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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 looks to strengthen links with German twin town

April 18 2013

The Provost of Perth and Kinross will visit one of Perth’s twin towns in June as part of a historic link that began in the aftermath of the Second World War. Following the cessation of hostilities, France, Germany and the UK were all keen to establish twinning links and that led to Perth’s association with Aschaffenburg, in Bavaria, Germany. Members of Perth and Kinross Council’s provost’s sub-committee of the strategic policy and resources committee heard that Provost Liz Grant and a delegation from the council will travel to Aschaffenburg in June to try to establish pupil exchange visits and to attend the opening of the town’s annual folk festival, which will be its 86th. Numerous visits have taken place each year between the Friends Organisations in Perth and Kinross and Aschaffenburg since the pair first became twinned in 1956. The committee heard that the purpose in establishing the pupil exchange visits would be to give young people an insight into a “different culture,” broadening their understanding and encouraging them to be strong European citizens and ambassadors. Council members also heard that it is hoped the visits will create enthusiasm among the younger generation for the twinning relationship between Aschaffenburg and Perth. Provost Grant will travel to the German town along with Bernadette Malone, chief executive of Perth and Kinross Council, depute provost Councillor Bob Band, the convener of the council’s lifelong learning committee, the head teacher of Perth High School and a teacher from Perth Academy. Provost Grant told the committee that she had received a formal invitation to go to Aschaffenburg and highlighted the background to the twinning. “The twinning was established after the Second World War to repair a lot of the damage done by the war,” she said. “I know the twinning with Perth is highly regarded and valued by Aschaffenburg. Many people from there visit Perth in their own time.” Provost Grant said there will be a “full itinerary” and that the council delegation visiting the Bavarian town will be the “public face” of Perth and Kinross. Councillor Willie Wilson told committee members that the trip to Aschaffenburg could be “perceived” as a “jolly”, but assured councillors that it was not. “On trips like this you are representing your town and country and are often out from 7am to late at night,” he commented. “These trips are very enjoyable, but are tiring. You have to use your mettle all the time,” he went on. “I feel these trips provide value for money the amount of visitors that travel back and forth from Aschaffenburg is substantial. We have possibly got our money’s worth in terms of trade and tourism.” The strong links were emphasised last year when a contingent of serving and retired firefighters from Perth travelled to Aschaffenburg to commemorate 150 years of firefighting. The Perth fire crew formed part of a large parade, involving more than 200 firefighters from the German city and Aschaffenburg’s other twin cities of St Germain-en-Laye. in France, and Miskolc, in Hungary. Perth’s twinning links around the world were highlighted last year as part of the diamond jubilee celebrations, with carved crests of twin towns Aschaffenburg, Pskov in Russia, Bydgoszcz in Poland and Perth, Ontario in Canada being made. This followed on from a crest being made in 2011 of Cognac in France.

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.

Perth & Kinross

Musical celebration of twinning links

September 30 2016

Perth’s historic St John's Kirk will be filled with the voices of dozens of youngsters from the twin cities of Aschaffenburg and Perth on Saturday. Nearly 90 children will sing in celebration of 60 years of the twinning. The concert is the result of a collaboration between The Stiftsbasilika, Aschaffenburg, and Craigclowan Preparatory School, Perth, but behind the event lies the story of two youthful pen pals. Some 45 years ago a 15-year-old Icelandic boy named Astmar Olafsson and a 13-year-old German girl, Gisela Fitz, started to correspond as penfriends. The correspondence lasted many years and a firm friendship was formed and they finally met in London in 1979 for the first time. As time passed they both got married and had families in their respective countries and letter writing became less frequent as their lives became busy with children and careers. Astmar moved from Iceland to Perth in 1993 Gisela girl married a businessman in Aschaffenburg and raised four children. Contact became infrequent and letters and postcards from Germany remained unanswered until a postcard arrived from Perth, but with no returning address. The girl, now Gisela Lang, did not know how to contact her Icelandic friend but assisted by her husband Theo, she approached the Twinning Association of Perth/Aschaffenburg. Correspondence started again and it was discovered that the children of both families were involved in music-making, in Germany with the Kinderchor of the Stiftsbasilika, Aschaffenburg, while Mr Olafsson’s children were singing in his own choir as he was now director of music at Craigclowan Preparatory School. Due to the friendship of the two families cultural exchanges between the two institutions have flourished and now the children from Germany, hosted by the families of the choristers in the Craigclowan Concert Choir, will perform in St John´s Kirk on Saturday at 5pm. Admission is free and all are welcome. “I am very much looking forward to seeing dear old friends when the Aschaffenburg choristers return to Craigclowan and to new friendships being forged," said Mr Olafsson. "I hope as many people as possible will come along to the concert in St John’s Kirk on Saturday for the celebration of music making between our two cities.”

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

Perth & Kinross

Councillors asked to approve spending on provost’s trip to German twin town

September 12 2011

Councillors are being asked to approve a trip by Provost John Hulbert to Perth's German twin town, Aschaffenburg. Mr Hulbert has been invited by Klaus Herzog, mayor of the Bavarian town, to take part in the reopening of Aschaffenburg Theatre next month. During his visit, he will also participate in a tourism fair, from October 28 to 30, with other twin cities, St Germain in France and Miskolc in Hungary. The trip has to be ratified by the council's provost's sub-committee on Wednesday. Mr Hulbert will be accompanied by a council official and their flights will be paid by the council. The lady provost, Sara Hulbert, will also go but will pay for her own flight. Aschaffenburg will meet the party's accommodation and travel costs during the visit. With civic gifts worth £205 to present to the town on their arrival, the total cost to the council of the group's trip will be £605. Two other council officials the head of planning and regeneration and the marketing officer will be at the trade fair, with their costs met by the council. Perth and Kinross Council's close connection with Aschaffenburg dates to 1956.

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.

Perth & Kinross

750th anniversary of the Treaty of Perth

August 19 2016

Perth will turn back the clock this weekend to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the Treaty of Perth. The Treaty was signed on July 2, 1266 by Magnus VI of Norway and King Alexander III of Scotland at the Blackfriars monastery on the northern edge of the city It marked the end of conflict between Scotland and Norway over the sovereignty of the Hebrides and the Isle of Man. It saw the King of Norway cede the Western Isles and the Isle of Man to the Scottish Crown and brought about 750 years of peace between the two nations. Sunday’s special family day will celebrate both Norse and Scots culture through music, art, storytelling, re-enactments and displays. Proceedings will get under way at 11am with local bands leading a spectacular parade from the South Inch, along Tay Street, to the North Inch. The local Perth and District Pipe Band will be joined by others including members of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. This will culminate in a mini-tattoo offering a 50-minute sample of the internationally-renowned pageant. A variety of medieval fayre acts will then follow in Perth city centre. One of the highlights will be Clanadonia – regular performers on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow - who will be out in force along the streets of Perth entertaining the masses with their passionate, and hairy, sound of Scotland. Birlinn Jiarg will also be performing with its combination of whistle, concertina, clarinet, flute, guitar and bouzouki playing. . The quartet was brought together by multi-instrumentalist Beccy Hurst to perform the traditional Manx music she grew up with as well as her own compositions. Family activities will include an interactive pigment paints exhibition which will create a large 12th century-style painting on the day. Wordsmith Crafts, together with the Cluaran heritage boat project, will be demonstrating historical blacksmithing skills and provide an opportunity to experience the wonder of a 6 metre clinker build wooden boat. Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre will also be joining in the fun with a mini petting zoo of local wildlife and farm animals. The living history group Medieval Methil will give a taste of history through education, display and experimental archaeology, whilst the Knights of Monymusk will bring history to life with its demonstration of skills using weapons, armour, musical instruments and much more from the 10th-13th centuries. Events this weekend will also mark the 60th anniversary of Perth’s twinning with Aschaffenburg, Germany;  25 years twinning with Cognac, France and Pskov, Russia and 15 years twinning with Perth, Ontario, Canada. Perth provost Liz Grant said she was “absolutely thrilled” the city was hosting this prestigious event. It is hoped the tattoo will help strengthen Perth’s bid for City of Culture status, which is being formally launched today. *Treaty of Perth celebrations - North Inch/South Inch.Perth city centre www.perthcity.co.uk


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.