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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

Debt of gratitude repaid to Perthshire village by POW

December 2 2016

A former German prisoner of war  has repaid the kindness shown to him by the people of a Perthshire village by leaving nearly £400,000 for the benefit of local pensioners. The people of Comrie had known of Heinrich Steinmeyer’s intentions following his death in 2013 but it has taken until now to iron out the legalities and for the money to come through. The proceeds of his estate will be used exclusively to provide local developments for older people, suggested by older people. The 19-year-old German Waffen SS soldier, who was captured in France, was held in the POW camp at Cultybraggan by Comrie where he was surprised by the reaction of local people. “Throughout his captivity, Heinrich Steinmeyer was very struck by the kindness shown to him by Scottish people, which he had not expected,” said Andrew Reid, secretary of the Comrie Development Trust which will administer the £384,000 Heinrich Steinmeyer Legacy Fund. “After the war, he visited Comrie and made lasting friendships in the village. “He vowed to leave everything he owned for the benefit of older people in the place he wanted to thank.” Mr Steinmeyer died in February 2013, a fortnight after the death of George Carson, his close friend in Comrie and his ashes were later scattered in the area. Mr Steinmeyer always maintained he was lucky to be captured by the Scots and spoke of the “mercy” he was shown. Part of his will read “I would like to express my gratitude to the people of Scotland for the kindness and generosity that I have experienced in Scotland during my imprisonment of war and hereafter.” The will specifically stated that what would come from his house and other possessions was to be used for “elderly people”. On one of his visits to Comrie,  Mr Steinmeyer met and asked the Comrie Development Trust (CDT) — which is based at Cultybraggan Camp —  to manage his legacy. Following his death, a small group made up of George Carson (the son of Heinrich’s friend), a community councillor, a Strathearn Rambler and volunteer CDT board members set up the communications with German solicitors about ensuring that the wishes of the will are fulfilled as Mr Steinmeyer set out. “Executing the will and the sale of property to realise funds for transfer to this country has involved a complex and very lengthy process in Germany, and with the financial transfer to this country,” said Mr Reid. “CDT is still working with the German Solicitors to settle outstanding debts incurred by Heinrich appointing legal advisers. It is too early to establish if further bills will require payment. “However, €457180 (euros) — £384,000 — has been transferred to a special Heinrich Steinmeyer  Legacy Fund, set up by Comrie Development Trust as a separate account.” The trust is now looking for local volunteers as individuals or from groups of older people to make the arrangements for consulting with local people about how the legacy should be used, and then to oversee how it is spent. * For more on this story see Saturday's Courier.

Perth & Kinross

Full-scale alert after woman walks into Blairgowrie police station with jar of cyanide

February 17 2012

Blairgowrie police station was evacuated when a member of the public unintentionally sparked a major chemical incident response. Looking for advice, the woman went into the Ericht Lane office with a sealed container of potentially deadly potassium cyanide on Thursday evening. Tayside Fire and Rescue were alerted to the situation at around 5.45pm and decided to seal and evacuate the building. A major operation swung into action with fire units from Perth, Blairgowrie and Dundee attending the scene. The response was headed by Blairgowrie watch manager Dave Penny, though station manager Kevin Lennon was called in to give specialist advice. It was understood that a woman was clearing out her parents' house when she discovered the substance. ''They were tidying up the house and came upon the jar of a chemical,'' said Mr Lennon. ''They were not sure what to do with it and had taken it into the police. ''Unfortunately it was quite old, possibly 1920s or 30s, and the police were a bit concerned and phoned the fire brigade.'' A full ''hazmat'' hazardous material response was launched but it was quickly ascertained that the jar was intact, there had been no release or spillage of the chemical and it was decided that it would be safe to leave the substance in the police station to await disposal by a specialist company. Mr Lennon added: ''The whole thing was a precaution ... per our policy on chemical incidents. It was very quickly realised that we were not required. The woman did the right thing it was all quite straightforward.'' Similar in appearance to sugar, potassium cyanide is a highly toxic substance which has applications in gold mining and electroplating processes. It was infamously the method of suicide of Nazis Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler during the Nuremburg trials.

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.


Dundee war veterans meet again

April 9 2010

Two Dundee second world war veterans who grew up within yards of each other have been able to swap tales of wartime derring-do after a chance encounter in a Ninewells Hospital ward brought them together for the first time in 70 years. George Watt (90) and David Baillie (85) both grew up in neighbouring streets in Lochee but had not seen each other since Mr Watt was drafted when he was 18. Mr Watt joined the 51st Highland Division. He was a gunner in the 127th artillery. He fought in the regiment's first battle at El Alamein and served throughout the war. Meanwhile, his younger neighbour David Baillie joined the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry, and went on to see action across Europe. After the war both men returned to Dundee but their paths did not cross again until last Sunday, when they were both being treated overnight in Ninewells Hospital for minor conditions. It was then that Mr Baillie realised the patient in the bed opposite him was the red-headed teenager he had seen around Lochee 72 years ago. "He heard the name 'George Watt' and then asked who I was," said Mr Watt on Wednesday. "It was the first time we had met since I was called up before the war. "I didn't know him because I was a few years older but he recognised me and remembered me as a kid with red hair."Lochee ladsThe pair soon worked out that they had been virtual neighbours growing up and were soon swapping recollections of life in Lochee before the war. "We were soon talking about all of our brothers and sisters and how we knew them all," he said. Mr Watt is now recuperating at his home. He and his wife Jessie celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary last September. Mr Baillie was set to be released from Ninewells. Mr Watt's brother David also served during the second world war with The Black Watch. While on guard duty near the end of the war close to Bremerhaven he had an encounter with SS commander Heinrich Himmler. The soldiers stopped a car carrying a high-ranking Nazi official and his driver. While they were trying to ascertain who the senior Nazi figure was believing he must be important to have a chauffeur he asked to go to the toilet. While there he committed suicide by biting on a cyanide capsule. It was only later they discovered the true identity of the man they had stopped.


Black Watch author Tom Renouf the man with Himmler’s watch

April 30 2011

Most old soldiers have the odd memento they brought back home from war some quirky reminder of a brush with death, of comradeship in the face of adversity, of the best of times in the midst of the worst of times. It could be a book, a photo, a letter. Tom Renouf has Heinrich Himmler's watch. "When the war ended, a lot of people just wanted to forget. They did remember their fallen comrades but everything else, well, it was a natural reaction to want to put it behind you. For some, the best way to deal with it was as a closed book and keep it that way. But after a while, especially after finishing my working life, I think the perspective changed and I began to look back and think about what the really important years of my life were, what we were part of and what we did." Tom, only a schoolboy when the war broke out in 1939, received his call-up papers four days after his 18th birthday almost the age his own grandchildren are now. He reported to the Queen's Barracks in Perth, home of the 51st Highland Division. It was a body of men which had already played a vital role and would continue to do so throughout the long push against the advance of the Third Reich, from the huge losses sustained in 1940 at St Valery through to the Battle of Normandy, the Liberation of Holland, the Battle of the Bulge, the crossing of the Rhine and the final bloody struggle in the heart of Germany itself. He and his comrades arrived on the Normandy beaches four days after D-Day, to be met by the sight of the dead, of both sides, who had been killed in the initial attack. "We didn't have time to take it in we just had to get moving and get off the beaches as quickly as possible. But I can still see it the way I saw it then. Of course, there was much more to come but we just had to cope. There was no time to grieve. That came later." Tom and his colleagues went into battle in the front line in June at Rauray Ridge as part of the Normandy Campaign. The viciousness and ferocity of the 12-week battle that followed, including shelling of the Allied trenches, left many casualties. It was also utterly terrifying. "We were scared stiff all the time although, in a strange way, I think the anticipation of battle was the worst thing. It was living under a death sentence, with the fear of losing your life ever present. You knew for certain you would be killed or wounded, you just didn't know when. The casualty rate was tremendously high. "Thanks to our wonderful leadership corporals, sergeants, junior officers, senior men who kept us going by example, we kept on, kept going forward, quite literally into the jaws of death. Many of us made it and survived due to those people rising to the occasion. I don't know how we got through personally religious faith, perhaps, duty, pride. I don't know. We just had to do it. There was no choice." That long and fierce battle was one of the events that made the biggest impression on the young soldier. "At the end when we stood down, when we had achieved our final objective, I think many of us had gone beyond our limits there were men like robots, zombies, wandering around broken. That kind of fighting changed you and changed you very quickly, from young untried lads to fighting soldiers to shattered spirits. For many, it took a long time to recover." Continued... Clearing up remaining pockets of German resistance, Tom himself came under machine gun fire and sustained a serious injury. He survived chiefly because the bullet went through him, missing his spine and ribs by a fraction. He was lucky in other ways, too. His enforced convalescence meant he survived when many of his company were killed in subsequent actions. After the battle for Normandy, Tom reckons the move into the Reich itself and the Battle of the Rhineland is the time he recalls most vividly. At Goch, where there was again the most furious fighting, he remembers the swirling smoke, the burned-out houses and ruins, flames, gunfire, bombardment from both sides and says simply, "It was hell. It was how you thought Dante's Inferno would be. "We crossed the Rhine on March 24 and on March 28, I was 20. By then I wondered if I was going to see my birthday. Then we got too busy to think about it. All the boys were the same." Almost as a sideline to the fighting, he mentions briefly coming across the notorious Belsen concentration camp. "We literally saw men in striped pyjamas inside a huge wire fence but we had no idea what it was until one chap beside me in our truck said, 'It's a concentration camp.' I didn't know what that meant. Nobody did until after the war was over. The chap who told me was Jewish and he had heard stories through his family and friends." Field promotion to corporal and then, in 1945, a commission as lieutenant in The Black Watch was accompanied by the award of the Military Medal for his role in the Rhine crossing. Asked for his most vivid recollections of an unforgettable time, it was Normandy and Goch he lit upon. His own injury and considerable personal achievements didn't rate a mention. As to Himmler's watch, he says that, eventually, it will go to the British Museum. After the war, he notes in the final page of his book, "I felt reborn. And I vowed I would live a proper life from that moment onwards. I would never waste a minute. I would make full use of the time that lay ahead of me." So why the book, and why now? He explains, "It's never been just my story. All veterans could write a book of their own. With time, so much experience is lost, so much that is terribly important and vital and giving people an insight is all we can now do. "There now aren't enough of us to organise any more veterans' reunions but those of us that are left can still tell the story of why these reunions happened and what they meant. We played a little part in huge historical events. "I'm proud to have served in The Black Watch."Black Watch by Tom Renouf is published in hardback by Little Brown.Tom bought it from a fellow soldier for 300 fags after his battalion captured the former Gestapo and SS leader without, at first, realising who he was in May of 1945. And he has it still at his home in the Scottish seaside town of Musselburgh. The broadcaster Edi Stark recently interviewed Tom for her BBC Scotland radio show and said she couldn't bear to touch the watch, it being something that had belonged to one of the most evil and destructive men the world has ever known. Yet it is far from the most important element of Tom Renouf's war. A much stronger and equally long-lasting legacy has been his memories of his time in the army, of the bravery, the fear, the misery and the strength he and his comrades found in themselves and in others. These memories, and Tom's reflections after so many years, are brought together in his new book, Black Watch. Towards the end of his compelling account of his time in the 51st Highland Division, in some of the toughest arenas of world war two, he writes of the Himmler episode: "At the time, we were not particularly interested when we learned the identity of our famous prisoner. And we were even less bothered when we heard of his death. He had it coming, we reckoned. We were much more concerned about the pals we had lost since D-Day." Of course, Tom realised perfectly well then and now that what he and his comrades had lived through were some of the most momentous events of their era of any era. But it would take almost seven decades for him to put his thoughts down on paper and when you read what he has to say, it's hardly surprising. "I always intended to write it down, I just never had the time. Over 20-25 years, after I retired, I was so involved with the Highland Division Veterans Association, its regular gatherings and pilgrimages abroad, its reunions including three in Perth to mark VE Day, El Alamein and the end of the war that my time was completely taken up." It also needed time and distance to put that tale into perspective, to want to tell it. Anyone whose parents, grandparents or relatives served in the war tends to say the same "They never talked about it." Tom Renouf admits he was the same, taking time also to get over nightmares and night terrors that took him back to the battlefield long after he had returned to civilian life. Continued...

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

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

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.

Motoring news

Audi showcases raft of new cars

June 29 2016

Audi threw everything it had at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend, with no fewer than nine upcoming models making their UK debuts. One of the most interesting – and affordable – was the new Q2. Audi’s smallest crossover yet, it’ll sit underneath the Q3, Q5 and big ole Q7. It will be available as a front wheel drive or with Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive system. Under the skin there’s a choice of three TFSI petrol and three TDI diesels, with Audi’s 1.0 litre three-cylinder petrol offering 114bhp, the 1.4 litre four-cylinder sitting below the 187bhp 2,.0 litre TFSI. Diesel options are the 1.6 litre TDI with 114bhp and a pair of 2.0 litre TDIs with 148bhp or 187bhp. It goes on sale later this summer with a starting price expected to be in the region of £20,000. At the other end of the price scale is the R8 V10 Spyder. The 553bhp supercar comes a year after the second generation coupe R8 was released. Audi reckons the new Spyder is 50 per cent stiffer than the last Spyder, and its canvas roof stows beneath a massive rear deck, able to open or close at speeds up to 31mph in 20 seconds. Fuel economy “improves” to just over 24mpg thanks to a new coasting function that idles the engine when it’s not needed. Expect it to cost around £130,000. In between those two extremes are a plethora of other upcoming Audis, including the new S5 Coupe, and the Audi TT RS which first revealed a year ago is hardly new but apparently it had never been seen in the UK before. A couple of Q7s were also at Goodwood, including the Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid, which returns a claimed 156mpg, and the SQ7 – a diesel with 429bhp. There was also the refreshed A3 range. Audi’s upmarket Golf rival has been given a styling refresh along with a few new engine options. Following a trend for downsizing, there’s a 1.0 litre three -cylinder petrol unit, while a powerful 2.0 petrol engine also joins the range.