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...
Poignant reminders of glories past and lives lost adorn every wall and fill every cabinet in Balhousie Castle. Over more than 300 years The Black Watch has carved out a reputation as one of the world’s finest fighting forces, earning honours in conflicts and theatres of war around the globe. As far back as 1745 then known as the 43rd Regiment of Foot the regiment saw action against the French at the First Battle of Fontenoy. Since then, in the Americas, West Indies, India, Crimea and South Africa in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, during the war in Europe and, most recently, in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands have made the final sacrifice in its colours. Those behind the £3.5 million rejuvenation of the regiment’s spiritual home hope there will be many thousands keen to hear their gallant story. And with more than 400 passing the Black Watch Muesum’s doors as it opened to the public for the first time in 12 months on Tuesday those hopes appear set to be met. Arriving just seconds after 9.30am were Denis and Esther Platt from Eccles in Salford, who were given a warm welcome by Black Watch Museum Trust chief executive Alfie Iannetta. Mr Iannetta admitted he was stunned by the response and is already considering new staff for the attraction. “All I ever wanted was to see something created that would carry on The Black Watch name forever,” he said. “This is what we have been dreaming about for the past five years and I am hugely proud of what we have delivered here. “The important thing now that the museum is reopened is that people now come here and enjoy it. “Our first visitors arrived the moment we opened the doors and we’ve since welcomed around 400 people. It’s been incredible and way beyond any expectations we had.” The museum also welcomed its first school visit, with youngsters from Ceres Primary School enjoying a guided tour. They also became the first to make use of the museum’s new classroom, where they undertook a project on the Second World War. Meanwhile, the new caf was filled with happy eaters, who sampled a menu created through consultation with previous visitors and filled with nods to military life, such as the regimental breakfast. “I couldn’t be any happier with the reopening,” Mr Iannetta said. In addition to an extended educational outreach programme, a series of special exhibitions will be mounted, with the first entitled The Sword and the Pencil. Learning and audience officer Rebecca Berger said: “Our first special exhibition will highlight artworks from the museum’s large collection of prints, photographs, sketches and watercolours.” * Stunned museum staff discovered a haul of antique newspapers after opening a soldier’s rucksack which had been untouched for half a century. In preparation for the reopening of The Black Watch museum, curators opened the bag belonging to Major Sir Peter Halkett and discovered the precious haul. Some of the newspapers stuffed inside were more than 150 years old, with the most recent from 42 years later in 1900. The earliest is a copy of The Field, the Country Gentlemen’s Newspaper, dated Saturday March 27 1858, and the latest is a copy of the Times, dated Friday January 5 1900. The regiment, which became a battalion under recent army reforms, is mentioned in the 1900 paper in a letter written to the editor. Although the knapsack has been in the collection for a number of years, this is the first time the contents have been seen since they were originally placed inside. Halkett carried the bag as a lieutenant, and later a captain, in the 42nd during the Crimean War. Emma Halford-Forbes, the museum curator, said the find had come as a complete surprise, despite the familiarity of the object. She said: “The knapsack was used in the Crimean campaign and it was part of his kit. We assume he put the newspaper in to keep its shape when it didn’t have his kit in it any more. “We’ve had the object for 50 years and it was really interesting that nobody had noticed before.” Major Halkett was originally from Pitfirrane, which is now a part of Dunfermline. He fought at the battle of the Alma in the Crimea, carrying the colours which are also now housed at the museum a moment which is immortalised in a painting by military artist Robert Gibb, entitled Alma: Forward the 42nd. Find out more at www.theblackwatch.co.uk
The outbreak of the First World War and its effect in Angus is being marked in a new exhibition in Forfar. The exhibition uses iconic objects, artworks, poetry and slideshows to tell the history of life in the trenches, The Black Watch and of local recipients of the Victoria Cross. Visitors to the Meffan Museum and Art Gallery can also view a selection of war drawings by Sir Muirhead Bone, who was appointed Britain’s first official war artist in 1916. Photos by Kim Cessford.
A hidden belt used to smuggle whisky from illicit stills will be just one of the items to feature in the Festival of Museums celebrations in Perth. Whisky was illicitly produced across the Highlands and Islands to avoid payment of the “malt tax” imposed in 1713. The practice continued until distilling was legalised by the Excise Act of 1823. The belt, along with part of one of those illicit distilleries, will feature in a whisky tasting at Perth Museum and Art Gallery on Saturday. The £20-a-head session will be led by experts and offers the chance to sample five different Perthshire whiskies, discover more about the area’s world-famous whisky production heritage and explore related objects in the museum’s collection. Drinkers will also be able to take part in a tour of Perth’s historic hostelries. Taking place at Perth Museum and Art Gallery on Friday, it will be led by local archivist and pub enthusiast Steve Connelly. For children there will be a puppet show and puppet workshop on the theme of the Gingerbread Man, which will take place on Saturday. Alyth museum will be hosting a Feast of Family Fun, which celebrates the National Year of Food and Drink. On Sunday the Fergusson gallery will host a cafe culture sketching workshop with professional artist David Faithfull. The Black Watch Castle and Museum is also taking part, with a Living History day on Saturday. The free event will see a troop of Waterloo-era re-enactors camped on site, giving musket demonstrations and re-enacting an officers’ duel. A First World War soldier and nurse will be taking visitors back 100 years while the Scottish Military Vehicles Group will have trucks and jeeps from the First and Second World Wars, as well as post-war, parked in the castle courtyard.
The Black Watch has not been far from the news recently after The Courier revealed that the historic battalion is leading the race to return to its traditional heartland. In an exclusive interview last week, Perthshire-born defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon said he was positive about the Black Watch – now the 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 Scots) – being based at Leuchars in future when it becomes the army’s main base in Scotland. But it’s the famous history of the Black Watch that will be firmly in the spotlight when a series of special events are held next week at The Black Watch Castle and Museum in Perth. The events at Balhousie Castle will shed light on some of the interesting places the Black Watch has been in the last 300 years, and visitors will be invited to take part in craft activities that reflect these journeys. For example, the Black Watch were in Holland during the Second World War and helped liberate a number of towns there. Visitors will be invited to paint their own individually designed Delftware plate. Time served by the Black Watch in Germany will also be an opportunity to make majestic eagles using handprints to commemorate the eagle as the national symbol of Germany. Around the world with the Black Watch, The Black Watch Castle and Museum, Perth, February 15 to February 19 www.theblackwatch.co.uk
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
The annual Black Watch regimental reunion was held in Perth at the weekend. Those attending took part in a short march from the North Inch on Saturday to The Black Watch Castle and Museum where the event was held for 300 former servicemen and their guests.
The presence of huge chunks of Dundee’s once iconic Royal Arch within the grounds of D&A College is now being explored by some of the city’s leading local history experts. A team from The McManus Dundee’s art gallery and museum plan to visit to photograph and record the stones. They discovered an article in the museum’s archives, dating back to 1964, which shows the stones in situ at the newly-opened college’s Kingsway campus. Curator of early history Christina Donald believes the article verifies links between the college and the maligned structure, which was demolished that same year. “Back in 2010 when we were doing research for the redevelopment of the museum, I came across the People’s Journal article while looking for something else,” she said. “As we have the clock from the Royal Arch in the museum’s collections, I filed it away for future reference. “When I saw the photo of the stones at the college in The Courier, I forwarded on the article so that they could confirm that their finds were indeed the stones from the Royal Arch.” As well as contacting D&A College with her find, Christina is keen to get in touch with the city archivist to see if there is any more information about the Royal Arch stones. The curator is also eager to have museum staff visit the Kingsway Campus to photograph and record the carved stones. According to college legend, three pieces of Royal Arch stonework have been around the campus since the 1960s. One has now been moved to the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland’s Robin House, in Balloch, where college staff and students recreated an award-winning show garden. The most easily-identified piece is by the science block while a third piece is shrouded in mystery as only the top is visible the rest being buried in the ground in the former caretaker’s cottage at the campus entrance. Anyone who may be able to shed further light on the stones should contact Christina at the McManus. An online petition to have the Royal Arch replicated and reinstated was opened two weeks ago. Nearly 1,300 people have since signed the petition which as a target of 20,000.
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.
The Black Watch Museum in Perth is getting ready to transport visitors back to the First World War and see just what it was like during a recruitment day as part of the annual Festival of Museums. The event, which is being held on Saturday May 14 will give families the chance to experience wartime life including trying their hand at throwing grenades and wrapping bandages, as well as making their own ID tag. Scotland's Festival of Museums takes place from May 13 to 15 and features over 100 day and night events across the country. For further information visit www.festivalofmuseums.com