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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Angus & The Mearns

Busy New York programme for piper-to-the-stars Craig Weir

April 3 2015

An Angus piper who played for rock legends Queen and the Dalai Lama will be a guest of honour at New York’s Tartan Week celebrations. Craig Weir from Carnoustie will make a big din for the Big Yin at a dinner held for comedian Billy Connolly, among a host of events next week. He will also play a tribute to one of his piping heroes at the 9/11 Memorial and, for the first time, pipe a commissioned piece in memory of Scots immigrants at Ellis Island. The 21-year-old is flying over on Tuesday as an ambassador for World Peace Tartan. After talking to Bronx and Manhattan schools about the instrument, Mr Weir will play as a guest with former Simple Minds drummer Mike Ogletree as part of a Glasgow Caledonian University event. And after a lunchtime recital for the American Scottish Foundation at Bryant Park, he will play at the National Trust for Scotland USA gala dinner in honour of Scots comic Connolly. On Friday he will play a selection at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center. “I plan to play pieces including The Sleeping Tune by Gordon Duncan,” he said. “He was a legendary piper one of my idols who died in 2005. “This is a lament he wrote, which is beautiful and I believe it will reflect the mood of the day. I expect that will send a real shiver up my spine and I already have a lump in my throat when I think about it.” On April 12, Craig’s visit will conclude with the world premiere of his composition for the event, The Immigrant’s Lament, as the centrepiece of Tartan Day on Ellis Island the largest celebration of its kind in the world. “It seems an appropriate piece to play at the spot where so many Scots landed on their arrival in the USA,” he said. Craig played for the Dalai Lama when he visited Dundee in 2012, piped Happy Birthday for Mohandas Gandhi’s grandson, Arun, over Skype last year, and has played for the Queen, TV personality Lorraine Kelly, and tennis star Andy Murray at his graduation. Last year he was asked to play the pipes at Queen’s world tour gig at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow. Craig is Pipe Sergeant of the Arbroath Royal British Legion Pipe Band and fronts four-piece Celtic rock band Gleadhraich, whose latest EP, Where We’re From, is available on iTunes.

Angus & The Mearns

Celebrities give Craig’s band a boost along the Highland Road

March 25 2017

Stars of stage and screen have turned out to give a new Tayside band a hand up the road with their first single. Most musicians ask friends for help when they record their first tunes. So when Tayside piper Craig Weir decided to start his new band, Craig Weir & The Cabalistic Cavalry, he did just that. Except he could call on stars such as Queen guitarist Brian May, Kyle Falconer of The View, Dundee’s queen of daytime telly Lorraine Kelly, and stage star Alan Kelly. Along with names such as Les McKeown of The Bay City Rollers and ex-Libertine Pete Doherty, they each read a line from a poem to start and end the track. https://youtu.be/4X_mdHhUkr0 The Highland Road, released on Sunday, is the first track from the band, which the 23-year-old began as a side project from his Celtic rock band Gleadhraich. It begins and ends with a poem written by the Dundee primary school teacher and Canadian friend Chris Brown, inspired by a road trip they took in Canada last year. “It’s based on a highway in Maxville, Ontario called Highland Road,” Craig said. “Driving along it blew my mind and gave me this vision of Scotland being the centre of the creative universe. “That led to my decision to get a variety of musicians and celebrities I’ve performed with around the world to contribute their voices to the track to express their love for Scotland.” Comedian Fred MacAulay, AC/DC musician Mark Evans, 2011 Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai McDowall, and 2013 X Factor semi-finalist Nicky McDonald also feature. Craig took up bagpipes at the age of eight and has played with Queen, the Bay City Rollers, and The Libertines, has performed for the Dalai Lama and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and been involved in major events from New York Tartan Week to the MOBO Awards. Highland Road will be available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. The band will launch their live shows with John Hassall & The April Rainers at The Green Room, Perth on May 12, and The Record Factory, Glasgow on May 13. Celebs happy to take part Talking about his part in the single, Brian May said: “I was happy to pour a little of my Scottish blood into this epic.” Lorraine Kelly said: “I was delighted to take part in this project and hearing it all together gave me goose bumps. “It’s very atmospheric and embodies the spirit of Scotland.” Alan Cumming added: “It’s beautiful — really moving and I love all the different voices.”  

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

Angus & The Mearns

Argentine family ‘deeply grateful’ after Arbroath marine sends Battle of Two Sisters relic back where it belongs

October 30 2015

The identity tag of a fallen Argentine soldier that lay in a former Angus Marine’s drawer for 33 years has been returned to his family. Graham Ellis, from Kirkton of Auchterhouse, removed the tag from the body of Assistant Sergeant Ramon Gumersindo Acosta on the battlefield in the Falkland Islands in 1982. Acosta was killed by a mortar blast following the Battle of Two Sisters, which took place over two days in June as British forces advanced toward Port Stanley. A 20-year-old member of Arbroath-based 45 Commando at the time, Mr Ellis and his unit were ordered to remove the tags from the dead bodies for identification by the Red Cross. Mr Ellis placed the tag in his pocket and only discovered it on his return to Britain. It remained in a drawer until a comrade of Mr Acosta’s saw an article on this website about Mr Ellis’s attempts to return it to the fallen soldier’s family. It was sent back to Argentina and is now with his daughter, with plans for a formal presentation by the Argentine government to take place in the near future. Mr Ellis said he was “very pleased”, while a former comrade of Mr Acosta said the family were “deeply grateful” to Mr Ellis and The Courier. Acosta was a national hero and a street bears his name in his native town of Jess Mara. He had written a letter to his five-year-old son, Diego, eight days before he died. It read: “I write from my position to tell you that two days ago we were in a helicopter which was bombed, the helicopter fell and caught fire, killing several colleagues of mine but I was saved and am now awaiting the final attack. “I saved three comrades from the flames. I tell you so you know you have a father you can be proud of and want you to keep this letter as a document if I do not return: and if I go back tomorrow, when we’re together I will read it at home.”

Angus & The Mearns

Wrong officers were sent to execute arrest, former PC’s trial told

February 21 2014

A Tayside police officer accused of assaulting a suspect inside a tent should never have been put in that situation, a court has heard. Detective Constable Craig Kelly said specialist officers with “better training and better equipment” should have been sent to arrest the man they had been warned had a history of violence. Mr Kelly was giving evidence during the trial of Dean Miller, who denies assaulting Anthony Davies inside a tent at Seaton Caravan Park in Arbroath on June 18 2010. Mr Kelly told the court that he, Miller and a third officer, Gareth Irons, were sent into the tent to arrest Davies after a briefing that emphasised the suspect’s violent nature. He recalled: “We were briefed that there were two males from Liverpool who had been involved in an armed robbery and that they had fled (to Scotland) because they were wanted by police. “We were told these males may be violent and have access to weapons.” He said Davies was sleeping when they entered the tent and he attempted to place handcuffs on him where a struggle then took place. “As soon as I placed a cuff on his right hand, he woke up and put both arms inside the sleeping bag,” he continued. “Immediately when the punch landed Davies took his arms out of the sleeping bag and brought them to his face to defend himself. We were then able to handcuff him and bring him under control.” The court heard an axe was later found under the sleeping bag. Under cross examination Mark Stewart QC asked whether in retrospect it was the most “clever or sensible” decision to send the officers to make the arrests, rather than specialist officers, given the briefing that emphasised their violent nature. Mr Kelly replied: “In my opinion, I don’t think we should have been sent to make the arrests.” Miller, 29, who is no longer a police officer, denies assaulting Davies by repeatedly punching him on the face and has lodged a special defence of self-defence. The Crown is no longer seeking a conviction that Miller attempted to pervert the course of justice by omitting details of the assault in his police report. The trial, heard in front of Sheriff Gregor Murray, continues next month.

Other sports

Fife boxer Connor Law set for tough test

January 17 2015

Fife fighter Connor Law will be handed a tough test of his credentials in his second professional outing later this month, Courier Sport has learned. The Kelty super welterweight will take on the vastly experienced William Warburton at the St Andrew’s Sporting Club’s Burns Night show in Glasgow on Monday, January 26, as he seeks to make a name for himself in the sport. And his trainer Stevie McGuire Senior admitted yesterday that it is a gamble to throw Law into the ring against a man who has only been stopped twice in 89 fights. Twenty-seven-year-old Warburton may have only won 14 and drawn five of those bouts, but the Lancashire lad has taken some notable scalps including current Scottish welterweight champion Craig Kelly. “Warburton’s experienced and he’s had one or two big shocks in his career so some might see it as a risk,” McGuire said. “But we feel that Connor has to go this way. “If you keep feeding people dummies, they get into that dummy mode, and that’s not what we want for Connor. “To me, Connor will beat Warburton if he gets on him but if he sits back then Warburton will come for him. “It could be a difficult fight, but the way Connor’s sparring he can get on top of anybody and it’ll be a good name to have if he can beat him.” Law, who narrowly missed out on a spot at the Commonwealth Games, comfortably won his first pro fight against Aaron Robinson in November and will be keen to build on that performance. If he can see off Warburton, McGuire hopes his charge will have further fights at Paisley’s Lagoon Centre in February and in Fife in March in a hectic start to the year. “It’s pointless just sitting back these days, you have to try and climb up the ladder quickly,” McGuire concluded. Meanwhile, McGuire’s Glenrothes Boxing Club will host a show at the town’s Gilvenbank Hotel on Sunday, January 25. A team of 10 fighters will fly over from Cyprus to compete against local fighters, with the likes of Dundee’s middleweight Paul Kean, Glenrothes welterweights Ryan McKelvie and Craig Morgan, and middleweight Paul Clark all expected to be on the bill. Tickets are priced £35 and include a four-course meal, with the first bout due to start at 2.15pm.

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Remains found in sea off Arbroath belonged to Aberdeen woman Kelli Ferris

April 18 2015

Human remains found off the Angus coast belonged to Aberdeen woman Kelli Ferris. The 40-year-old was last seen in her home city last September. A Kirkcaldy-registered fishing vessel made the grim discovery of an undisclosed body part while netting in the North Sea, around seven miles from Arbroath, earlier this month. Police today confirmed the remains belonged to Ms Ferris. A spokesman said: “Kelli Ferris was reported missing on September 17 2014 after last being seen at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary by a family member on September 9. “Following Kelli’s disappearance an extensive investigation and search operation was conducted over a number of weeks which included the use of specialist police dogs and search teams.” Detective Chief Inspector David Hadden said: “We have now been able to identify the remains found off the coast of Arbroath on Monday 6 April 2015 as Kelli Ferris. “A major search operation was carried out following Kelli’s disappearance and enquiries have not revealed any suspicious circumstances. “We hope this identification gives Kelli’s family some form of closure and our thoughts are with her family at this time.” Kelli's mother Catherine Sandison had already said she feared the worst, and described her daughter's disappearance as like "a nightmare".


Hollywood sweetheart wowing Stonehaven shoppers

August 31 2011

A striking piece of eye candy is tempting visitors at a Stonehaven sweetie shop. Giulianotti's on Evan Street took delivery of a four-foot-square portrait of screen siren Marilyn Monroe made of thousands of jelly beans. It has been loaned to the 100-year-old sweetshop by the Jelly Belly Company and will be on show there until mid-September. It will be used to raise funds for the Stonehaven Town Hall Trust in their efforts to improve and upgrade the hall, with shoppers being given the chance to enter a competition to guess how many jelly beans make up Marilyn. Shop assistants Ellen Dandie (left) and Rachael Craig.