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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...

Perth & Kinross

Calcutta Cup brought to Perth to help celebrate rugby club’s milestone year

May 14 2018

One of Scotland's oldest rugby clubs has celebrated its 150th anniversary with a massive party in Perth. The famous Calcutta Cup, last seen in jubilant scenes at Murrayfield following Scotland’s epic Six Nations victory against England, was among the star attractions at Perthshire Rugby's celebrations in North Inch. Thousands of people flocked to the park for the club's annual Beer Festival and rugby 7s tournament. The all-day event, held in a huge marquee, was blessed with blue skies and sunshine and featured live music and outdoor games. The Calcutta Cup proved to be one of the biggest draws, with fans queuing up for photographs with the ornate 18 inch trophy. Scotland secured the cup after pulling off the the biggest upset of the Six Nations this year. Perthshire Rugby said it was “delighted” that the club had secured the opportunity to showcase the trophy to fans. Allan Brown, Perthshire Rugby Chief Executive and Event Organiser thanked everyone who supported the event, including sponsors Tan International and The Tavern. "It was a fantastic day," he said. "This year’s festival has been the biggest yet with around 4,000 festival-goers visiting us on Saturday. "Perthshire Rugby is celebrating 150 years of rugby in Perth this year and we were privileged to have the opportunity to show the Calcutta Cup, which is nearly as old as our club, to festival goers and rugby fans." It was on the North Inch that Perthshire Rugby played its first game, against the Scots Greys, in January 1868. Football had been outlawed on the park, after a particularly notorious match ended in riots. The infamous clash happened in 1836, when the Lord Provost challenged Lord Stormont of Scone Palace to a game of football. The match went ahead with 50 players on each side and, according to historic records, the ball was kicked, mauled and carried. Several balls were lost that day, either burst or swept away on the River Tay. The game "raged furiously" for three hours in front of a crowd of about 15,000 supporters before umpires declared a draw. The football ban opened the gates for rugby players from universities to educate local students about the new game. The first match attracted a crowd of about 8,000 people. Next weekend, there will be another chance to see the Calcutta Cup at Kinross Rugby Club as part of its end-of-season fun day and awards ceremony. The event will be held on Saturday from 11.30am to 1.30pm.

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.

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.


Dundee’s industrial heritage: jute and globalisation

March 14 2011

Ahead of delivering two lectures on Dundee's jute connections, Professor Gordon Stewart speaks to the Courier about the city's historic industry. Open the pages of almost any newspaper on a regular basis and you'll find stories bemoaning foreign countries for spiriting away our jobs with low-wage workers and attractive tax regimes. Whether it's manufacturing jobs going to China, IT posts going to India or, to cite a local case in the not-too-distant past, NCR's ATM manufacturing outfit moving to Hungary, there are plenty of opportunities to accuse Johnny Foreigner of swooping in and taking our industry. Of course, it's somewhat hubristic for the wealthy countries that invented capitalism and the free market economy to carp when it doesn't work in their favour. So it's hard to know whether to be reassured or appalled that the situation was much the same 100 years ago. "One of the interesting things about jute is that it was one of the earliest signs of the tensions we now see with globalisation," says Professor Gordon Stewart. "It was Dundee that introduced jute to Calcutta and effectively set up the jute industry over there. Very soon, Calcutta was manufacturing jute more cheaply and more efficiently than Dundee was, and people began to complain about it." An expert on the jute links between Dundee and Calcutta, Gordon is currently on secondment at Dundee University as the Leverhulme Professor. He's fascinated by the city's history of jute manufacture.'Global city'"Jute made Dundee a global city," he says. "America used jute to wrap its massive cotton crops. It was used across Europe and Asia. Scott took it to the Antarctic on the Discovery. "There wasn't a corner of the world that was untouched by jute." For the Dundee born academic, the four-month secondment is a welcome chance to rediscover the city he grew up in. The 66-year old went to Morgan Academy before studying modern history at St Andrews University, graduating in 1967. He then headed to Canada, where he took a PhD at Queen's University in Ontario. In 1970, he went to work at Michigan State University where he has spent most of his subsequent career. His list of publications is as long as your arm and deals mainly with British imperial and world history. In 1998 he wrote Jute & Empire, which looked at how the Calcutta jute industry defeated Dundee's. Much of the research for this was done in India and it was published in the year the last of Dundee's jute mills went out of production. "A colleague suggested that so many historians in Dundee had already been over the archive material on the jute era that the bones were thoroughly picked clean," Gordon explains.Passages in India"He suggested the best way to find new material would be to look at things from the other side. So I went to Calcutta and started looking in the archives there, and found some quite fascinating tales about Dundee's links with the city." Some of Gordon's research features in a new book, Jute No More, that was released by Dundee University Press last week. In it, he looks at the reasons behind the decline of Dundee's jute industry. It didn't take long, he explains, for Dundee to fall behind its new industrial ally. "Dundonians helped set up the Calcutta jute industry and within 30 or so years they were doing it more cheaply and efficiently. "I found a piece in a Calcutta newspaper from 1878. It said that the previous year Dundee had sent three million tons of jute to California. The following year, that had fallen to just 300,000 tons. "California switched to buying jute from Calcutta because it was cheaper." Before long, Calcutta was acting in a manner not dissimilar to the OPEC countries that harbour most of the world's oil supplies. "They began regulating supply so they could control prices," Gordon explains. "Much like you see happening today, they claimed this was to maintain stability, but really they were just trying to make money hand over fist. "I found complaints from Dundee about Calcutta's domination of the market as early as the 1890s." Ironically, while Calcutta's jute industry was harming Dundee's economy, it was also providing one of the most surefire ways of enjoying a lifestyle that was out of reach of all but the wealthiest of Dundonians. "Those Dundonians who went to work in Calcutta lived in gated communities," Gordon continues. "They had large houses with gardeners, maids, cooks, butlers and cleaners. "They had swimming pools and tennis courts. When they were still quite young they would have amassed enough money to come back and enjoy a comfortable retirement in Dundee. "I found a record of a boy who left Harris Academy with just his basic certificate and went on to become very wealthy working in Calcutta. It was one of the few ways to make good money if you did not have much in the way of qualifications." This week and next, Gordon will be delivering the two prestigious public lectures at the University of Dundee. The first of the Leverhulme lectures, on Wednesday, has the unusual title Killed by an Umbrella: Dundee, Calcutta and the Endgame For Jute. "It's a play on the Bulgarian dissident who was killed on Waterloo bridge by a poisoned umbrella in the 70s," Gordon says. "Calcutta claimed to be holding an umbrella over Dundee, but in reality it was destroying the mother industry." The second lecture, taking place next Monday is Murder in Calcutta: Violence & Imperialism in a Calcutta Jute Mill. "This was inspired by a case I came across of a Calcutta jute mill manager from Dundee, a man called Spencer, who beat to death one of the workers in his mill. The mill owner thought they needed a tough Dundee guy to control the labour force. "He was arrested and put on trial no fewer than three times, because the British authorities wanted to show British justice was impartial in India." Spencer's lawyer, however, took advantage of the poorly educated workforce's inability to accurately read the time to poke holes in their witness testimony and the mill manager was acquitted. "If you look at the sweep of the historical record you can see a lot of white people were brought to trial for crimes, but very few were jailed or executed. "Really, what the British wanted was the appearance of justice."Professor Gordon Stewart will be delivering Dundee University's two Leverhulme Lectures. Killed by an Umbrella: Dundee, Calcutta and the Endgame for Jute is at the D'Arcy Thompson Lecture Theatre at 6.30pm on Wednesday, March 16. Murder in Calcutta: Violence & Imperialism in a Calcutta Jute Mill is on Monday, March 21, at 6.30pm in the D'Arcy Thompson Lecture Theatre. Tickets are free and are available via www.buyat.dundee.ac.uk Jute No More is available at a special discounted price of £17 for Courier readers. Go to www.buyat.dundee.ac.uk, add to basket then type in 'DUP10' to purchase, or phone 01382 384413 and quote 'Courier.'


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.

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.