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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...


Adventurer David Hempleman-Adams to attempt Perth ascent again

January 10 2011

One of Britain's greatest living adventurers is gearing up for his second attempt to reach Perth, after heavy snow forced him to cancel his much-anticipated talk last month. David Hempleman-Adams the first person to reach the geographic and magnetic North and South Poles as well as climb the highest peaks in all seven continents is confident he will take to the stage at Perth Concert Hall on January 24. He is taking part in the Royal Scottish Geographical Society's Inspiring People programme. To coincide with the 100th anniversary of Captain Scott's ill-fated expedition to the South Pole, he will talk the audience through his book The Heart of the Great Alone. It features photographs which were taken in Antarctica by Herbert George Ponting and Frank Hurley. Presented to King George V, these images now form part of the Royal Photograph Collection. The event starts at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £8 for adults, and are free for under-18s, students and RSGS members.


Tributes paid to ‘brave’ MSP Brian Adam

May 3 2013

The late MSP Brian Adam has been praised by leaders from across the political divide for his contribution to Scottish politics and his bravery in the face of illness. Mr Adam, who was 64, died at home in Aberdeen last Thursday following a long battle with cancer. Party leaders and Holyrood’s presiding officer, Tricia Marwick, paid tribute to the SNP member for Aberdeen Donside during a special motion of condolence led by First Minister Alex Salmond. Mr Adam’s wife Dorothy,children Neil, Jamie, Sarah, David and Alan, and other family members attended ahead of his funeral, to be held in Aberdeen on Friday. Ms Marwick said: “Like many others in the chamber I treasured Brian Adam both as a friend and as a colleague. Brian was admired across the Parliament because of what lay at his core he was simply a good and decent man.”

Perth & Kinross

Famous explorer set to inspire with Perth talk

February 13 2017

A world-famous explorer is to be honoured in Perth for his achievements. Sir David Hempleman-Adams, vice president of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, will be in the city on Tuesday to deliver the Perth-based society’s latest Inspiring People talk. Speaking in the Salutation Hotel,  the explorer will be regaling audiences about his latest adventure, The Polar Ocean Challenge, which saw him and a hand-picked crew succeed in an attempt to circumnavigate the North Pole during a single Arctic summer. As well as adding to Sir David’s list of exploration achievements The Polar Ocean Challenge also made a clear statement about the issue of climate change. The challenge saw him and his crew face swathes of pack ice as they sailed through both the infamous north east and north west passages, two marine channels once totally impassable due to ice, which have increasingly opened up due to climate change and warmer weather in recent years. “In my travels to the North Pole and ice caps I've seen up close the changes that are happening there, and it's not good,” he said. After his talk Sir David will receive his Scottish Geographical Medal which is one of the highest honours awarded by the RSGS. The medal is given to those who have shown great commitment and service to geography on an international stage, and has previously been described as the Nobel Prize for Scottish Geography. Sir David will be awarded the medal for his lifelong commitments to furthering understanding of the planet and geography through the means of exploration. Sir David said: “It means a lot to me being the vice president of RSGS. The society has a worldwide reputation, and has grown from strength to strength since my first visit. I think it’s a great organisation that inspires people of all ages. “To get The Scottish Geographical Medal is a wonderful honour. To receive this from your peer group is very special indeed.”

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

Farming news

SNP handling of new beef scheme attacked

November 10 2016

The Scottish Government's own efficiency has been called into question over the handling of the new £45million Beef Efficiency Scheme (BES). An estimated 180,000 beef cows from 2000 Scottish farmers have been enrolled in the new five-year  scheme which aims to improve the efficiency and quality of the beef herd and help producers increase the genetic value of their stock. But months after signing up for the scheme, farmers are still waiting to be supplied with special tags to meet the rules which call for 'tissue tagging' of 20% of cattle. And now NFU Scotland's livestock chairman Charlie Adam says farmers' confidence in the scheme is being affected and has called for the rules to be adjusted. The union has also urged the Scottish Government to update all scheme applicants on progress with BES and let them know when the necessary tags will arrive. “If tag delays cannot be resolved in the immediate future, then the Scottish Government should recognise the problem and make the tissue tagging element voluntary for 2016. This will allow those who can take samples from the animals that they still own to do so,"  said Mr Adam. “Applicants to this important scheme, worth £45 million to the industry, have every right to know now, and in detail, what they are expected to do to fulfil their BES obligations and Scottish Government must get back on the front foot in delivering the scheme.” Mr Adam added that it was frustrating for the farmers who have already housed and handled their cattle for the winter as many of those animals were by now located in overwintering accommodation that can be some distance from home farms. Shadow Rural Economy secretary, Peter Chapman MSP claimed it was impossible for farmers to sell store cattle in the autumn sales until they were told which animals need tagged and were sent  the tags to do the job. He added: "This will create huge cash flow and logistic problems for farmers who normally sell calves at this time – this is the SNP letting farmers down yet again.” A Scottish Government spokesman said work was under way to rectify the problem and a timetable was expected by the end of the week. He added: "It is not necessary for farmers to hold off from selling their animals. "We will ensure that the sampling regime accommodates those farmers who have sold their calves and there will be no penalties for those whoo have. It may mean that some farmers will have a higher rate of sampling next year." nnicolson@thecourier.co.uk      

Scottish Cup

Preston Athletic 0 Montrose 3: Hegarty relieved to see Montrose through

October 24 2016

Montrose boss Paul Hegarty was delighted his side avoided a Scottish Cup shock as the Gable Endies won away at Preston Athletic. Three second-half goals from Gary Fraser, Chris Templeman and Jonny Court saw the Angus side through, with the Lowland League outfit finishing with eight men. Hegarty said: “The problem is when you have so many chances you say to yourself it’s not going to be your day. We had at least eight or nine chances and you’re probably talking about maybe two or three gilt-edged chances. “Even when it was 2-0 I wasn’t confident we would see the game out because they started to put men on and put men up and obviously put us under a wee bit of pressure but the bottom line is we’re through and I’m delighted.” Montrose quickly took control of the game with striker Templeman’s height causing problems for the home defence. Their first big chance came when Templeman rose to meet a long-range free-kick and headed just past the post. Fraser was next to test home goalkeeper Craig Pennycuick, with his strong header pushed just wide. He came even closer minutes later as he got on the end of a through ball to lob the keeper but it was cleared off the line. On the stroke of half-time Athletic defender Reece Cochrane headed the ball on to his own bar from a Montrose corner as the visitors continued to dominate. Preston were awarded a penalty straight after the restart following a push in the box but Montrose keeper Allan Fleming saved Kieran McWalter’s effort. Three minutes later Montrose won a penalty of their own. Fraser sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to make it 1-0. Templeman doubled the lead with a low, left-footed volley from outside the box which trickled in following a deflection. Court added a third goal when an awkward free-kick landed at his feet and left him the simple task of tapping the ball into the net. In stoppage time Athletic were reduced to nine men following red cards for Ross Colquhoun and Daniel O’Rourke. A third red card for the home side was shown to Gavin Stevenson after the final whistle.

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.

Perth & Kinross

World famous explorer Sir David Hempleman-Adams ‘saddened’ by melting sea ice in Arctic

February 16 2017

In an exclusive interview in Perth, world famous adventurer Sir David Hempleman-Adams tells Michael Alexander why he is calling on the world to wake-up to the impact of climate change. From becoming the first person to trek solo to the Magnetic North and Geographic South Poles, to becoming the first person to fly a balloon over the Andes, the 20+ expeditions embarked upon by world famous British explorer Sir David Hempleman-Adams over the past 37 years read like a who’s who of human endeavour. Yet for the first time in his career, Sir David, 60, was saddened when he successfully completed his latest expedition – circumnavigation of the Arctic to highlight the impact of global-warming on polar ice sheets – because it proved him right about the world’s drastically changing climate. “In my travels to the North Pole and ice caps I've seen up close the changes that are happening there. And it's not good,” he explained in an exclusive interview with The Courier during a visit to Perth. “I’ve been very lucky over the years in being able to travel and in a selfish way I’ve been very lucky in being able to do the things that I’ve wanted to do. “But I think as I’ve got older it’s time to give a little bit back. “What I want to do is educate youngsters because I think my generation have messed up the world and it’s the next generation that’s going to have to put up with it.” Sir David’s Polar Ocean Challenge, which took place over four months between last June and October, saw him and a hand-picked crew succeed in an attempt to circumnavigate the North Pole during a single Arctic summer. Sailing an Irish- built 48 feet boat with aluminium retractable keel, the 13,500 mile voyage, which set off from Bristol via the Russian port city of Murmansk, faced swathes of pack ice as they sailed through both the infamous North East and North West passages - two marine channels once totally impassable due to ice -which have increasingly opened up due to climate change and warmer weather in recent years. Sir David, vice president of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) regaled an audience about his adventure when he gave an ‘Inspiring People’ talk for the society in Perth on Tuesday night. But speaking with The Courier at RSGS HQ in Perth, he revealed his “sadness” at the harm being caused to the planet and the climate change already affecting communities throughout the Arctic region. “I hear all the time about the naysayers who say there’s ‘no such thing as climate change’,” he explained. “They say ‘you always get these cycles’ – and they are absolutely right of course. Greenland was once green for example. But it normally takes 2000 years for those cycles to develop. “What I’ve seen in my lifetime, from the first time I went to the Arctic in 1982, is one third less pack ice. “We are seeing a massive change very very quickly and these Arctic communities are like the canary in the coal mine – they are seeing it before anyone else. “Their hunting and gathering way of life has changed because the migration routes for fish and birds are changing. Polar bears and musk ox are struggling. The permafrost is slowly melting right across Siberia and impacting on roads and infrastructure. “I’ve heard stories of many hunters being lost on their snowmobiles because they’ve gone straight through ice. It’s just the start of a big problem that will continue affecting the world.” Sir David set up an educational charity called Wicked Weather which visits schools and which blogged live reports from the Arctic region. Admitting he is “not a scientist”, he deliberately steers clear of politics and instead “states factually what is happening”. But despite the widespread evidence, he gets increasingly frustrated about the general lack of action by government – and is particularly bemused by the denying attitude taken by US president Donald Trump. He said: “It’s a huge problem. I don’t know quite why politicians haven’t grasped this. I’m not sure if it’s because they don’t want to believe it or it’s a vote loser. “It is a hard thing when youngsters say ‘what can I do about it?’ “We could become the greenest nation in the world, with the right investment.  But I was told if we turn off the whole of the UK for a whole year, that’s one day power in China. How do you get that across to a youngster? “That’s why I’m slightly frustrated about Trump and the rest of his advisors. I’m hoping that some of the brilliant brains they’ve got in America will sit him down and say ‘hold on a minute, this is real!’ - because you just can’t get away from the evidence.” Sir David was presented on Tuesday night with the prestigious Scottish Geographical Medal – the ‘Nobel Prize’ for Scottish Geography which honoured his lifelong commitment to furthering our understanding of the planet. He added: “To get The Scottish Geographical Medal is a wonderful honour. To receive this from your peer group is very special indeed”.

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.