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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...


Hundreds backing petition to save Menzieshill High School memorial tree

September 30 2015

Hundreds of Dundonians have pledged their support for a threatened memorial tree dedicated to two tragic former Menzieshill High School pupils. The tree was planted outside the school alongside a remembrance plaque in memory of 15-year-old Pamela Tully and fellow pupil Ian McShane. It is at risk of being destroyed when the school closes next year, with Dundee City Council refusing to confirm if it will be saved. The authority has agreed to move the plaque to a new site but has so far failed to make such assurances for the memorial tree. Former classmates of the duo have set up an online petition calling on the council to ring fence the tree. The petition has sparked an immediate response, with 560 signatures being gained in just four days. Pamela’s grateful mother, Isobel Tully, 58, spoke of her hope that the tree could still be saved and thanked her daughter’s classmates for raising awareness of the plight. She said: “It (the petition) was launched last Thursday. which was actually Pamela’s birthday. I had been in tears all day Thursday and Friday because I just didn’t expect that people would really get behind this. “There’s been people from as far afield as Germany, Belgium and even Canada who have signed it and I’m absolutely delighted. “I think the girl that set it up was only aiming for 100 signatures so to get over 500 is fantastic. I’m just so grateful. “A lot of people think it’s just a silly tree but it’s devastating for me and for her schoolmates Pamela was their pal.” Isobel and Pamela’s friends will meet this week to discuss their plans for the future. Among their ideas is the possibility of making a bird table out of the tree if they cannot find another solution. A spokeswoman for Dundee City Council said: “Officers from children and families service have been discussing options directly with Mrs Tully.” Pamela and Ian’s tree was planted following a fundraising campaign by their school friends. Pamela died from a rare form of leukaemia in 1993. Fellow pupil Ian died a year later. The Menzieshill memorial tree petition follows on from a similar fight over a memorial tree in Perth. Perth and Kinross Council came under fire after an ancient pine tree that acted as a tribute to former Perth Academy pupil Callum Owen and his brother Ethan was removed in 2013 to make way for a sports pitch. The brothers were killed in a car crash, along with their mother, in 2009. The Courier revealed in June that Menzieshill High was to close. Pupils and future generations will attend the new Harris Academy.

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.


Dundee teacher wins Children’s Book Award

May 30 2016

A Dundee secondary school teacher has won the prestigious Children’s Book Award 2016. Pamela Butchart, a philosophy teacher at Harris Academy, teamed up with London-based illustrator Thomas Flintham to create My Head Teacher is a Vampire Rat. The duo’s work came top in the 'books for young readers category', shortly before being crowned the overall winner. My Head Teacher Is a Vampire Rat tells the wacky story of a group of kids who decide that their new head teacher is a vampire. He is said to be quite scary, has the blinds down in his office all day and has banned garlic bread at lunch. After winning the award, Pamela was interviewed for national TV and radio channels along with Thomas. Pamela said: "I'm absolutely delighted. "I left Dundee on Friday and have travelled all over the UK for interviews and festivals. "It has been an absolute whirlwind, like a dream - it doesn't feel like real life. "Winning the young readers category was amazing, but when we won the overall award it was a proper squeal. "All the kids I teach have been so supportive and they've been tweeting me to congratulate me. "It's amazing to look at all the famous names on the award, such as J.K Rowling, and think that it has been in their house. "Now it will be in mine, in Dundee!" Reviews have described Pamela’s book as  “fast-paced, irreverent and full of explosive illustration”. The author is sharing the limelight with the likes of J.K. Rowling, who won the Children’s Book Award in 1997 for her first Harry Potter novel. https://twitter.com/Pamela_Butchart/status/736623682089521152     https://twitter.com/Pamela_Butchart/status/736622175919181824


‘Are we having a fish funeral?’ Reaction to Dundee woman’s cheese mishap is off the scale

December 30 2015

A Dundee woman has become an internet sensation after publishing text messages detailing a drunken prank which killed her brother’s pet. Taylor Hagan, 20, shared text messages between her and her mum online which revealed details of an incident involving Dairylea cheese and her brother’s goldfish. The messages show that the 20-year-old fed her brother’s fish a piece of cheese after coming home from a night out. She was later contacted by her furious mother informing her that the fish had subsequently died. In a post titled, “I’m a really bad person”, Taylor then shared screen shots of the conversation online, where it has now been shared more than 1,100 times and gained more than 8,000 likes. The messages were also posted by Facebook page, the Lad Bible, leading to Taylor receiving heavy criticism from disgusted Facebook users. During the heated exchanges Taylor’s mum informed her daughter that her brother, Jamie, had woken to find his fish dead. She said: “Your brother now has one dead fish, things like this just aren’t funny, Taylor. You can’t be giving a fish cheese. “I’m glad you’re finding this funny because no-one else is.” Responding to the message, Taylor told her mum: “Jamie was awake and said they needed fed. I was eating a Dairylea slice so thought I would share.” She then asks her baffled parent: “Are we having a fish funeral?” After promising to buy her sibling a replacement fish the 20-year-old finishes by joking that she would only feed fish cheddar cheese in the future. After her post went viral Taylor tweeted that she was now going to take the post down due to the volume of responses she was receiving. Speaking after their conversation went viral, Taylor’s mum, who asked not to be named, said: “We didn’t expect this reaction. “It was just a bit of cheese that Taylor gave to the fish and I’m not sure if the fish choked, but I think it was on its way out anyway.” Taylor’s prank has received a mixed response online, with some calling it “banter” and others branding her a “disgrace” and “immature.” In response to the incident, Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “We are not aware of the specific details of this situation. “Fish should only ever be fed food which they are able to digest and is healthy for them. Ideally always by the person responsible for their care.”

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

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


Dundee mum with ‘heart of gold’ loses her battle with cancer

October 22 2015

A 37-year-old Dundee mum has lost her battle with cancer. Pamela Barbour, a dinner lady at Longhaugh Primary School, died on Monday at Roxburghe House, surrounded by her loving family. She had battled stomach cancer for nearly two years. When Pamela’s condition deteriorated, a holiday to Greece with her partner had to be cancelled. Ari Khalil had planned to ask his beloved partner of 10 years to marry him while they holidayed but Pamela had to be admitted into Ninewells Hospital’s cancer unit. Working at the school up until four months ago, Pamela also looked after her three children Tommy, 17, Jodie, 16, and seven-year-old Katie-B. Ari, 28, said: “We were going to go on holiday and I was going to ask her to marry me, but she was too unwell to go. “For 10 years I have had such an amazing time with her she was so strong.” Tommy paid tribute to his mum, saying: “She had such a big heart and would always put us first. “Everyone always said hello to her when she walked past everybody knew her.” Her dad, John Barbour, spoke of his “caring” daughter. “She had a heart of gold and would do anything and everything for anybody who needed help,” he said. “Pamela was always such a loving, caring person and even when she was diagnosed with stomach cancer, she still put everyone before herself. “She died very peacefully with her family around her and still, she was making sure everyone else was all right.” Her mother Catherine, 58, said: “Pamela would always have a smile on her face she was the light of any party and could talk to anybody.”


Newspaper archive contains answer to Dundee tank mystery

January 8 2015

The mystery surrounding a tank gifted to Dundee at the end of the First World War has been solved, thanks to a chance find in a newspaper archive. Perthshire historian Mike Taylor had been trying for years to find out the history of the Mk IV fighting machine, without success. The vehicle was one of dozens gifted to communities across the country at the end of the conflict to thank them for raising money for the National War Savings Appeals. Many were scrapped several years later, and today only one remains at Ashford, Kent. The Dundee tank arrived in the city in August 1919 and was towed to Dudhope Park, where it remained until it was scrapped in 1930. Its battlefield past was lost until Mr Taylor found a key piece of evidence in a contemporary article in the Evening Telegraph. Mr Taylor said: “Nothing was known of the tank’s wartime history, but I found an old article about the tank’s arrival that mentions its serial number the key to unlocking its history. “With the serial number it was possible for tank historian Gwyn Evans to trace its history in the records. The tank was one of only 50 built in Scotland by the Glasgow firm of Mirrlees Watson. “In 1917, as part of D battalion of the Tank Corps, it was commanded by a Second Lieutenant J McNiven and was knocked out by a direct hit at the battle of Cambrai on November 20 during the attack by the 51st (Highland) Division on the village of Flesquieres.” Anyone with more photographs of the tank can contact Mr Taylor via The Courier on 01382 575862.

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.