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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...

Angus & The Mearns

Sizzling success for Angus butcher

April 20 2018

An Angus butcher is toasting a sizzling success after being judged the best in the East of Scotland at the regional heat of the Scottish Beef Sausage Championship. The competition, held in Perth’s Dewars Centre saw Newtyle butchers James Pirie and Son repeat their previous success in 2008 and 2012 by scooping the title again this year. The firm will now go forward to represent the region at the final to be held in next month. For the next stage, a mystery shopper will buy the links from all the regional winners, and a panel of experts will then decide which firm serves up the best butcher’s beef sausages in Scotland for 2018. Douglas Scott, Chief Executive of the Scottish Craft Butchers said: “Scottish Butchers develop their meat products in consultation with their customers. “Their feedback is very important and butchers can react quickly to changing consumer tastes since in most cases they make their sausages on the premises. “This competition once again showcased the high levels of skill and pride in product among the craft butcher’s sector. “I am certain that this event confirms to customers that it is worth making the effort to shop at their local butcher.” The firm has been trading since 1960, and has accrued an enviable 143 awards for their produce, which includes 38 different varieties of sausages and burgers.

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

Dundee United

Butcher wants to make most of chance to be Dundee United’s Steven Gerrard

December 2 2014

Successive managers have decided that Calum Butcher was a central defender. However, the Dundee United player always believed that his best position was in midfield like his role model Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool skipper was Butcher’s inspiration growing up and while he will have to go some to become as good a player as Gerrard, he admits he is finally feeling at home in the middle for the Tangerines. United boss Jackie McNamara brought him off the bench at half-time against Motherwell in the Scottish Cup at the weekend, and he helped his side overturn a one-goal deficit with his powerful performance from the engine-room of the team. The 23-year-old former Spurs youth player said: “When you are on the bench, you are always thinking what you can do if you come on to try to change the game. “We were 1-0 down but we came back and won 2-1 so it was obviously a positive result. “It is always frustrating to be left out but you just have to keep positive and train well. When your chance comes, you have to take it. “I really like playing in midfield. I have said it so many times now, but that is where I want to play. “I like getting forward, pressing the ball and just bringing energy to the team. “I will close people down and win the ball back. I probably won’t be the player who hits a through ball or the creative pass. “I will keep it simple and ticking over. “I played midfield a few times when I was younger at Tottenham but I was more a centre-half. “I always thought I should play in midfield but managers insisted that I play in defence.” When asked if there was a player he modelled himself on, Butcher said: “When I was younger, it was Steven Gerrard with the way he wins the ball back and then passes. “There are so many good midfielders down south. “Frank Lampard was brilliant again at the weekend but I think I look to Steven Gerrard more.” United manager Jackie McNamara has not been afraid to chop and change his starting line-up in recent weeks, utilising his squad to the full. And Butcher admits that has kept everyone on their toes. He said: “Everybody is playing well and I think the competition for places is bringing the best out of players. “You want to stay in the team every week, so you have to play well. “We have another week’s training now so I just have to do well and see what happens. “I have told the gaffer I am ready to play when he needs me.”

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.

Business news

Prudence pays off for Perthshire butcher Simon Howie

September 11 2015

Perthshire-based Simon Howie Butchers, whose products are sold by the UK’s leading supermarkets, continues to deliver healthy profits. Turnover for last year was up 8% at £14.1 million, and a £30,000 reduction in interest charges allied to investment income of £117,000 raised pre-tax profit by 30% to £2.4m. The previous year turnover was up 9% at £13m and profit before tax had more than doubled at £1.85m. The master butcher said the financial position in 2014 of the company, based at his Findony Farm in Dunning, was healthy. The balance sheet had strengthened and the short-term prospects remained positive. He said: “The company is retaining profits to invest in operational improvements to maintain margins. “Turnover increases with the marketing of new products and an enhanced operating profit is achieved through greater production efficiencies and prudent management of overheads.” Last year’s performance was boosted by a six-figure sales contract for the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in September. Howie supplied corporate hospitality providers with more than 1,500 racks of Scotch Lamb for the Ryder Cup Gala Dinner. It also supplied mobile caterers with more than 20,000 Simon Howie burgers to the food stalls throughout the three-day golfing event. Simon Howie is prominent in the retail trade in Perthshire with butcher shops in Perth and Auchterarder. Shop staff are part of a workforce of more than 100. Recent growth owes much to Howie’s branded bacon, sausages, haggis and black pudding being sold by Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Lidl, Aldi and the Co-operative Group. The company has further increased distribution in England and picked up several high-end restaurant customers. The company founder prides himself on having lived in Dunning all his life “from a wee boy on the farm to now running my own business, which is still based in the village”. He added: “The move from farming to butchery felt natural, it was my dad’s idea and I’m still grateful to him for it.”

Other sports

British GT Championship: Fife racer relishing new season in ‘unbelievable’ Aston Martin V12 Vantage

March 28 2014

Fife racer Rory Butcher is ready to stake a claim for 2014 success with a top-ranking British GT Championship outfit. The 27-year-old has bagged a seat in a Motorbase Performance Aston Martin V12 Vantage as the crack team look to reclaim the crown they won in 2012. Following two successful seasons with Celtic Speed in the pro class of the Porsche Carrera Cup which reaped five race wins and 19 podiums, Butcher is thrilled to be joining an Avon Tyres British GT series which is shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested seasons of recent years. A string of iconic marques will be involved in the chase for GT3 glory across seven rounds at circuits including Brands Hatch and Belgium’s Spa Francorchamps. Kirkcaldy-based Butcher is familiar to many as an instructor at Knockhill, where he has recently taken on a new role in the events team, and told The Courier next month’s Oulton Park opener cannot come quick enough. “I am delighted to be joining Motorbase Performance, running under the Oman Air Racing banner for 2014,” he said. “Their pedigree and track record are superb having won the GT title in 2012. The switch to a two-driver format where tactics and strategy play such an important part is something I am looking forward to. Butcher’s team mate will be ex-Le Mans 24 hour runner John Hartshorne and the Fifer is already hugely impressed by the Motorbase set-up and the V12 Aston, brimming with technology and boasting some 600 horsepower. “Everything came together quite late, but I’ve driver the car and it is just unbelievable,” said Rory. “I’ve driven the Porsches for the past three years and they felt quick, but this is something else. It has huge amounts of power and grip and I think there’s still a bit of pace to be found,” he added. Butcher, who was Scottish Formula Ford champion in 2009 and followed that up with a GT4 gategory British GT series second place the following year, is also looking forward to getting to grips with the challenge of longer race distances of up to three hours. He added: “This new adventure just wouldn’t be possible without the sponsorship which is such a big thing these days. l’m very appreciative that I have a some very special sponsors. Hopefully, we can make a huge splash this year and reward them with some valuable exposure.” It will be a busy season for the Motorbase team as they embark on a British GT Championship and Blancpain Endurance Series challenge, whilst also running three Ford Focuses in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship under the Airwaves and Crabbie’s Racing banners.


Dundee man seen with butcher’s knife gets prison term

January 2 2014

A Dundee man has been jailed for three and a half years, after admitting his fourth offence of carrying a knife. Frank Needham, 31, a prisoner at Perth, admitted that on October 24, at Nethergate, he possessed a knife. Depute fiscal Laura Bruce told the court the accused was observed on four city centre CCTV cameras, sitting on a bench with another person. “He was seen to remove a knife from a bag, was seen with the knife in his right hand which he then concealed in his left hand sleeve. He was then seen to enter a bus and spoke with the driver before leaving the bus. When police went to speak with him, he made off and during the pursuit he was seen to throw the knife to the ground.” Ms Bruce said an officer picked up the knife, described as a five-and-a-half-inch, bladed butcher’s knife. Solicitor Mike Short asked Sheriff Davidson to consider getting reports to see why the accused carried knives. However, the sheriff said there was no alternative to the maximum custodial sentence of four years, with a discount of six months for his early plea. He ordered forfeiture of the knife.

Farming news

Pupils prepare award-winning burgers

April 26 2018

Meat may be off the menu in Edinburgh schools, but in Perthshire a primary class has helped a local butcher scoop a gold award for its Scotch lamb and mint burgers. Taking inspiration from Alexander McCall Smith’s novel The Perfect Hamburger, the Primary 4 children at Morrison’s Academy in Crieff developed their recipe then created promotional packaging, a poster and a short promotional video to enter the competition run by the Scottish Craft Butchers. The burger was produced by Murray Lauchlan, a seventh-generation butcher at David Comrie and Son. Morrison’s Academy head of primary, Morven Bulloch, said: “The pupils have developed their teamwork and leadership, listening and presenting, problem solving and creativity skills and really brought the project to life by working in partnership with a local family butcher. “Mr Lauchlan guided and assisted the pupils in running their own business and making their own burgers and to win gold is an amazing achievement. “We are looking forward to celebrating this success by holding our own barbecue, to allow the school community to sample the delights of Primary 4’s hard work.” Class teacher Gillian Lauchlan said the children had explored what it means to be enterprising. She added: “Making our own burger recipes and cooking them brought the project to life and knowing the burgers are now being made commercially is so exciting.” nnicolson@thecourier.co.uk

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