million redevelopment of Perth City Hall and the museum and art gallery, one of Perth’s best-loved buildings may be transformed into a major tourist draw. Presently a much-respected but underused cultural attraction, discussions are understood to have taken place which would free up the A-listed Fergusson Gallery on Tay Street for a more commercial use. It is thought the world-renowned collection of works by the Scottish colourist John Duncan Fergusson would reach a wider audience – the current setup attracts less than 900 people a month – if housed in either the new-look city hall or museum and art gallery. This would leave the distinctive domed building free to become a major tourist attraction with a whisky-themed visitor centre among the favoured frontrunners. This vision would tie in with the council’s ambition to make more of the River Tay as a visitor attraction – the Fergusson Gallery lies close to one of the new pontoons constructed for tourist boat trips. It would also sit well with the Ancient Roots – Modern Scots theme of the city hall/museum, which will open in 2021, potentially featuring the Stone of Destiny which Culture Perth and Kinross is pushing to be returned from Edinburgh Castle. The plan has the backing of MSP Murdo Fraser who said: “The Fergusson Gallery hosts some of the most important Scottish works of art from the 20th century but unfortunately too few people are even aware of its existence. “Taking art from the gallery and making it the centrepiece of a newly refurbished city hall could finally do this fantastic collection justice. “The Fergusson Gallery is one of Perth’s most notable buildings and is a landmark and point of interest in its own right. “If the gallery was to be relocated then this great building would not be short of possible future uses and I would encourage Culture Perth and Kinross to explore all options.” Culture Perth and Kinross declined to comment on the possible relocation of the Fergusson collection.

Perth & Kinross

Leisure boating to become regular sight on River Tay

July 3 2017

A maritime training charity has struck a deal to launch boat trips on the “massively under-used” River Tay. It is the historic first phase of a highly ambitious plan to transform the waterway into a bustling thoroughfare between Tayside’s biggest cities. A limited number of taster sessions were offered as part of a seaside-theme fun day in Perth at the weekend. Now Taymara – Tay Maritime Action – has teamed up with Perth and Kinross Council and the Tay and Earn Trust to offer regular boating trips between now and October. Trips leave new pontoons at Willowgate and Tay Street, near the Ferguson Gallery, offering sails around Elcho Castle and Kinnoull Hill. The scheme is aimed at promoting the regeneration of the Fair City’s key waterway and is expected to bring in tourists from near and far. The long-term aim is to offer regular water taxi services and leisure cruises between Perth and the new V&A in Dundee. The project has been launched thanks to £700,000 of funding from the Big Lottery’s Coastal Communities Fund. Work began on the new pontoons last summer. Award-winning marine moorings specialist Gael Force was appointed to design and install the berths. The council had originally wanted to create a third pontoon at Elcho Castle, but an agreement could not be reached.   David Clarke, who chairs the Tay and Earn Trust, said: “The River Tay is an important and unique asset for Perth City and developing the infrastructure along the inner Tay to improve access and attract visitors to the area is vital. “I am delighted that the pontoons at Willowgate and Fergusson Gallery have now been installed. Overnight day moorings are available at the Willowgate pontoon.” Due to tide times, boating trips need to operate during restricted hours and will be weather dependent. A special “back to nature” early river trips will be depart on occasional Sunday mornings. The pontoons represent the first major project to be carried out as part 
of the Perth City Plan, a vision of improvements for the city to rolled out over the next 20 years.

Perth & Kinross

Stories of whisky and war at museums festival in Perth

May 12 2015

A hidden belt used to smuggle whisky from illicit stills will be just one of the items to feature in the Festival of Museums celebrations in Perth. Whisky was illicitly produced across the Highlands and Islands to avoid payment of the “malt tax” imposed in 1713. The practice continued until distilling was legalised by the Excise Act of 1823. The belt, along with part of one of those illicit distilleries, will feature in a whisky tasting at Perth Museum and Art Gallery on Saturday. The £20-a-head session will be led by experts and offers the chance to sample five different Perthshire whiskies, discover more about the area’s world-famous whisky production heritage and explore related objects in the museum’s collection. Drinkers will also be able to take part in a tour of Perth’s historic hostelries. Taking place at Perth Museum and Art Gallery on Friday, it will be led by local archivist and pub enthusiast Steve Connelly. For children there will be a puppet show and puppet workshop on the theme of the Gingerbread Man, which will take place on Saturday. Alyth museum will be hosting a Feast of Family Fun, which celebrates the National Year of Food and Drink. On Sunday the Fergusson gallery will host a cafe culture sketching workshop with professional artist David Faithfull. The Black Watch Castle and Museum is also taking part, with a Living History day on Saturday. The free event will see a troop of Waterloo-era re-enactors camped on site, giving musket demonstrations and re-enacting an officers’ duel. A First World War soldier and nurse will be taking visitors back 100 years while the Scottish Military Vehicles Group will have trucks and jeeps from the First and Second World Wars, as well as post-war, parked in the castle courtyard.

Angus & The Mearns

Gingerbread tribute to the Wee Red Town

October 14 2013

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

Perth & Kinross

Councillors get on board with river Tay pontoon plan

February 19 2015

Plans to boost tourism by creating a taxi service on the river Tay has taken a step nearer to reality. Perth and Kinross councillors backed the creation of a river pontoon near the Willowgate Cafe, under the Friarton Bridge. Pontoons at two other locations, Fergusson Gallery in Perth city centre and Elcho Castle further down river, had previously been granted planning permission by the council’s development management committee. By creating the pontoons at key points on the river, the council hope to make the Tay more of a tourist attraction by allowing people to enjoy a cruise downstream from the city. While the final design of the pontoon has yet to be confirmed, the pontoon will be extremely simple and modest in scale. The local sailing community had raised concerns regarding the estimated 30-metre size of the pontoon near to the Willowgate Cafe. However, councillors heard that the new pontoon will be significantly shorter than 30 metres. This would ensure that the pontoon does not cross the established navigation channel, so that commercial traffic entering the harbour and recreational activities are not affected. In a report to councillors, development quality manager Nick Brian said: “This proposal, in combination with the other pontoon proposals at Elcho Castle and the Fergusson Gallery, would create an exciting river taxi facility that will promote tourism in Perth and the surrounding areas.”

Perth & Kinross

Culture chiefs confirm Fergusson Gallery’s days are numbered

November 6 2017

Museum bosses have been forced to admit that an award-winning Perth gallery is marked for closure – after details were let slip in a council report. Culture Perth and Kinross has been tight-lipped over the future of the Fergusson Gallery, amid growing speculation that the building could be given a new lease of life. But the group, which manages the area’s museums and libraries, was forced to reveal its plan after the local authority published a document which mentioned an “alternative use” for the building. The iconic A-listed gallery was launched in the early 1990s to showcase the largest collection of work by local artist John Duncan Fergusson. The museum later received paintings and costumes by Fergusson’s lifelong partner Margaret Morris. Culture Perth and Kinross (CPK) Chief Executive Helen Smout has now confirmed both collections will move out of the building as part of the redevelopment of Perth City Hall and the Perth Museum and Art Gallery. “With the relocation of these collections, the future use of the current building will be reviewed by Perth and Kinross Council as owners of the building, with input from relevant stakeholders,” she said. “As the gallery will remain operational until late 2020/early 2021,  the focus for Culture Perth and Kinross is to ensure an interesting and varied programme of events, exhibitions and displays which continue to engage visitors with the fantastic collections we are lucky to have in our care.” The Courier understands that the building, a former waterworks, could be turned into a whisky-theme visitor attraction, although no decision has been taken. Local Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser welcomed the plan. “It’s good news that the Fergusson Collection will get more exposure when the new city hall opens in 2021,” he said. “There is also a real opportunity to turn the current building into something new and exciting. “The gallery is one of Perth’s most iconic buildings, and any future use should carry the backing of local public opinion. “I look forward to seeing what plans are put forth for the Ferguson Gallery as the current council administration have shown real ambition with their plans so far for the Fair City.” SNP MP Pete Wishart added: “I am disappointed that Perth could lose this familiar historical asset, but I do understand the importance of revamping our cultural offering. “It is vital that Perth and Kinross Council ensure that this building is brought back into use as soon as possible following the collection moving to the refurbished city hall. “It is important that Perth does not lose the Fergusson Collection and I look forward to engaging with the local authority on their plans for culture going forward.”  

Angus & The Mearns

Arbroath’s new lifeboat pays tribute to Burns’ ‘elder brother in the muse’

May 19 2014

The long history of the RNLI and the life of a great Scots poet were recalled during the formal naming ceremony for Arbroath’s new lifeboat. Members of the volunteer crew, institute officials and VIP guests gathered at the harbour on Saturday to officially welcome the D-759 Robert Fergusson. The inshore lifeboat has been named after one of the first poets to write in both Scots “leed” and English. Burns called him his “elder brother in misfortune, by far my elder brother in the muse” when he commissioned Fergusson’s headstone at his pauper’s grave in Edinburgh. Funding for the D-class boat was provided by Andrew Ferguson, who spoke at the ceremony. Chairman of the Lifeboat Management Group, Lt Col Ian Ballantyne, said it was a “proud and satisfying moment” to see the crew handed such a capable rescue craft, the ins and outs of which were explained by divisional operations manager Paul Jennings. Mr Ferguson paid tribute to a “remarkable intellect and talent”, who he said would have been eminent with Robert Burns if he had lived longer than 24 years. Mr Ferguson’s involvement with the RNLI began in 1992 when he had become Master of one of the old City of London companies, the Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers, exactly 200 years after Lionel Lukin, designer of the first lifeboat, had been Master. In commemoration of Lukin’s designs, Mr Ferguson made the RNLI his charity of choice during his year of office and the money raised was used to fund Coachmakers of London, a D-class inshore lifeboat which went on station in Angus in 1993. In 2005 the replacement D-class was launched at Arbroath, and named Duncan Ferguson in honour of Mr Ferguson’s father and in commemoration of the family’s origins in Perthshire. Hugh Fogarty, the RNLI’s head of operations (operational support), accepted the boat on the institute’s behalf.

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.

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