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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...

Fife

Wave of excitement at plans to make cross-Forth ferry service permanent

May 13 2016

It will be anchors aweigh in Anstruther on Saturday after the operators of a cross-Forth ferry announced plans to make the service permanent. Seafari Adventures operated a month-long trial service between the East Neuk and North Berwick last summer, with hundreds of passengers making the 45-minute journey. Timetabled crossings will begin for the summer as part of a tie-up between the ferry operators and the Scottish Seabird Centre in East Lothian, a move which is also expected to bring a significant boost to tourism in Fife. Colin Aston, managing director of Seafari Adventures, said: “The trial of the Forth Ferry in 2015 was a great success, with lots of demand for the service and really positive feedback. “There were also some really insightful comments from passengers and we have used these to make the Forth Ferry the best that we can.” The voyage between the communities is steeped in history, with pilgrims having journeyed across the Forth to visit the relics of Scotland’s patron saint at St Andrews as far back as 950AD. At its height, some 10,000 pilgrims made the crossing every year. However, unlike those vessels 1,000 years ago, this modern day “Pilgrim’s Ferry” is focusing on boosting tourism on both sides of the river. Tom Brock OBE, chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: “With a long and rich history, this crossing was previously the ‘Pilgrim’s Ferry’ dating back over 1,000 years and used by pilgrims on their way to St Andrews. “It has been wonderful, not only to reinstate this historic route, but to experience a demand for it to continue. “This innovative service will benefit locals, visitors and communities on both sides of the Forth. “In the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design it is great to be able to officially launch the Forth Ferry for 2016 with the first sailing on Saturday. “We have been working in partnership with Fife Council, East Lothian Council, the Scottish Fisheries Museum, East Neuk Tourist Association and North Berwick Business Association on visitor itineraries.”

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

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Answer to Easthaven carving mystery lies in Spain

March 4 2015

An expat sculptor has solved the mystery of a beautiful carving found in an Angus fishing village. Thomas (Tam) Walker, now living in Spain, said the carving was “fashioned by these fair hands of mine” as part of an art college project in Dundee in the 1960s. Mr Walker, a former Carnoustie High art teacher, contacted The Courier after his brother Mike forwarded our article to him and he said the story brightened up his day. The hard-fired terracotta sculpture depicted Robert the Bruce at the Declaration of Arbroath and it was discovered during a village clean-up in Easthaven. An appeal for information was launched after it was found close to the old post road where the pilgrims used to travel between Arbroath Abbey and St Andrews. Easthaven was popular with travellers in the 16th and 17th centuries and artefacts have previously been found there, including pilgrims’ brooches and a 12th-century coin. Residents thought the scuplture might have been of the same vintage but Mr Walker told The Courier it was “far from being of great antiquity.” He said: “By my memory o’ awfy cauld hauns when working on it, I can date it to the winter of 1967/68. “It is made of hard-fired terracotta and any metal therein was added for support and reinforcement. “I gave this panel to someone who asked if they might have it. Who that person was, for the life of me I cannot remember. “How it got to where it was found now that is a mystery.” Mr Walker, who was born in Arbroath, said he lived with his wife for 20 years at Long Row in Easthaven before the couple moved to Spain in 2000. As part of a project for college, Mr Walker made a maquette depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence at the abbey on April 6 1320. He said: “The Easthaven part, which is featured in the article, was an enlarged detail and this depicted Robert the Bruce, having the declaration displayed to him by a clerk while Bernard de Linton stands behind and Douglas stands in front.” Mr Walker said each of these figures was based on some of the people who took part in the 1966 pageant in Arbroath. He said his lecturers at Duncan of Jordanstone sculpture department gave him a lot of encouragement and it was with their good grace that the pieces were fired in the department kilns. A founder member of the Abbey Theatre and Carnoustie HSFP Rugby Club, Mr Walker continues to work in sculpture in a studio in Spain.

Fife

Fife at forefront as Kirk takes new look at pilgrimage

April 13 2017

Fife is at the forefront of new efforts by the Church of Scotland to raise the ancient practice of pilgrimage’s profile across the country. Europe’s most famous pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago in Spain, attracts 250,000 pilgrims annually, up from just a few thousand during the 1970s. The tradition is seeing a massive resurgence in Scotland with six major pilgrimage routes under development and enthusiasm for spiritual journeying rising every year. Last month the National Lottery announced new funding of £399,000 to develop the Fife Pilgrims Way, a 70-mile route that will travel from Culross and South Queensferry to St Andrews. On Easter Sunday, which will mark the 900th Anniversary of St Magnus’ death, a new pilgrimage route in his honour will be launched in Orkney. Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society Council. believes pilgrimages offer a genuine and meaningful spiritual pathway for modern-day Christians. “Worship comes in many forms and pilgrimage is one of them,” Dr Frazer says. “The habits of Sunday morning services, as noble and as good as they are, do not necessarily reach people who have a profound spiritual hunger but have never developed those habits. “People who walk the Camino may not be conventionally religious, but very few who reach Santiago de Compostella would deny the journey there was a spiritual experience. “In a time when the Church is looking for new ways to touch the hearts of all people, pilgrimage is a very powerful tool.” Nick Cooke, secretary of the Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum, said the new Fife route will bring tourism to rural communities that need a boost. “Fife was a huge pilgrimage centre in the Middle Ages and by bringing walkers and cyclists to the middle of Fife this route will help revive some vulnerable rural communities,” he noted. From an idea in Autumn 2015, the St Magnus Way pilgrimage route quickly took on a life of its own. A range of groups have already granted funding to the project, including the European LEADER fund, the Society of the Friends of St Magnus Cathedral, the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, the local community council, Tesco and the Church of Scotland. As well as placing waymarkers along the route, the Orkney Pilgrimage group is developing a phone app which will link to Bluetooth beacons that tell the story of St Magnus and provide background on places to stay or to find refreshment.   The importance of pilgrimage In the first centuries AD Jerusalem and other Biblical sites quickly became a destination for early Christians. Known as the People of the Way, those first Christians were instructed to journey so that they might spread the good news. They obeyed and over centuries the missionary saints became legends. Saints and their exploits became associated with special places: St Columba and Iona; St Ninian and Whithorn; St Cuthbert and Lindisfarne; St Magnus and Orkney; St Mungo and Glasgow; St Andrew and St Andrews. During the Middle Ages when pilgrimage was practised throughout Europe these places became important sites for worshippers. The streets of St Andrews were specially designed to accommodate the crowds of pilgrims who travelled there. But during the Reformation people rebelled against abuses such as selling pardons for sins and making money from supposedly sacred objects like pieces of saints clothing, locks of hair or bones. Reformers viewed pilgrimages as superstitious and discouraged them, and they fell out of favour across Europe for a time. Yet the idea never went away. John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, for example, viewed pilgrimage as a metaphor for the challenges we face on our pathway through life.

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

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.

Rocktalk

Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

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.

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