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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

Clansmen and women head home to Scottish roots

February 18 2017

Members of an ancient clan whose ancestral  lands lay in Glenshee and Glenisla will be heading from around the world this summer for a gathering in Perthshire. This year the clan MacThomas members have also been invited to take in a performance of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, marching on to the castle esplanade wearing the clan tartan. Following their appearance at the tattoo on August 24,  the clan gathering will be staged in Pitlochry and Glenshee from August 25 to 28. Events will include a tour of the clan territory, genealogy research, attendance at the Strathardle Highland Games in Kirkmichael, and a clan dinner in the presence of the 19th chief, Andrew MacThomas of Finegand, in Pitlochry. There will also be a ceremony held at Clach na Coileach in Glenshee, battle re-enactments in both Glenshee and Glenisla and a ceilidh. Mary Grundberg (nee Thoms), the clan's European secretary, said: "The gathering is always a memorable get together with clansfolk coming from all over the world. “This year will be extra special with the opportunity of taking part in the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo.” According to the society’s research Tomaidh Mor “Great Tommy”, from whom the clan takes its name, lived in the 15th century in Glenshee. To the government in Edinburgh they were recognised as a separate clan and known as MacThomases. The 7th chief extended the clan's land into Glen Begg,  Prosen and Strathardle and he purchased the Barony of Forter in Glenisla. Cromwell won the 7th chief's admiration but this soured his relationship with the neighbouring clans and on the restoration of Charles II in 1660, he found himself in trouble with parliament, who fined him heavily. The fine, a feud and a cripling law suit that followed ruined the MacThomases, and following the 7th chief's death, his sons were forced to sell their lands and the clan started to drift apart with some taking the names McCombie, McComb and McCombe as well as the anglicised forms Thom, Thoms, Thomas and Thomson. The Clan MacThomas Society was founded in 1954 and information on the tattoo appearance and the gathering is available at  www.clanmacthomas.com.

UK & World

US House Speaker Paul Ryan will not seek re-election

April 11 2018

US House Speaker Paul Ryan will not run for re-election, his office has announced, injecting another layer of uncertainty as Republicans face worries over losing their majority in the autumn.Republican Mr Ryan’s plans have been the source of much speculation and will set off a scramble among his lieutenants to take the helm. A self-styled budget guru, Mr Ryan had made tax cuts a centrepiece of his legislative agenda and a personal cause, and Congress delivered on that late last year.Mr Ryan, 48, announced his plans at a closed-door meeting of House Republicans on Wednesday morning.“After nearly 20 years in the House, the Speaker is proud of all that has been accomplished and is ready to devote more of his time to being a husband and a father,” Ryan adviser Brendan Buck said in a statement. “While he did not seek the position, he told his colleagues that serving as Speaker has been the professional honour of his life, and he thanked them for the trust they placed in him.”Mr Ryan will serve out his term and retire in January, Mr Buck said.Mr Ryan, a Republican from Janesville, Wisconsin, was first elected to Congress in 1998. Along with Representatives Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy, he branded himself a rising “young gun” in an ageing party.He became Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012.Mr Ryan was pulled into the leadership job by the abrupt retirement of House Speaker John Boehner in 2015. Mr Boehner had struggled to wrangle the chamber’s restless conservative wing and failed to seal big-picture deals on fiscal policy he sought. Mr Ryan had more trust with the hardliners in the House, but had no more success in brokering fundamental reform of entitlement he sought.He ultimately had to wrestle with another unexpected challenge: President Donald Trump, a president with little of Mr Ryan’s interest in policy detail or ideological purity. The two have had not had a close working relationship.House Majority Leader McCarthy, a Republican from California known to be closer to Mr Trump, is expected to seek the Speaker post. He will probably compete with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, of Louisiana, for the job. Both men spoke at the closed-door meeting on Wednesday, delivering tributes to Mr Ryan.In Wisconsin, the most likely Republican candidate is state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, multiple Republicans in the state said. Another Republican mentioned as a potential candidate is longtime Ryan family friend and Ryan backer Bryan Steil, a lawyer and member of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents. Democrat Randy Bryce, a colourful ironworker who has cultivated an IronStache moniker, had been Mr Ryan’s best-known challenger, drawing liberal support from around the country. He had nearly 2.3 million dollars in the bank at the end of the first quarter. Janesville teacher Cathy Myers was also running on the Democratic side. The only declared Republican was Paul Nehlen, who was banned from Twitter for a series of posts criticised as racist or anti-Semitic.

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.


Dunfermline star Norrie McCathie’s death still serves as warning of ‘silent killer’

October 22 2015

The death of a Dunfermline Athletic footballer should continue to serve as a warning over the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, a fellow club legend has said. Pars captain Norrie McCathie was found dead in his home on the outskirts of the town in January 1996. The 34-year-old was found alongside his girlfriend Amanda Burns, 26, after the small cottage they were sleeping in was filled with the poisonous gas. The accident prompted huge outpourings of grief and thrust the dangers of the “silent killer” into the public eye. Following a recent survey which suggests one in 10 Scottish adults has suffered the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, Jim Leishman, McCathie’s former manager at East End Park, said the dangers of the gas are just as relevant today. “It was a tragedy and it was one of those things that could have been avoided,” Mr Leishman told The Courier. “Norrie was a club legend but it was also about two young people losing their lives. “It affected so many people. “Everybody at the club felt it but nobody more so than Norrie’s family. “I will always remember that day.” With no taste or smell, detecting carbon monoxide in the home is difficult and results in around 40 deaths a year. Symptoms of poisoning include dizziness and nausea, as well as vomiting and tiredness. Poisoning is often linked to faulty household appliances such as cookers, boilers and heaters. This latest research, conducted by Dunfermline-based Corgi HomePlan, took in a sample of 2,000 properties. The company’s study states that 58% of UK homes will not have a serviced boiler this winter, a simple process that could detect a faulty appliance. Corgi HomePlan director Kevin Treanor said: “Exposure, even at a low level, can lead to life-changing health problems, including brain damage, memory loss and depression. “Regular servicing of all gas appliances and installing a carbon monoxide alarm will vastly increase the safety and protection of UK homes.”

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


Manhunt after ‘deplorable’ attacks on visitors to Dundee

January 7 2013

GOOD SAMARITANS who rushed to the aid of a pensioner when a “deplorable” thug tried to snatch her handbag in Dundee city centre have been praised by police. Officers started a manhunt after he left the 72-year-old from Fife with a leg injury and in distress after he struck on Saturday afternoon in the Cowgate area of the city. The man is also believed to have stolen money from a 37-year-old woman in nearby Candle Lane less than an hour earlier. The police said both victims had been visiting Dundee and that the incidents were “unusual, but concerning”. Chief Inspector Cathy McDonald said: “It is pretty deplorable that two visitors to the city on the same day are exposed to this sort of aggression. “This is unusual but concerning and we are doing all we can to get the person responsible. “Members of the public have intervened in the incident with the elderly lady. The male and female saw what happened and yelled at the guy and he ran off. They have probably saved her from a more serious attack. “They took care of her and handed her over to the care of some shop assistants. We are looking for the couple who intervened to come forward.” The pensioner twisted her leg during the attempted robbery, which happened between 4.30pm and 5pm on Saturday, when the man approached her from behind. In the other incident, the 37-year-old, who was staying at a city centre hotel, was robbed at 4pm at Candle Lane near its junction with Allan Lane. The man demanded that she hand over money to him and he made off with a small quantity of cash. Police said the woman was left “shaken and distressed”. The man involved in both incidents is said to be approximately 5ft 5in and was wearing dark clothing. In the robbery, he is described as 25 to 30 years old and was wearing a black tammy and black fleece. The man in the bag snatch incident is described as 19 to 20 years old, wearing a dark top, which was hooded or was possibly a balaclava. Despite the discrepancy in age, it is understood that police are hunting one suspect. Ms McDonald said: “We are keeping an open mind, but it would be wrong not to look at the incidents in conjunction with each other as it isn’t something that happens every day. The timings are close together, in the same area of the town, and the height described is the same. “We would also encourage people to take simple crime prevention advice and if they are concerned to approach any police officer.” Officers are reviewing CCTV footage and will continue door-to-door inquiries today. Anyone who witnessed either incident or who has any information can contact the police on 0300 111 2222. gogston@thecourier.co.uk

Perth & Kinross

Changes to Perth care homes proposal

February 22 2013

Significant changes could be made to ambitious plans for a multi-million-pound “urban care community” on the banks of the River Tay. A proposal of application notice has been submitted by Balhousie Care Group for the former Tayside Nursing Home on Perth’s Isla Road. The firm had been given approval this year to build two 60-bed buildings, a training and administration centre, assisted living units and three mainstream houses. It now intends to alter these plans, however, in a bid to “enhance the mix of care and accommodation available”. One of the care homes will be replaced with retirement apartments that are specifically designed for pensioners. Balhousie Care Group has formed a partnership with retirement developer McCarthy and Stone to create the alternative housing. These will include a mixture of one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as shared facilities, landscaping, guest accommodation and 24-hour security. Property director of Balhousie Care Group Scott Whittet said: “This amended proposal will significantly increase the range of care and housing options available for older people in Perth. “Despite the current financial climate, we still plan to develop a 60-bed care home and 11 assisted living apartments at this site and McCarthy and Stone’s development will complement these plans.” Over the next two months both firms will hold a series of consultation meetings and a public exhibition on the proposals. Steve Wiseman, managing director of McCarthy and Stone, said: “Our Later Living developments offer the independence of retaining home ownership while living in an apartment specifically designed for later life. “While this is an amendment to a previously-approved planning application, we’re committed to engaging with the local community. “In the coming months, we will be contacting local community members, including local councillors, MSPs and the community council, as well as residents, to let people from across the local area see our plans and give us their feedback.” It is hoped that, if these latest plans are approved, around 150 jobs could be created in Perth, as well as rejuvenating a site that has long been an eyesore. Over the last few days, contractors have been taking steps to demolish the existing building, which is known to many residents as the offices of the insurance company General Accident, before being converted into the Tayside Nursing Home in 1997. The home closed at the end of 2009 following a negative Care Commission report.

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.