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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.

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


Church of Scotland moderator tells of sadness at Mingulay sinking that killed relative

April 16 2016

The moderator of the Church of Scotland has offered prayers for the men lost with the sinking of a fishing boat in the Western Isles, as he revealed one of the victims was a relative. Chris Morrison, 27, was one of two men who died when the Louisa sank near Mingulay a week ago, and a third man remains missing. A fourth crew member, Lachlan Armstrong, was rescued after clinging to some rocks. Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: "It was with a sense of shock and sadness that I learned of the sinking of the Louisa off Mingulay, with tragic loss of life. "Since then, my thoughts and prayers, as those of us all in the Church of Scotland, have been with the families of those who lost their lives, and with Lachlan the sole survivor. "For me the sadness of this event has a very personal element, as one of the crew lost, Chris Morrison, was a relative. Chris will be laid to rest in his native Harris today." Mr Morrison was the grandson of the Moderator's cousin. Martin Johnstone, 29, from Caithness, also died in the tragedy last Saturday. The missing fisherman has been named as Paul Alliston, 42, from Lewis. Mr Armstrong, 27, also from Lewis, managed to swim to shore and clung to rocks until he was rescued by a lifeboat. An investigation will be carried out by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch. The Moderator said: "Island communities are no strangers to tragedies at sea. "One of the great strengths of these communities, however, is the way in which they come together to support one another, especially at difficult times such as this. "I know that in every community of the Western Isles people will be grieving with and praying for the bereaved families. Such solidarity will help mitigate the pain and grief."

Farming news

Ploughing mAtch round-up

March 18 2014

The sixth revived Highlands of Fife ploughing match was the best ever attended, with 83 entries for the competition, held at Bannafield Farm,St Andrews, by permission of Mr G Sprott. Ploughmen arrived from as far afield as the Isle of Bute, Berwick and Peterhead. Two pairs of horses added to the occasion, as did the rare sight of a Muir Hill 121 tractor taking part with a four-furrow Dowsdwell. Ross Kinnaird of Kinross was best horse ploughman. John Bathgate of Dunbar was the 12” mounted winner. Classic reversible champion Fraser Millar of Clackmannan used a two-furrow Ransome which had ploughed the same field 50 years ago in the hands of Bob Steven, who showed Fraser a photograph of the plough in action. Dave Carnegie of Laurencekirk took the reversible butts award. The 12” hydraulic class trophy went to Ian Williams, Peterhead. The reversible winner was Robert Black of Largoward, while his relative Liam Black was the junior winner. Raymond Smart of Leven took the trailing title. Results were as follow. Overall champion: Stuart Forsyth, Berwick-on-Tweed; reserve Ian Williams, Peterhead. Specials Ford Prize: Stuart Forsyth. Best feering in the field: Ron Phillips, Pitlessie. John Louden Memorial Trophy for best feering and finish combined (in 12” class): Charlie Manson, Philipston. Horse class Feering: Benny Duncan, Balmalcom. Ploughing: Ross Kinnaird, Kinross. Finish: Ross Kinnaird. Straightest: Ross Kinnaird. Best turned-out pair: Benny Duncan. Trailing Throw-outs: Raymond Smart, Leven. Feering: 1 Morris Blacklaws, Carnoustie; 2 Raymond Smart; 3 Rab Birrell, Thornton. Ploughing: 1 Raymond Smart; 2 Morris Blacklaws, Carnoustie; 3 Rab Birrell. Finish: 1 Morris Blacklaws; 2 Raymond Smart; 3 Rab Birrell. Straightest rig: Raymond Smart. Ins and outs: Rab Birrell. 10” mounted. Throw-outs: Stuart Forsyth. Feering: 1 Ron Phillips; 2 Jock Sivewright, Meigle; 3 Dave Veitch, Scotlandwell. Ploughing: 1 Stuart Forsyth; 2 Jock Sivewright; 3 Ron Phillips. Finish: 1 Stuart Forsyth; 2 Jock Sivewright; 3 Ron Phillips. Straightest rig: Stuart Forsyth. Ins and outs: Stuart Forsyth. 12” mounted. Throw-outs: John Winter, Garvald. Feering: 1 Charlie Manson; 2 John Bathgate, Dunbar; 3 John Adamson, Brechin. Ploughing: 1 John Bathgate; 2 Charlie Manson; 3 James Mcindoe, Uphall. Finish: 1 James Mcindoe; 2 Charlie Manson; 3 John Bathgate. Straightest rig: James Mcindoe. Ins and outs: John Bathgate, Dunbar. 12” hydraulics. Throw-out: Ian Williams. Feering: 1 Ian Williams; 2 Willie Grieve, Luncarty; 3 John Tait, Gullane. Ploughing: 1 Ian Williams; 2 John Tait; 3 Willie Grieve. Finish: 1 Willie Grieve; 2 John Tait; 3 Ian Williams. Straightest rig: Ian Williams. Ins and outs: Alistair Brown, Darvel. Reversible Throw-outs: Duncan Falconer, Boarhills. Feering: 1 Archie Finlay, Leven; 2 Robert Black, Largoward; 3 Fraser Millar, Clackmanan. Ploughing: 1 Robert Black; 2 Fraser Millar; 3 Archie Finlay. Finish: 1 Jim Ballie, Forfar; 2 John Walker, Airth; 3 Robert Black. Straightest rig: Robert Black. Ins and outs: Archie Finlay. Best work with a two-furrow classic reversible plough: Fraser Millar. Reversible butts. Throw-outs: Andy Greenhill, Perth. Feering: 1 Dave Carnegie, Laurencekirk; 2 Andy Greenhill; 3 Scott Alexander, Fettercairn. Ploughing: 1 Scott Alexander; 2 Dave Carnegie; 3 Andy Greenhill. Finish: 1 Dave Carnegie; 2 Andy Greenhill; 3 Scott Alexander. Straightest rig: Dave Carnegie. Ins and outs: Andy Greenhill. Juniors Throw-outs: Stuart Grieg, Tealing. Feering: 1 Stuart Grieg; 2 Douglas Greig, Tealing; 3 Liam Black, Largoward. Ploughing: 1 Liam Black; 2 Douglas Grieg; 3 Stuart Grieg. Finish: 1 Liam Black; 2 Douglas Grieg; 3 Stuart Grieg. Straightest rig: Liam Black. Ins and outs: Douglas Greig. Demonstrators 1 Tommy Malcolm, Sellars; 2 Bob Grieg, Tm Simpson; 3 Alex Rearie, Netherton Tractors. Meanwhile, the annual DMR Machinery Club ploughing match was at Newmill Farm, Cupar, by permission of Bill Wardlaw. Classes were for David Brown, International and Case tractors and ploughs, in keeping with the club’s aims. The most unusual entry was by David Symington of Strathkinness, who brought an American-spec Case DC4 tractor coupled to a two-furrow Case plough mounted with the Case Eagle Hitch. Winning this class was Keith Lyall using another DC4 and a Ransome trailing plough. In the International class it was Rab Birrell of Thornton who took the award, using an international W4 tractor in front of a Cockshutt trailing plough. Angus Smart of Buckhaven took the prize for the best work with an International tractor and plough combination using a 434 and B series plough. Winning the equivalent David Brown trophy was G Findlay using an 880 Implematic in front of a DB-mounted plough. Willie Grieve from St Andrews took the best ploughing section with a two-furrow mounted plough behind his Fordson Dexta. Results Case Feering: 1 K Lyle, Burrelton; 2 G Souter, Kirriemuir; 3 G Melville, Limerigg. Ploughing: 1 K Lyle; 2 G Souter; 3 G Melville. Finish: 1 K Lyle; 2 G Souter; 3 D Symington. DB Feering: 1 G Findlay, Forfar; 2 J Fleming, Kirriemuir; 3 W Grieve, St Andrews. Ploughing: 1 W Grieve; 2 J Fleming; 3 J Roger, St Andrews. Finish: 1 W Grieve; 2 T Campbell, Aberfeldy; 3 J Fleming. DB/DB combination: G Findlay. IH Feering: 1 R Birrell, Thornton; 2 J McIndoe jun, Uphall; 3 R Smart, Leven. Ploughing: 1 R Birrell; 2 J McIndoe jun; 3 R Smart. Finish: 1 J McIndoe jun; 2 R Birrell; 3 J Don, Wormit. IH/IH Combination: A Smart.

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.

UK & World

Court fight mother says she wants justice for her children

April 30 2018

An unmarried mother behind a legal battle to access widowed parent’s allowance has accused the Government of treating her grieving children as “insignificant”.Siobhan McLaughlin, 46, said her case, being heard at the Supreme Court sitting in Northern Ireland for the first time, was never about her but about justice for her children.The special needs classroom assistant from Armoy, Co Antrim, was with her partner John Adams, a groundsman, for 23 years and they had four children – Rebecca, 15, Billy, 16, Lisa, 21, and Stuart, 23.Following Mr Adams’s death from cancer in January 2014, Ms McLaughlin had to take on an evening job after being refused widowed parent’s allowance because the couple were not married nor in a civil partnership.She sought a judicial review of the decision, claiming unlawful discrimination based on her marital status and won her original court case, later overturned by the Court of Appeal.The Supreme Court heard her latest application for judicial review on Monday.Her lawyer, Frank O’Donoghue QC, asked the court: “Is there a defensive aspect to this legislation, holding up Ms McLaughlin as an example to what might happen to you if you don’t get married?”Mr O’Donoghue said Ms McLaughlin should be treated equally to a married couple with children after the death of the breadwinner. “The court should require the state, as we prepare to enter the third decade of the 21st century, to justify this obvious difference in treatment, beyond the rather simplistic and rigid explanation that one widow was married and the other was not,” he said.“As a bare minimum, entitlement to widowed parent’s allowance on the part of cohabiting unmarried parents and children is required.”Mr O’Donoghue said the benefit is not for the married couple but for the survivor and children and claimed there is no evidence proving current restrictions promote marriage.The court also heard from Helen Mountfield QC, for the Child Poverty Action Group, who argued the ruling is incompatible with international law and “penalises” children whose parents are not married, treating them as “less worthy”.Tony McGleenan QC, for the Department for Communities, argued against this.He said the eligibility stems from having children but the benefit is not for them, as it is described as a benefit for the survivor.He said marital status is a “non-suspect ground of discrimination” as it is not an inherent characteristic and can be changed, adding that benefits of this type “should make marriage more attractive” to some cohabiting couples.Lady Hale said a judgment will be made at a later date but warned the ruling sought does not oblige the Government to act.Speaking outside court, Ms McLaughlin, who was accompanied by her two youngest children, thanked supporters.She said: “This case was never about me. I would love to be recognised as a widow but I accept in the eyes of the law and the Government that I am not.“What I wasn’t prepared to accept was how the Government viewed my children – how they could treat my grieving, bereaved children as insignificant.“I am such a private person but to sit and accept that this is how it is made me say, ‘No, this is wrong’. “I want to look my children in the eye and say it is the Government at fault here, not you, and because of this I have tried to rectify this for you.”


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.