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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

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.

Chef's Table

Dark chocolate makes a perfect gift

February 17 2018

With Mother’s Day and Easter round the corner, Graeme Pallister - chef patron of 63 Tay Street in Perth - cooks up a sweet treat Chocolate. Just that one simple word is enough to set my mouth watering – and I’m certainly not alone. On average we each eat around 11kg of the wonderful stuff every year, a figure that places us top of the choc-loving pops amidst our European cousins. After January’s good intentions, Mother’s Day (March 11) and Easter (April 1) deliver the perfect excuse for indulging in our favourite bean. After all, how many other food stuffs say “Thank you” and “Happy Easter” in one simple gift? In recent years, however, our palates have become more sophisticated and we’ve begun to demand higher quality, ethically produced chocolate that leaves the sickly sweet, commercial bars of yesteryear pining on the sweetie shelf. Cacao beans come with impressive health attributes including high levels of immune-boosting antioxidants, flavonoids and polyphenols. Be warned though – this is only true for dark chocolate as the minute you start adding fats and sugar into the equation, everything changes. Unfortunately, you can’t scoff down Mars Bars in a bid to get healthy, and what we call white chocolate isn’t even technically chocolate. I’m talking about a few small squares of dark chocolate, perhaps sprinkled with nuts and dried fruits for a little extra lift. For me, the versatility of dark chocolate is why I love it so much and I will always add a little square to a game sauce or beef chilli. It is the perfect vehicle for spices, citrus or tropical fruits and makes the perfect accompaniment to a short, strong espresso. However, I’m not quite as advanced as the Mayans, who used the cocoa bean as currency as it was considered to be worth more than gold dust. That’s what you call civilised living! Chef’s tip It’s super easy to make a simple chocolate ganache: place a dry, clean bowl over boiling water, break your chocolate into chunks and place in the dry bowl. Gently heat until it starts to melt. Stir in double cream (about 50% of your chocolate volume) and add sugar to taste. For an amazing family treat, layer into individual trifle dishes with fresh fruit, ice cream and crumbled shortbread.    

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.


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.

Restaurant Reviews

The Inn on The Tay, Grandtully (39/50)

November 5 2016

Every time I turn on the TV or radio at the moment, I hear snippets about a Danish lifestyle word that is gaining a lot of interest in Britain - the word is 'hygge' and one of the translations is 'cosiness of the soul'. It has been described as cocoa by an open fire or enjoying a slow cooked stew with friends and as the temperature is dropping and the evenings are getting shorter, I decided to go in search of my own hygge in Courier country. For me, a stress free, relaxed autumn evening involves a fire, candles, listening to the wind howling outside and my labrador laying on my feet. This was exactly what I found at The Inn on The Tay. Dogs are allowed in the bar area where the full restaurant menu is also served and so I booked us a spot on a comfy sofa near the wood burner. The bar is welcoming in every way. The decor is traditional, the lighting is low with flames flickering, the leather armchairs are comfy and both the staff and the many locals at the proper bar were warm and friendly despite us outsiders having invaded.  The menu is pub grub spiked with a few more elegant surprises which we planned to take our time to enjoy. The soup of the day was French onion which Mr Kerry leapt at and was not disappointed, although it could have been hotter. The conservative bowl was packed full of slow cooked onions in their familiar deep brown liquor and crowned with a cheesy, crouton as hoped. I ordered the grilled goats cheese which I have to say was presented in a much more refined way than I had expected - the cheese was piped onto the two large flat mushrooms and the stars of the dish were garnished with a lovely homemade pesto, balsamic reduction, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and baby basil leaves which completed a really lovely starter. I opted for the pork belly salad next from the 'light bites' section of the menu.  The frisée lettuce had a nice sharp dressing and was tossed amongst crispy black pudding, lardons, croutons and sweet walnuts. My only disappointment was that the pork belly bites had not been cooked for quite long enough as although it was incredibly tender, there was still a thick layer of fat on each morsel which had not been given the chance to render away. Mr Kerry chose the pie of the day which happened to be smoked haddock and leek with a caviar butter sauce. What arrived looked like a large pastry powder puff sitting on roasted vegetables and Mr Kerry took great delight in piercing the flaky shell to release the steam and aromas of the very smokey yet not too salty fish. The butter sauce - and I mean this only as a compliment - tasted like a homemade version of the boil in the bag fish sauce I remember having as a child and was creamy and satisfying. The Inn overlooks the canoe slalom site on the River Tay and I can imagine the decked area would make a cracking place to sit in the summer. Grandtully is a place for adventure with not only canoeing but canyoning and white water rafting amongst the exciting exploits the area has to offer. During the colder months however, this is a lovely place to come to casually discover the meaning of hygge. Info Price: Starters: £4.50 - £8; mains: £9.50 - £19. Value: 8/10 Menu:  7/10 Atmosphere: 8/10 Service: 9/10 Food: 7/10 Total: 39/50 Info: The Inn on The Tay Address: Grandtully, Pitlochry, PH9 0PL Tel: 01887 840760 Web: www.theinnonthetay.co.uk


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.