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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...

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.

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

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.

News

Angry spat over future of Fife base RAF Leuchars

April 11 2011

A furious war of words has broken out in North East Fife, after Liberal Democrat candidate Iain Smith was accused of "blatant double standards." His SNP rival Rod Campbell hit out as the emotive issue of RAF Leuchars' future began to dominate the local campaign trail. Mr Campbell insisted the Lib Dem candidate had been "less than straight" with voters in a new campaign leaflet. "The latest Lib Dem leaflet tries to take credit for changes in taxation by reminding voters that the UK Government is a Tory/Lib Dem coalition," Mr Campbell said. "The changes in question were introduced by George Osborne in his recent Budget and Iain Smith seems happy in this case to be associated with the Conservatives in London. "However, right next to the article on taxation is one about the threat to RAF Leuchars. It posts Mr Smith as champion of the campaign to save the airbase. "Nowhere does this article recognise that it is the Lib Dem/Tory coalition that threatens Scottish defence facilities, not least RAF Leuchars. "When Iain Smith likes the actions of the London coalition, he claims credit for his party. "When it comes to RAF Leuchars, he pretends that he has nothing to do with Nick Clegg and the actions of the London government. However, Mr Smith was happy to laugh off the SNP missive. "This is typically laughable bluster from the SNP," he said. "Yes, thanks to the Liberal Democrats thousands of Fifers will pay no tax from this month and around 180,000 will have a tax cut and, yes, Sir Menzies Campbell MP and Ialong with members of the local community and the RAF Leuchars task forceare campaigning vigorously to save the base. "I am a campaigner for my community and RAF Leuchars is vital to our social fabric, local economy and defence of the UK. "The MoD have repeatedly said that no decisions have been made on the future of RAF bases, but that does not stop us from making the case for its retention. "Sadly, the SNP candidate has yet again undermined the efforts of those fighting hard to save the base."

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

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.

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.

Readers' letters

Hope he takes fight to European courts

January 2 2014

Sir, I refer to your article, Glenrothes man ready for fresh “bedroom tax” battle, December 24. I fully support Mr Nelson in this and the other people who have been put in this position. I hope he does go to the European Court and embarrasses the Government into rescinding this ignominious regulation. I find it incomprehensible that this Government of the “we’re all in it together” philosophy is penalising poor people for having an extra bedroom while giving a council tax rebate to owner-occupiers for under occupation. This council tax rebate is paid for by us all. It allows an individual to buy a three-bedroom house and offset his council tax because he is a sole occupier. Surely the same rules should apply to everyone? But this Tory Government makes its own subversive agenda. They crack down on people abusing the welfare system, which is fair enough, but seem to think it is perfectly OK for a member of the House of Lords to walk away with £3,000 a month to support his mouldering pile. In what way is this man different to anyone else on welfare? Well, for one thing, he has a well-paid job that he appears to be too damned idle to do. Unlike the lower paid workers who don’t earn enough to support themselves and their families. However, what do you expect, he is a lord. You don’t really expect him to work, do you? It would be interesting to hear the Scottish Tories’ view on this. Lindsay Johnston. The Gauldry. What is point of obstruction? Sir, Heading south by car out of Cupar has always needed careful driving. Traffic coming out of Tesco’s car park has to be watched carefully as have vehicles heading into Cupar from the Ceres road junction. Those hazards negotiated, the next hurdle is residents’ parked cars taking up one third of the road and leaving space in and out for two lanes of cars only. One bus, lorry or even large van heading either way and one lane has to stop. Once all this is safely passed the road is clear sorry was clear. Out of the blue for many motorists comes a traffic island stretching across half the road. While there are sunken drains and holes in the road all over the place this sturdy, well-built obstruction appeared as an obvious priority for the authorities. Why? If it is designed to slow down traffic on what was a formerly clear road it is a failure. What now happens is that traffic heading south either stops and then, when their route is clear, accelerates in a rush to get on with their journey or, if there is no oncoming traffic, rush to get past the obstruction before oncoming traffic builds up. Between repairing the road and building an unnecessary obstruction the sensible option is obvious . . . to everyone except the road authorities, it would seem. Ian Wheeler. Springfield, Fife. Extortionate short-haul fare Sir, Over the years a variety of reasons have been put forward to explain the gradual decline in passenger numbers using Dundee Airport. In fact, for a while there was almost a “head in the sand” attitude as to what has always been a root cause viz the absolutely extortionate fares being charged for the short-haul domestic routes on offer. This was recently highlighted in your article, Service ‘is preposterously expensive’, (December 24), which drew attention to the experience of Mr David McGovern who was recently quoted a fare of £650 for a return flight from Dundee to London City. I had a similar experience some time ago when required to rejoin my ship which was berthed at the Excel Centre in London. A flight from Dundee to London City was logistical perfection. I put this to the owners who were responsible for my travelling expenses and they concurred that this sounded ideal but requested that I obtain a fare quotation before booking. The fare quoted bore no resemblance to reality and I was promptly instructed to abandon the idea and book the shuttle from Edinburgh to Heathrow at a fraction of the cost. To put things into proper perspective here, the £650 fare quoted to Mr McGovern for his flight to London City actually buys you a return flight from Glasgow to Bangkok via Dubai with Emirates Airlines and includes some 15 hrs of free in-flight food and drink. Until Dundee Airport can come up with services offering competitive fares it is going nowhere. Roy R Russell. 1c Smithy Road, Balmullo. Seasonal sanctimony Sir, Few can have been surprised when a sanctimonious Vince Cable compared David Cameron to Enoch Powell because he voiced concern over the new immigrant flood. Mr Cable was supported by his posturing party leader Nick Clegg who grandly declared he would not tolerate any further curbs on EU immigration. The Lib Dem leader made the absurd claim that Tories want a “no-entry sign” on the cliffs of Dover and “German lawyers, Dutch accountantsand Finnish engineers expelled”. In fact, Mr Cameron’s real sin has been to reflect the views of Joe Public who, in the eyes of the metropolitan elite, is too stupid to have an opinion worthy of consideration. The tsunami will not trouble Mr Cable’s leafy Thameside constituency, but others already struggle with the immigrant impact on their schools, transport and health care. Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.

Readers' letters

November 28: Removal of this flight is a backward step

November 28 2012

Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, - On Sunday I enjoyed my last flight from Belfast to Dundee, as these flights are due to end on December 2. It seems ironic at a time of Dundee seeking UK City of Culture status that it has proved impossible to sustain air links with Belfast and Birmingham. I have taught students from Northern Ireland over many years and, universally, they regretted being unable to use this flight due to the high cost. This factor also deterred their parents and extended family members visiting more frequently. While this represents only anecdotal evidence, it begs the question how an airline serving an area with three universities heavily populated by NI students was unable or unwilling to exploit this most obvious of markets. The issue became quite stark for me when I attended a meeting in Belfast and my colleague from Birmingham paid less than half the fare I paid with the same airline. I accept that airline costs are perhaps more complex than a simple mind like mine can appreciate, but wish to add my voice to the many who will miss this service and see its removal as a backward step when we should be embracing and preparing for the very positive changes likely to derive from the V&A. Dr Brenda Gillies.12 Victoria Street,Newport. Care comes before profit Sir, - The council that slashed services for the elderly (in Fife) was led by one Peter Grant. He now has the audacity to criticise Labour's policy of creating a care village for older people. That plan is both interesting and admirable and relieves all of us from worrying about the privatisation of elderly care. A care village would operate with 12-15 bed areas and that is preferable to the vast, solely profit-making, granny farms that privatisation would have provided. Privatisation means concentrating on profits. Mr Grant claims care workers will all be low paid. Does he not know that virtually all care jobs in private homes only get the minimum wage level? Mr Grant and his SNP and Lib Dem colleagues increased home care charges from £4 a week to £11 an hour. On even one hour of care a day, that is more than 1800% of an increase. The shopping and pension collection was increased to £7 before it was completely cut. What a caring lot the SNP and Lib Dems are. Support services have to be available to enable caring families to keep loved ones in community settings for as long as possible. If that becomes impossible, then at least to ensure that residents in homes will be cared for and treated with respect. Allowing profit to be any sort of justification would be inhumane in the extreme. Choose privatisation and you get blatant profiteering. The essential support for care at home are the home carers, people who come out in all weather and give support and are always cheery and encouraging. I willingly admit to benefiting from their invaluable help. Agnes Joyce Smith. 4 Lime Grove,Methil,Leven. Tax taps could be turned off Sir, - The recent decision by the judges at the Rangers tax tribunal is an interesting one. If employers are to be allowed to reward employees with "loans", deposited off shore in tax havens, instead of by wages and salaries (taxed), then what about all employers and employees? I believe that a precedent has been set. Let us hope that HMRC pursues its appeal with vigour and that the UK Government urgently reviews tax laws, before the Treasury finds taps from the private sector being turned off legally. A T Geddie.68 Carleton Avenue,Glenrothes. Not under my control at all Sir, - Your piece on direct debits reminded me of a problem I had when I moved to a smaller house and wished to reduce my direct debit from my RBS account to Scottish Hydro Electric. I wrote to RBS to ask them to do this and was told the instruction had to come from Scottish Hydro Electric, not me. I had thought I was in control of my own finances. Garry Barnett.The Garden House,Campsie Hill,Guildtown,Perth. Decision is disgraceful Sir, - The decision by Rotherham's Labour-run social services to remove children from foster carers because they are members of UKIP is disgraceful. This is Britain, not some tinpot communist dictatorship. God forbid that the Labour Party in its present form ever runs this country again. Stuff their political correctness. George Aimer.82 Kinghorne Road,Dundee. How do they know this? Sir, - How does a council's social work service know which party someone is a member of? Does your local council have a record of the party of which you may be a member? Mike Scott-Hayward.Chairman UKIP Scotland.Sawmill House,Kemback Bridge,Fife. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL. Letters should be accompanied by an address and a daytime telephone number.

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