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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

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

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.

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.

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.

Readers' letters

August 10: Johann Lamont – leading questions will obviously produce a specific outcome

August 10 2012

Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, - Malcolm McCandless (Letters, August 6), is very quick to stick the knife into Johann Lamont, the Scottish Labour leader. However, a poll looking at one party and listing ''untrustworthy'', ''out of touch'', ''incompetent'' and ''boring'' as options is clearly biased and focused on achieving a destructive outcome, for whatever reason. When you ask people leading questions, you will get a biased answer. If you were to ask the Scottish public whether they trusted Alex Salmond, there would almost certainly be a very significant number, even within his own party, who would reply in the negative. I watched Johann Lamont in one of the televised leadership debates earlier this year and even as a member of another party, I have to say that the audience reacted very well to her good humour and groundedness, and it was obvious to me that she had learned the lessons from 2011. Their election results demonstrate this, gaining even in Perth and Kinross. Johann Lamont is very obviously persuaded that our future lies with a better devolved settlement, not with the country being independent. Be that right or wrong, she appears clear and sincere in her beliefs and we should respect that. I don't recall any Labour politician or party member coming forward to contest their recent leadership contest on the basis that Scotland should be independent. Victor Clements. Mamie's Cottage, Aberfeldy. Glowing picture of the old days Sir, - When I read Andrew Arbuckle's piece ''Sad to lose this local link'' (August 6), I was reminded of an article in the Holyrood Magazine which expressed similar sentiment around the time of the move towards multi-member constituencies. It painted a glowing picture of the days when, ''it was possible to bump into the Provost on his way to and from the town hall, or to drop in to see the burgh engineer about a hole in the road, there was a sense of communal ownership of local democracy. ''Local rows might become more intense and local feelings might run high about minor issues on such a row, but the upside was that there was a shared desire to see appropriate services provided to the highest standard'' and if it all seemed to be costing too much ''then there was the burgh treasurer to buttonhole at the paper shop or pub.'' It went on to say that it was important to ''return decision making to each community. That means putting into the hands of ordinary people control of the place in which they live and giving them the means to hold to account those who represent them. So 'back to the burghs' it must be.'' The author of this piece? None other than Mike Russell. Yes, the same Mike Russell who went on to become a list MSP for South of Scotland with an electorate of some 500,000 and stretching from Kilmarnock to Berwickshire. As you say, Mr Russell: ''Nothing beats keeping it local!'' Ray Russell. 16 Byron Crescent, Dundee. More than just a policy mistake Sir, - Dr Gordon Hughes, Professor of Economics at Edinburgh University, has assessed the likely impact of wind power on household energy bills. He told the House of Commons Energy Committee that meeting our renewable energy generation targets would increase households' electricity bills by around 60% by 2020. The necessary investment in windfarms would amount to about £125 billion while the same electricity demand could be met from gas plants for a capital cost of £15 billion. According to Hughes: ''The average household electricity bill would increase from some £500 per year at 2010 prices to around £800 in 2020 if we rely on wind power.'' This huge investment in an expensive and inflexible technology that is not even very green will be worse than a simple policy mistake - it will be a major economic blunder Dr John Cameron, 10 Howard Place, St Andrews. Root our rogue cars overnight Sir, - Clark Cross (Letters, August 2, ''Who pays for travellers? We do, of course'') suggests as a solution to illegal camping a visit from HM Revenue and Customs inquiring about tax payments and vehicle registrations. As far as cars are concerned, I have suggested for years that the police could profitably introduce overnight checks on our streets. They now have access to databases listing which cars are licensed, insured and have a current MOT certificate. Such checks could winkle out all the tax and insurance dodgers and illegally-run cars could be either towed away at once or dealt with when the owners arrive to drive them away in the morning. The benefits would be enormous. Thousands and thousands of pounds in lost revenue recovered, side-streets cleared of illegally-run cars, traffic congestion relieved because of the absence of these pirate vehicles and, most important of all, the great improvement in road safety with unroadworthy vehicles (as so many of them are!) removed. Another plus would be that the travellers would not feel that they alone were being victimised! George K McMillan. 5 Mount Tabor Avenue, Perth. Meteor not the only jet Sir - Reference your article ''Aircraft will mark royal milestone'' (August 8), the Meteor was the only allied jet fighter to see combat in the Second World War. The Germans, of course, had several jet aircraft in service, or on trials, during the conflict. A. T. Geddie. 68 Carleton Avenue, Glenrothes.

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.

Perth & Kinross

Smart Parking deny issue with RingGo payment app after teacher caught out

June 19 2017

Smart Parking has been called upon to resolve a potential issue with a parking payment app that led to a teacher being caught out at a notorious Perth car park. The much-criticised private parking firm allows motorists to use an app, RingGo, as one of the options for paying to use the Kinnoull Street multi-storey car park. The app allows motorists to pay for parking either by using a location code, or by selecting their position on a map. However the position pins for Kinnoull Street multi-storey car park and Kinnoull Street itself appear on top of each other. Users selecting what appears to be a single pin are told they are at “Kinnoull Street” with the location not changing to “Kinnoull Street multi-storey” unless tapped for a second time. Stewart Digney, who teaches English at Perth Academy, said he had appealed a Smart Parking ticket three times but the firm insists the charge stands. The 29-year-old said: “As far as I was concerned, I had paid for parking at Kinnoull Street car park. It turns out there are two parking zones, both called Kinnoull Street, where the pins are on top of each other. “I hadn’t been able to see the location number anywhere in the car park so used the map – it said ‘Kinnoull Street’ so naturally I thought that was correct. There is no reason to think that wasn’t correct.   “I went back later to investigate and although there are lots of signs saying you must pay, there is one small RingGo number tucked away and you could easily walk past that. “I think that given there are two similarly named tags on the app then Smart Parking could make this much clearer. “I haven’t deliberately gone to do them out of any money, I’ve even offered to pay the £2 for parking but it’s an issue with the RingGo system and a lack of clarity. “If you are not aware there are two tags for two locations then you’ve pretty much got no chance. Smart Parking needs to make their RingGo code more prominent if they are offering that as a method of payment.” Pete Wishart, who has long campaigned against the firm, called on Smart Parking to fix the fault. He said: “This latest issue with RingGo, should have been easy enough to fix but yet again Smart Parking would rather issue ‘fines’ than deal with the inherent problems with their technology. Smart Parking must cancel any charges triggered by this fault. ‘People are paying for parking in good faith and are being hounded by this company and their debt collectors for a problem the company have so far refused to fix. “I would encourage people to continue to stay clear of this car park until its many problems are resolved, or until another parking operator comes along – whichever comes first.” A spokesman for Smart Parking said: “Ringo is a simple and straightforward app used by millions of motorists. Mr Digney accepts he did not pay to use our car park and that is why he was correctly issued a parking charge.” The Courier was unable to contact RingGo for comment.  

Angus & The Mearns

Meffan exhibition tells the story of Angus and the Great War

September 10 2014

The outbreak of the First World War and its effect in Angus is being marked in a new exhibition in Forfar. The exhibition uses iconic objects, artworks, poetry and slideshows to tell the history of life in the trenches, The Black Watch and of local recipients of the Victoria Cross. Visitors to the Meffan Museum and Art Gallery can also view a selection of war drawings by Sir Muirhead Bone, who was appointed Britain’s first official war artist in 1916. Photos by Kim Cessford.

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