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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

Scotland

Rosslyn Chapel remains reburied in church grounds

November 16 2015

Human remains discovered during maintenance work at an historic church have now been reburied in its grounds. The remains of three skeletons were found inside Rosslyn Chapel in Midlothian - which featured in Dan Brown's best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code - when work to the heating system required floor slabs to be lifted. Radiocarbon dating of two of the skeletons indicates they could have been buried in the mid-15th century, possibly around the same time the chapel was being constructed. It is thought the two skeletons were male and that at least one of them had undertaken heavy or repeated physical activity, with well-developed bone surfaces at the sites of muscle insertions. Bones that had previously been disturbed were also found in the chapel precinct, with these dated back to between the 15th and 17th centuries. Again, these are thought to be the remains of an adult male. The AOC Archaeology Group in Midlothian carried out the excavation and analysis of the bones for the Rosslyn Chapel Trust, with the bones then prepared for reburial in line with guidance from Historic Environment Scotland. Lindsay Dunbar, fieldwork project manager, AOC Archaeology Group, said: "Opportunities to work at such a world-famous and iconic monument as Rosslyn Chapel come along rarely, so it was with great anticipation that AOC undertook the archaeological monitoring during the construction of the new visitor centre and works at the chapel. "The discovery of both disturbed and in situ burials was especially exciting given the limited amount of excavation necessary within the chapel to complete the conservation works. "AOC was allowed ample time to complete the full excavation of the burials and the good preservation of the human bone allowed full osteoarchaeological analysis to be completed. "Whilst it is unlikely that the burials represent the clergy, it is clear that to occupy such a space within such a small chapel means that these burials are of people important to the chapel." Ian Gardner, director of the Rosslyn Chapel Trust, said: "The analysis provides valuable information about the age of the remains but, inevitably, questions remain unanswered about the identity of these men and their roles here. "Today's ceremony to reinter the remains was simple but a very fitting way to return them to Rosslyn Chapel."

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.

News

Relative attends ceremony for pioneering trade unionist Caroline Martyn

July 27 2010

A leading 19th century female trade unionist who died on a visit to Dundee has been commemorated at a ceremony attended by one of her relatives. Caroline Martyn died in July 1896, aged 29, after a short illness. She had been visiting the city to recruit female jute workers into the Dundee Textile Workers' Union. Her great niece Vivienne Flowers travelled from England to speak at the ceremony. It was held in Balgay Cemetery, where Caroline Martyn is buried. She said she was overwhelmed by the support and love from the Scottish community, and by how much her ancestor is appreciated. Ms Martyn's grave was rediscovered last year after inquiries by an English historian. A monument at the burial site has been restored, with its missing column reattached, after detective work by Dundee TUC secretary Mike Arnott. Mrs Flowers was alerted to the rediscovery after reading an online article in The Courier. She said, "I did a lot of reading about her and we're terribly proud. We're still quite amazed we didn't know anything about her." The ceremony, which was attended by around 25 people, was addressed by Lord Provost John Letford. It closed with a rendition of Mary Brookbank's Jute Mill Song.

Perth & Kinross

Raising burial charges in Perthshire ‘is a tax on the dead’

January 21 2016

A rise in burial charges across Perthshire has been branded a “tax on the dead” by a Labour councillor. Perth and Kinross Council is considering increasing fees for interments, cremations and memorial plaques. The local authority has the sixth highest burial charges in Scotland and the most expensive crematorium. Yesterday members of the environment committee were asked to comment on the move which could be introduced in a review of service charges. If approved, interment fees will rise from between 2.4% to 3% with payments for a casket burial rising from £891 to £918 and the cost of interring an adult going from £134 to £138. The price of cremating an adult will jump from £649 to £670, it is proposed. Labour councillor Callum Gillies called for the plan to be rejected. “Grieving families cannot afford these costs as they are and, in my personal opinion, this is quite scandalous,” he said, “We are proposing a tax on the dead and I find it inappropriate. Effectively, at the worst times in their lives people are being asked for more money.” Mr Gillies called for all bereavement service costs to remain as they are for at least another year. Committee convener Alan Grant reminded members they had not been asked to approve the plans, but give feedback for future budget talks. Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has warned the proposals would have many families struggling to afford funerals. The group’s policy officer, Fraser Sutherland, said: “CAS are concerned at the large increases in burial and cremation costs across Scotland over the last few years. These have left some families now unable to cover even a simple funeral for their loved one.” In his report to councillors, finance and resources manager Fraser Crofts said: “The average burial charges have increased on average by 10% across Scotland in 2015 when compared to 2014. Perth and Kinross Council’s increase was 3% for the same period and it is proposed to increase all charges by a further 3% for 2016/17.” He added that cremation costs rose by 5% across Scotland in the same period.

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

Grave policy challenge ‘could have implications for Muslim community’

February 16 2018

Lawyers say a Muslim man has mounted a human rights challenge against a council’s cemetery policy which could have implications for the Islamic community.Atta Ul-Haq wants to build an edge around his father’s grave at Streetly Cemetery in Walsall to stop people walking across the burial site.His lawyers say Walsall Council bosses have refused his request on the basis that it is a breach of their cemetery policy.They say Mr Ul-Haq is preparing to ask the High Court to declare the council’s decision unfair.Mr Ul-Haq says the rules of Islam forbid people from stepping on graves and he is arguing that the council’s policy breaches his human right to exercise religion – a right enshrined in Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.Solicitor Natalia Garcia, who is representing Mr Ul-Haq and works for Fountain Solicitors, says a judge at the High Court in London is expected to analyse the case in the near future.“It is arguable that Walsall Council’s cemetery policy breaches Article 9,” she said.“This is because the policy prohibits edgings around graves in the lawn area which is reserved for Muslim burials.“There is therefore nothing to prevent my client’s father’s grave from being traversed by foot or maintenance machinery, which is against my client’s beliefs.”She said the case was of “significant wider public interest to the Muslim community”.Earlier this year, a High Court judge ruled in favour of two Muslims who complained that dirty conditions in cells at an immigration removal centre hampered their prayers. Mr Justice Holman decided the men’s ability to pray at specified times in a clean area was hindered when they were locked in 12 metre square cells with other detainees between 9pm and 8am at Brook House immigration removal centre near Gatwick Airport. He concluded that their Article 9 rights had been infringed by Home Office ministers without justification.

Rocktalk

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.

Muslim set for court fight to stop people walking on father’s grave

February 16 2018

A Muslim man is preparing for a High Court fight after complaining that a council breached his human rights by preventing him from building an edge around his father’s grave.Atta Ul-Haq wants to stop people walking across the burial site at Streetly Cemetery in Walsall.Bosses at Walsall Council have refused his request on the basis that the building of an edge would breach a cemetery policy.He says the rules of Islam forbid people from stepping on graves and claims that the council’s policy breaches his human right to exercise religion – a right enshrined in Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.A council spokeswoman on Friday indicated that bosses would fight the claim and said: “The council is confident its policy is lawful.”Mr Ul-Haq’s lawyers say the case could have implications for the Islamic community.Solicitor Natalia Garcia, who is representing Mr Ul-Haq and works for Fountain Solicitors, says a judge at the High Court in London is expected to oversee a trial in the near future.“It is arguable that Walsall Council’s cemetery policy breaches Article 9,” she said.“This is because the policy prohibits edgings around graves in the lawn area which is reserved for Muslim burials.“There is therefore nothing to prevent my client’s father’s grave from being traversed by foot or maintenance machinery, which is against my client’s beliefs.”She said the case was of “significant wider public interest to the Muslim community”.Earlier this year, a High Court judge ruled in favour of two Muslims who complained that dirty conditions in cells at an immigration removal centre hampered their prayers.Mr Justice Holman decided the men’s ability to pray at specified times in a clean area was hindered when they were locked in 12-metre square cells with other detainees between 9pm and 8am at Brook House immigration removal centre near Gatwick Airport.He concluded that their Article 9 rights had been infringed by Home Office ministers without justification.

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