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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...

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


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.

Angus & The Mearns

Gingerbread tribute to the Wee Red Town

October 14 2013

When Libby Jones was invited by Bank Street Gallery owner Susie Clark to exhibit at her gallery in Kirriemuir, she became intrigued by the history of the town. As well as Kirriemuir’s most famous son and Peter Pan author JM Barrie, she discovered the town had also been home for a time to AC/DC singer Bon Scott, Victorian mountaineer Hugh Munro, and 19th century writer Violet Jacob. She found the town had been a hotbed of witchcraft in the 16th century and is also world famous for its gingerbread and decided to combine all these elements. Ms Jones went on to craft a boxed set of prints, which also doubles as a card game. She said: “This tongue-in-cheek edition of 10 boxes, of 20 cards per box, features Kirriemuir characters presented on a slice of gingerbread on a plate. I have also made a poster featuring all the 10 characters in the game.” Visitors can see images of Edinburgh Castle with fireworks, wildlife such as gannets, and artwork made after a visit to Antarctica. Londoner and master printmaker Ms Jones exhibited work from her sub-zero stay at a Discovery Point exhibition in Dundee last year. Children can see her work Cooking the Climate, a comment on global warming, which consists of a microwave oven and slideshow with rotating polar animals. There is also a fossilised mobile phone in a second installation, Fossils of the Anthropocene an exploration of the traces that might remain of civilisation in 50 million years’ time. She is also exhibiting a selection of her woodcuts, linocuts, collagraphs and screenprints at the gallery. The exhibition runs until November 8 and opening hours can be found on www.bankstreetgallery.org, or by telephoning 01575 570070.

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

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.


Glenrothes maintain challenge with derby victory

March 28 2016

Glenrothes maintained their title challenge in BT Caledonia Division One after an 8-5 win at home to Dunfermline. Ross Anderson had a try for the hosts and Calum Allardice dotted down for the visitors as the sides reached the break at 5-5 after an error-strewn opening 40 minutes. The teams continued to cancel each other out in the second period, and it took a penalty by Shaun Gray to earn the victory for the hosts. Carnoustie moved out of the bottom two with a 48-5 win at home to basement side Hillfoots. Tom Hall and Jordan Donnachie had two tries apiece and there was one each for Anthony Franco, Mark McQueen and Dani Van Wyk, as well as a penalty try, while McQueen had four conversions. Strathmore lost 22-0 on their trip to leaders Gordonians. The top two sides in Division Two (Midlands) had big wins as they build towards an April 9 showdown. Harris Academy eased to a 70-0 win over Kinross at Elliot Road. The hosts ran in 12 tries. Mike Devlin and Marc Wilson each had doubles, while a penalty try plus four conversions from Craig Wallace saw Harris into a 33-0 interval lead. The second period brought touchdowns for Joe Abbott, Kevin Gibb, Mike McDonald, Chaz Quin, Andy Wallace, Stewart Walker, and Adam Wood. Wallace landed a conversion. Harris remain five points clear of Alloa, who have two games in hand. The Earlsfield men saw off Panmure 85-3. Matt Pope bagged the opening try in the first minute. Twelve others followed, with Lee Cairney claiming four touchdowns and 10 conversions. Daniel Murrell, Matt Pope and skipper Gary Taylor bagged a brace, and Alan Keir, Andrew McTaggart and Ross Brydie scored one apiece. Alloa’s next assignment is a trip to Grangemouth Stags, who bowed out of the BT National Bowl, going down 14-3 away to Millbrae in their semi-final. Blairgowrie will play in Division Three next season after their relegation was confirmed by a 26-6 defeat away to Kirkcaldy seconds. Falkirk seconds extended their lead in Division Three (Midlands) with a 105-0 win over Bo’ness. Crieff and Strathearn remain the nearest challengers after returning from Anstruther with a 24-6 win against Waid. Third-placed Dundee University Medics won 29-5 at Perthshire seconds. Fife Southern won 29-0 against Glenrothes Development XV.


Clean bill of health for beaches after Pettycur recovers from unexplained test failure

July 26 2011

Bathers looking to take a cooling seaside dip this summer can do so safe in the knowledge that the water quality meets acceptable standards despite an unexplained test failure in Fife last month. Results in relation to bathing water quality across Fife and Tayside reveal most of the area's beaches are clean and the water is safe to swim in, following regular inspections conducted by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). But experts have been left baffled by the result of a test at Kinghorn's Pettycur beach last month which showed the number of bacteria recorded in a sample was higher than the level permitted. Subsequent tests showed the water quality has since returned to normal but scientists at SEPA have been left scratching their heads at the June 13 sample which showed there were 3400 faecal coliforms in 100ml of water tested much more than the 2000 limit considered safe. A SEPA spokesman confirmed the water at Pettycur beach had passed further tests on June 16, June 21, June 28, July 4, July 9, July 12 and July 15, meaning the reason for the earlier failure remains unexplained. "Joint investigations between SEPA and Scottish Water did not reveal any asset point source which would account for this exceedance," SEPA stated. "There are not considered to be any farms or agricultural activities in the locality which would result in contaminated run-off affecting the bathing water. "As the water quality returned to the expected excellent standard three days later at this site it can be considered that the pollution event has passed, although unfortunately the cause is likely to remain unknown." Samples are taken at each location throughout the bathing season, which runs from June 1 to September, while a pre-season sample is also taken during the last fortnight in May. As well as Pettycur, samples have been taken at Aberdour Harbour, Aberdour Silver Sands, Anstruther Billow Ness, Arbroath West Links, Broughty Ferry, Burntisland, Carnoustie, Crail Roome Bay, Elie Harbour and Earlsferry, Elie Ruby Bay, Kinghorn Harbour, Kingsbarns, Kirkcaldy Seafield, Leven, Lunan Bay, Monifieth, Montrose, St Andrews West Sands, St Andrews East Sands and Tentsmuir Sands. The news on the water quality front so far this summer season is positive compared to the problems many resorts had last year when several beaches failed a number of tests. Unusually high seas and strong winds were blamed for beaches failing to reach mandatory minimum standards required last summer, with Elie and Earlsferry, for example, falling short for the first time in its history. Water quality is deemed hugely important in terms of the national Blue Flag award scheme, which aims to highlight the country's best beaches and can often be a big boost to visitor numbers.

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

Readers' letters

What a price we pay for “democracy”

October 23 2014

Sir, It is not every Tuesday that some of us find ourselves in agreement with every word written by Jim Crumley, but this week he excelled in his article. The ruination of much of Britain, in particular Scotland, is quite appalling and his thin-edge-of-the-wedge argument over the ruination of Beauly is quite correct. Once the power line was allowed, against enormous opposition and a considerable number of accurate prophecies that this was only the beginning, we were doomed. Any sentient person is aware that Britain is going to run out of steam. The blatant refusal to think two decades ahead indicates the fatuousness of most political leaders. In the field of energy it will lead to disaster. The love of selling off the family silver to anybody, as long as they dwell and pay taxes abroad, has already wreaked irreparable damage to our economy. When any opposition to public vandalism is allowed to be heard, then it is dismissed as nimbyism. This is grossly unfair as the objections, all over Britain, are often very soundly based. When a local council dares to suggest the objectors may have a point and proceed to refuse planning applications it is almost invariably overruled by unelected officials in London or Edinburgh. What a price we pay for “democracy”! We have all the fuels for not only being self-sufficient in energy but having the ability to export it. The trouble is that the energy in question is carbon-based, but any exploration of this is thought by many to be even worse than questioning immigration policy. However, the technology is available, not only to use the carbon fuels but also to extract the toxics that are more than a potential worry. Oil companies ally with power suppliers to deny this. The Greens and other do-gooders loudly applaud from the sides. Again, the majority of us, who are not terribly rich, subsidise, through our taxes, the very, very rich, both at home and abroad. The current popularity of the SNP would suggest that whichever way we might have voted in the referendum most of us in Scotland are in one mind on the subject of preserving our heritage. Oh that a little sense and independent thinking might be found in more of our politicians. Robert Lightband. Clepington Court, Dundee. Looks like case of double standards Sir, What a difference a few months make. Last summer, Jose Manuel Barroso, the outgoing president of the European Commission, was hailed by unionists as the authoritative voice on an independent Scotland’s position in the EU. His word was gospel and unionists were quick to cite his opposition to an indepen-dent Scotland’s EU member-ship, as the final word. Fast forward a few months and Mr Barroso is now Johnny Foreigner, a jumped-up EU bureaucrat sticking his nose in the UK’s affairs. Unionists had the bare- faced cheek to cry fear and uncertainty over an indepen-dent Scotland, and now not a cheep from them over the uncertainty of the UK’s EU membership and all the risks to jobs and trade it will entail. Double standards springs to mind. RMF Brown. Markinch, Fife. It’s just money down the drain Sir, The SNP-dominated Scottish Government bought Prestwick Airport for £1 to save it from closure and pledged to invest £10 million into the airport, despite the previous owners losing £7 million a year. It is telling that no other companies were interested in buying it. In June, Nicola Sturgeon, then Deputy First Minister, announced a £7 million investment for repairs and improvements. Now Prestwick Airport is to be “loaned” another £10 million. Wait a minute, “loaned”, but the taxpayers already own this airport so when the plug is pulled then it is taxpayers’ money down the drain. Passenger flights at Prestwick Airport are as few as one a day so the airport has no future. By comparison the highly successful Glasgow Airport has 100 flights a day. I trust no more money will be ploughed into this politically motivated “white elephant”. The Prestwick Airport slogan “pure dead brilliant” was one-third correct the middle word. Clark Cross. 138 Springfield Road, Linlithgow. Nicola to head for Scone? Sir, Does the news that Nicola Sturgeon is to be endorsed as Alex Salmond’s successor at the SNP conference in Perth next month mean she will be nipping up the road to Scone to be crowned Queen Nicola? Robert T Smith. 30 Braeside Terrace, Aberdeen. Off the agenda? Oh really! Sir, In his letter, Time to face reality (Monday October 20), Dr John Cameron is being very presumptuous in suggesting “independence is off the agenda”. Presumably Dr Cameron was able to read the excellent accompanying letter from Ken Clark relating to last week’s Westminster debate on further powers for Scotland and suggesting that Scotland has perhaps been sold a “pig in a poke” by Messrs Brown et al. Whilst it is still early days, there is a groundswell of opinion suggesting that Westminster better deliver on its promises, in a realistic timescale, without conditions. If not, many who were borderline “no” voters, plus those who were persuaded by the late promises of more autonomy, may well become very disillusioned and start beating the drum again. As Tommy Sheridan said in his post referendum interview on BBC News: “The powerless realised they have power, we ain’t going back into the box.” Notwithstanding Mr Sheridan’s politics, his underlying sentiment will have struck a chord with many and those charged with delivering on their promises for the country should take note. Dr Cameron says: “It is time to face reality that independence is off the agenda.” Oh really! Keith Richardson. Melgund Burn, Aberlemno. Bags not the only problem Sir, Yes, one has to agree that plastic bags are a problem, but in the bigger picture just a “drop in the ocean”. When you look at the litter pollution problem where do they rate? When I cycle around the country roads there are more empty juice bottles, discarded coke tins, fag packets etc than plastic bags. Once again the establish-ment/politicians/do-gooders have come up with this “plastic bag drivel” and people are following like lambs to the slaughter and no doubt all giving praise and claiming to be nice people as they roll along in their carbon-fuel-guzzling pollution machines. Roy McIntosh. 9 Bankwell Road, Anstruther. The beach was left spotless Sir, An article and photograph in Monday’s Courier described the work of volunteers cleaning litter from the St Andrews beaches part of a UK-wide campaign to address this growing problem. I applaud the work done but I am saddened and appalled at the need for it. I holidayed recently at a French seaside resort with over a mile of sandy beaches. On Sunday the beach was packed with family picnickers etc. We did notice provision of showers, toilets and bins but in the evening expected to find the beach covered with litter and over- flowing bins. The beach and esplanade were spotless. Bins were full but covered and not spilling out. We found that people meticulously “binned” all their litter and cleaned up promptly after the many dogs exercised on the prom. What is wrong with people here that they can’t do likewise? Elizabeth Picton. 76 Hepburn Gardens, St Andrews.