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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...

Perth & Kinross

Millais painting sells for £600,000 at auction

July 4 2016

A 150-year-old oil painting by Sir John Everett Millais has sold for £602,500 at auction. The picture, titled: The Violet’s Message, was painted by Millais in 1854 during a particularly emotional period in his life. In 1853 ,while holidaying in the Scottish Highlands with art critic John Ruskin and wife, Perth’s Effie Gray, Millais fell in love with Effie and later eloped with her. They married, on July 3, 1855,at Effie’s parents’ Perth home, Bowerswell House, lived at nearby Annat Lodge and went on to have eight children – five of whom were born in Perthshire. Perth and Kinross Council owns three Millais oil paintings, including a picture, titled : Portrait Of Effie. From Perthshire, Millais went on to become one of Britain’s most famous and admired Victorian artists, perhaps best known for his 1886 painting, Bubbles – which was bought by A and F Pears and mass produced as an advertisement for their soap.

Perth & Kinross

New light on scandal that rocked Victorian Perth society

October 29 2013

A love triangle which was played out in Perth and scandalised Victorian society is being retold in a new book and a forthcoming film. The story of Effie Gray, wife of the 19th Century’s greatest art historian and critic, John Ruskin, their repressed relationship and her subsequent affair with Pre-Raphaelite painter Sir John Everett Millais still captures the public imagination. Reflecting that enduring interest is Emma Thompson who has written and stars in a film which is due to be released next year telling the tale which began with their ill-fated marriage in Bowerswell House in Perth. After six unhappy years of marriage the union was annulled on the grounds that Gray was still a virgin, leaving her free to be with Millais. The film has an all-star cast including Dakota Fanning, Greg Wise, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Derek Jacobi, Robbie Coltrane, Tom Sturridge, James Fox and David Suchet. A new book on the union, Marriage of Inconvenience, has also just been published. Author Robert Brownwell spent 12 years researching his book and it can lay claim to being the last word on the story. He re-examines every pertinent document from diaries and personal letters, many printed in full for the first time, to contemporary legal papers and offers a new and carefully weighted interpretation of the background, developing drama and ultimate conclusion of one of the century’s most fascinating scandals. “A great deal of the book is set in Scotland, and even more particularly in Perth since both Ruskin and his wife came from Perth families, on his side marked with tragedy, on hers with the shadow of bankruptcy from the effects of the speculative fever that apparently reigned in Perth at the time,” said Alexander Fyjis-Walker of publisher, Pallas Athene. “They were married in a house that still stands and which saw its fairshare of drama, including his grandfather’s suicide. “The disastrous wedding night was at Blair Atholl and the marriage came to its ultimate end in the Trossachs, but Effie returned repeatedly to her Perth family and indeed is buried in Kinnoull.” The book asks whose interests were helped by turning an intensely private tragedy into a national scandal. Books, plays, television series, an opera and films have all shown Effie taking her destiny in her own hands and breaking free of a repressed and repressive husband. In Marriage of Inconvenience, Robert Brownwell sheds new light on the hitherto accepted story. According to the publisher, the surprising truth that emerges is no less human, and no less revealing about the Victorians than the myths, and provides a compelling insight into what relationships, family and money really mean.

Perth & Kinross

Artist’s love story still captures the imagination

July 5 2016

A painting by an artist whose love life scandalised Victorian Perth which originally sold for 60 guineas has made more than £600,000 at auction. The 150 year old oil painting by Sir John Everett Millais , who married a Perth woman after they eloped and who lived and worked in Perth for several years after his marriage, came under the hammer at Christie’s in London. Entitled The Violet’s Message, it was painted by Millais in 1854 during a particularly emotional period in his  life. It was in 1853 ,while holidaying in the Scottish Highlands with art critic John Ruskin and wife, Perth’s Effie Gray, Millais fell in love with Effie and later eloped with her. They married on July 3 1855 at Effie’s parents’ Perth home, Bowerswell House, lived at nearby Annat Lodge, and went on to have eight children, five of whom were born in Perthshire. The love triangle the couple were involved in continues to intrigue and was recently the subject of the film Effie which was written by Emma Thompson and starred Dakota Fanning who won praise for her performance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BLzK1z0EII Perth and Kinross Council owns three Millais oil paintings, including the picture, Portrait Of Effie. The Violet’s Message sold for £602,500 at Christie’s and it was at the same auction house that the picture made 60 guineas in April 1879. From Perthshire, Millais went on to become one of Britain’s most famous and admired Victorian artists, perhaps best known for his 1886 painting, Bubbles,which was bought by A and F Pears and mass-produced as an advertisement for their soap. Millais’s admirers include multi-millionaire Cats, Evita and The Phantom Of The Opera composer,Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, 68,  who once described Millais as “the Mozart of fine art” and who is such a fan of Millais’ work that he owns nine of his oil paintings.

Perth & Kinross

‘Amazing Effie’ Aberfeldy woman goes white water rafting for 90th birthday

June 21 2011

A fearless Aberfeldy woman has fulfilled her 90th birthday wish but it was no sedate family party or quiet day in with friends. Nerveless nonagenarian Effie Morrison plummeted headlong through the white water rapids on the River Tay in a display of bravado which would make lesser women tremble. What made her feat all the more remarkable is Effie, who celebrates her birthday today, is registered blind, having suffered macular degeneration for 14 years. Her daredevil bid to conquer the 20mph rapids raised cash for Perth and Kinross Society for the Blind, of which she has been a user for many years. Edinburgh-born Effie, who has lived in Perthshire for 60 years, said, "When I heard about a woman on TV doing white water rafting I thought I would quite like to do that. "It was absolutely fantastic and I would do it again maybe not tomorrow, but definitely some time." Effie was met at the end of her 90-minute journey from Dunolly to Grandtully by Jan Williamson of the society with a present of champagne and flowers. She said, "Effie has been coming to us for a number of years now and she's very popular we've called her 'amazing Effie'. It's a fantastic thing she's done for us." In her younger years Effie was a balloon girl, a sergeant in the WAAF for five years during the war dealing with barrage balloons all over England.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Perth & Kinross

Fears dog missing from Perthshire home may have been stolen

July 16 2014

A missing Perthshire dog may have been stolen, the owners now fear. Despite a reward being offered by Helen Murray Threipland of Fingask Castle, Rait, in an effort to trace her two-year-old English springer spaniel Effie, there has been no news. A call was made to the castle on Monday July 7 saying the dog had been found near the A90, but there has been no further contact. Reports that the much-loved pet may have been taken by three people in a white transit van have been passed on to the police who are investigating. They were described as a girl with tattoos and two men in their 20s with dark/black hair. “Anyone who has lost a dog you will know what a horrible experience it is,” said Mrs Murray Threipland. “Please can I ask everyone to keep a look for anyone with a dog like Effie or if you see anyone selling a dog like Effie on any selling pages.” Anyone with information on Effie’s whereabouts should contact Police Scotland on 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the owner on 01821 670777 line 5 or line 1.

Perth & Kinross

Stolen dog’s return is the perfect birthday present for owner

July 31 2014

A springer spaniel stolen from her Perthshire home has been reunited with her owners thanks to social media. Effie was unwittingly bought by a Fife man after being taken from outside Fingask Castle. After becoming suspicious that his new pet may have been filched from her rightful family, he then spotted an appeal for the petite pooch on Facebook. Now three weeks after she was taken, the two-year-old bitch is happy at home after the man made the “heartbreaking” decision to hand her back. Owner Helen Murray Threipland, who was celebrating her birthday on Wednesday, said her children Sacha, Beatrice and Peter were delighted to have Effie home. “They are thrilled to have her back,” she said. “And it couldn’t have been a better birthday present for me. She’s a member of our family.” She said the man who bought Effie had originally gone to look at a car for sale in Dundee. “He was buying a car and he saw the man had a springer spaniel in his vehicle. He told him he’d just lost one. “The man said he could buy that one for £350 and that she was seven months old. He thought this was too much and paid £300. “He had her for four or five days before he realised. He thought she might be a stolen dog because she wasn’t responding to the name the man had given for her, which was Lady. “He then saw her on Facebook.” Mrs Murray Threipland said without the internet appeals it was doubtful whether they would have got Effie back. “That’s the wonderful thing about social media,” she said. “Otherwise they (the man’s family) would have had no idea and I’d have lost her forever. “They were so wonderful and honest to have returned her. She had settled in and was happy. “They had already fallen in love with her and it was heartbreaking for them to lose her their dog had recently died and they were thrilled to have her.” Mrs Murray Threipland thanked the many people online who tried to help find Effie. “So many people have been looking for her all over the place,” she said. It is believed Effie was taken by three people in a white Transit van after being found near the A90 on July 7. Using the number etched on Effie’s collar, they called the castle to ask the dog’s name before spiriting her away. They were described as a girl with tattoos and two men in their 20s with dark/black hair. Police Scotland is continuing to investigate the theft.

Business news

Gin Bothy moves into European marketplace

April 19 2018

An Angus spirit maker has doubled its staff as it starts to export to Europe for the first time. Kirriemuir-based The Gin Bothy sent a “significant” order to Denmark this month and is also eyeing the German market. Owner Kim Cameron said the firm had taken on four additional members of staff and increased its number of bottling days to complete their first international sale. She said: “At a show in Glasgow we met agents from Denmark and Germany and sent samples expecting a small order. “The Denmark order was a significant order, far more than expected and across the range. “I’ve taken on four new part-time members of staff in the past week, bringing our staff number to eight, to have more hands on deck. It means I can concentrate on the production.” At the end of last year, The Gin Bothy was awarded a £70,000 Scottish EDGE business growth award which will be used to increase production capacity. “I hadn’t planned to export until 2020 but, prior to Brexit, I think we have to start establishing links ahead of the unknown,” Kim added. “We are meeting with a distributor in Germany at the start of May. He has over 200 sites there. “Although we are starting to export, we are still very focused on Scotland and still enjoy doing farmer’s markets and other events here.” Meanwhile The Gin Bothy is one of several Tayside and Fife firms that have attended the Food and Drink Expo at the NEC in Birmingham. More than 550 companies exhibited at the three day trade exhibition – the largest of its kind in the UK – which concluded yesterday. Among the local firms at the show were Cairn o’Mohr, Lindores Abbey Distillery, St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese, Strathearn Distillery, McIntosh of Strathmore, Summer Harvest Oils, Tay Spirits, The Buffalo Farm. Sandy Gray, who runs the family businesses Aberfeldy Oatmeal and Sarah Gray’s Preserves, said: “We’ve picked up some good contacts at the show. “We would like to increase our sales south of the border so the show has been useful. “We’ve also just started exporting to Germany. We are looking to invest in the business to have more production capabilities.”