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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…

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.

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

Family Matters

Euan’s Guide offers new horizons for those affected by disabilities

January 2 2017

When Euan MacDonald, now 42, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2003, he didn’t sit round feeling sorry for himself. Instead, he returned to Edinburgh from London to be with his family and set about fundraising for MND research. Three years later, the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND research was established. “My family and I helped to set up Speak:Unique which helps people retain one of their most personal features: their voice,” says Euan proudly. And now, along with his sister Kiki, he is the co-founder of Euan’s Guide, a disabled access review website and app. When he became a wheelchair user six years ago, he discovered how difficult it could be to find accessible places to go, even if it was just for a coffee with friends. “This meant there was always a degree of uncertainty when I visited new places. Would I be able to get in? Would there be an accessible toilet? Those kinds of things became frustrating, especially when I just wanted to get on with everyday life,” he explains. Euan had some go-to places that soon became favourites because he knew he could access them. That’s when he realised that other disabled people would also have their own reliable shops, cafes and bars that he probably didn’t know about – but would like to. This idea became Euan’s Guide, a place where disabled people, their families and friends could share and discover accessible places online. “Euan’s Guide isn’t just for wheelchair users, and people can review anywhere they like, whether the venue is listed on Euan’s Guide or not! We’ve had lots of good reviews for Homelands Trust in Leven and The Rings in Cupar (self-catering cottages for those affected by disability) proving to be popular, Inveralmond Brewery received a five-star review; and The McManus in Dundee has had reviews praising its good layout and wide corridors.” The website is easy to navigate: you can filter results based on what’s important to you, whether that be a changing places toilet, induction loops, accessible parking or a hoist. www.euansguide.com clindsay@thecourier.co.uk Did you know…? Motor neurone disease (MND) is a progressive disease that attacks the motor neurones, or nerves, in the brain and spinal cord. This means messages gradually stop reaching muscles, which leads to weakness and wasting. MND can affect how you walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe. However, not all symptoms necessarily happen to everyone and it is unlikely they will all develop at the same time, or in any specific order.. Although there is currently no cure for MND, symptoms can be managed to help achieve the best possible quality of life. Motor neurone disease kills a third of people within a year and more than half within two years of diagnosis. It affects up to 5,000 adults in the UK at any one time. A person’s lifetime risk of developing MND is up to 1 in 300. That’s one person in an average size cinema. Although MND attacks the nerves that control movement so muscles no longer work, it does not usually affect the senses such as sight, sound, feeling etc.

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.

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

Angus & The Mearns

Young cyclist going through the pane barrier for school greenhouse

April 16 2015

A Mearns youngster is getting on his bike in a bid to raise enough money to replace his school’s greenhouse. Euan Dickson, 8, who attends Fettercairn Primary School, has decided to compete in the Kinross Family Cycle ride on April 26, with his dad Allan. They will be tackling the Gold Course, which is 13 miles, long and Euan is asking people to guess how long it will take him to cycle the course to raise money. Entry is £1 for a go or more if people wish to be extra generous with a prize of £10 for the person who can correctly guess the closest to his time of completion. Fettercairn Primary School had a greenhouse kindly donated to it by Beechwood Services near Fourdon, but unfortunately it was damaged beyond repair in the winter storms. Mum Arlene said: “The greenhouse was used so much as the school has a gardening group. They used it for growing their own vegetables to sell to raise money and it also helped the pupils learn about growing plants and looking after things. “The greenhouse is so very sadly missed by pupils, staff and parents and we have had quotes from a few local companies. “It would be about £380 for a new one which would be hardy enough to withstand the lovely weather we in have in Scotland. “Euan is really getting into cycling, just like his dad, and this will be his first cycling event so he decided to see if he could raise some money for a new greenhouse. “Euan is taking on the hardest route, the Gold Route, which is 13 miles. Allan will be doing the Kinross Cycle again this year on April 25 and cycling 88.6m before cycling the next day.” Euan’s challenge takes place a day before his 9th birthday. Dad Allan last year took part in a charity ride in London for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association. Allan’s brother was in the army and saw several of his colleagues injured, which is why Allan took part and he raised more than £650. A sponsorship form for Euan’s challenge is available from the primary school.


Footballer Ched Evans to face rape retrial after winning conviction appeal

April 21 2016

Footballer Ched Evans has won his appeal against his conviction for raping a 19-year-old woman. But Court of Appeal judges in London have ordered that he must face a fresh trial. The decision was announced on Thursday following appeal proceedings last month. The former Sheffield United striker and Wales international was present in the packed London courtroom with girlfriend Natasha Massey by his side to hear the result of his conviction challenge. Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice Flaux and Sir David Maddison had heard submissions over two days from Kieran Vaughan QC, for Evans, and from Eleanor Laws QC, for the Crown. Evans, now 27, was convicted in April 2012. He was found guilty at Caernarfon Crown Court of raping the woman at a hotel in Rhyl, north Wales. His conviction was referred to the Court of Appeal for review by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which investigates possible miscarriages of justice.


Family learned their house was to be demolished by reading The Courier

July 10 2013

A Fife family only discovered their home was to be demolished thanks to The Courier. Despite Fife Council saying it had consulted with tenants affected by its plans for Craigie Street in Ballingry, Anne Ewan and her daughters Jennifer and Naomi were shocked to read that their home would soon be razed to the ground. “If it wasn’t for reading about it, we could have passed one day and seen a pile of rubble,” Jennifer said. The saga started last year when council tenants were decanted from their homes so that the local authority could carry out improvements works. That was hit by delays, with the family living out of packing boxes for months before they were eventually moved into temporary accommodation in June 2012. But back at Craigie Street the council had discovered that the water problems, which had led to the improvement work in the first place, were more serious than first thought. It was originally estimated that the cost of the refurbishment would be around £60,000 per flat but, following a review, that rose to £75,000 so the entire cost for the 12 properties would be £900,000. Deciding they were too expensive to repair and an eyesore, the council opted to allocate new homes to the tenants and flatten the blocks. But it was the council’s comment that tenants had been consulted that raised eyebrows in the family. “We accepted the delays and the fact the house we were moved to was much smaller, because all along we thought it was going to be temporary,” Jennifer said. “What we were most angry about was not the fact the houses were going to be demolished that is probably for the best but it was the fact the article said the council had told us and were consulting with residents. “Maybe they told some of them but they certainly did not talk to us. We found out our house was going to be demolished through your paper.” The council’s head of housing and neighbourhood services Derek Muir apologised for not having spoken to Mrs Ewan before she read of her home’s fate in The Courier. He said: “Fife Council’s Cowdenbeath area committee agreed to the proposed demolition of the 12 properties at Craigie Street, Ballingry, due to deteriorating conditions, rising costs and lack of demand. “The majority of tenants originally living in these houses have been offered and accepted permanent housing from Fife Council. However, we still have to discuss the future housing options for a small number of tenants. “I am aware that Mrs Euan (sic) is one of these tenants and would apologise on behalf of the council for not having arranged a suitable opportunity to discuss this with her. We have been in contact with Mrs Euan and are in the process of making arrangements to fully discuss this issue with her direct.” Photo by David Wardle

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.