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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...


‘Landscape is everything’ at Falkland Estate

September 6 2016

The teenagers reluctantly traipsed up the lower slopes of the East Lomond with their hands in their pockets. Some were wearing white hoodies and brand new Converse trainers. Many had never been on a hill before let alone been expected to write poetry about their experience. Yet after seven weeks of visits, the S3 group from Beath High School in Cowdenbeath had learned a bit more about the land, a bit more about writing and quite possibly a bit more about themselves. The pinnacle of their efforts was a magical video they produced featuring poetry inspired by the landscape and sounds they collected ranging from the shake of oak branches and tumble of burns to the beat of the Maspie Den waterfall. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTUjJJg-uzU The pupils were taking part in the pioneering Journeys into the Literary Landscape project which uses the stunning landscape of Falkland Estate with its forests, waterfalls and quiet, magical spaces, to inspire change in their individual and collective perceptions. Launched to nine local high schools and 260 pupils in 2014, the project, hosted by Falkland Centre for Stewardship, was led by professional writers and sound artists “to inspire young people to develop a deeper connection with the poetry, literature and landscape of the Lomond Hills and to encourage them to develop their own creative response to the landscape in a medium of their choice.” With more pupils embarking upon their own Journey into the Literary Landscape after the summer break, Helen Lawrenson, the director of the Falkland Centre for Stewardship on Falkland Estate cites this as a perfect example of the stewardship ethos centred around core issues of wood, food and crafts. But it’s just one aspect of the centre’s work which ranges from community archaeology projects to hut building courses and forestry. Sunshine “Landscape is everything here,” explains Helen, 47, as we enjoy the sunshine beneath the majestic peak of the East Lomond. “Journeys into the Literary Landscape was all about engaging secondary school students with poetry and the landscape. When you see the students come out you think no way are they going to be in the least bit interested writing a poem. But by the end of the day there are some brilliant poems, and they are just inspired by the landscape. All of this goes back to everything stemming from the landscape.” Growing up in Falkland, Helen studied history at Edinburgh University and did a Masters in tourism at Strathclyde. She was a guide at Falkland Palace during the summer before moving to Essex to work in tourism, moving to the Fruitmarket in Edinburgh and Heritage Lottery Fund as a grants officer. She returned to Falkland to raise a family, taking up a role with what was then the Falkland Heritage Trust. But in the years since, she has helped the Falkland Centre for Stewardship, led by the hereditary keeper of Falkland Palace Ninian Crichton Stuart and a team of passionate trustees, to open the estate up more to the public. The 1500 hectare estate, which includes the East Lomond Hill, is  roughly split into woodland, farms and then the Victorian designed landscape around the Stables and the old House of Falkland. The old school building was originally built as a home by the 19th century estate owners, the Bruce Tyndalls. Today the building houses the award winning Falkland House School. The estate was purchased by the Third Marquis of Bute – Ninian Crichton Stuart’s great grandfather – and the on-going restoration of the estate stems from there. Protected “It’s that notion of stewardship – looking after the assets you happen to have responsibility for and making sure they are protected and cared for for future generations, “ explains Helen. “We’ve started to develop programmes around this ethos of stewardship. Wood, food and craft. If we stick to those themes they all seem to interlink really well. “But it’s not just about the built heritage of the estate. We are all about people engaging with the place in a meaningful way. People are welcome to walk up and down here now. It’s not so much the hidden place it felt like in the past.” An important aspect, in association with the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, has been the soon to end Living Lomonds project which literally aimed to re-connect people with the hills. Project officer Audrey Peebles said: “A lot of it has been about getting communities on either side of the hill to talk to each other. “The other big thing we are doing as direct legacy of Living Lomonds is we have secured more money from Big Lottery in project called Our Bright Future. And that’s to continue our rural skills training of young people. That’s going to last at least five years.” Whilst much of the funding comes from the likes of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Climate Challenge Fund and Fife Environment Trust, it’s important to have revenue streams that are not grant dependent, adds Audrey. A recent craft symposium in August was a good example of this, adds Helen. *For more information go to www.centreforstewardship.org.uk


Big Tent Festival becomes a victim of its own success

January 7 2014

The organisers of the Big Tent Festival have confirmed that it has been wound up after it became ‘too successful’. In a statement posted on the festival’s Facebook site, organisers have said: “There will be no Big Tent Festival in 2014 or in the foreseeable future. “The organisers Falkland Centre for Stewardship are focusing on a series of events and activities that will unfold across the year. We will keep you posted...” The Big Tent Festival, held on Falkland Estate since 2006 and eventually attracting 11,000 people, was launched by the Falkland Centre of Stewardship in response to the staging of the G8 summit at Gleneagles. Organisers say it was becoming increasingly difficult to stage the event billed as ‘Scotland’s greenest festival’ and raise enough money due to its scale and popularity. Usually held in the last weekend of July, it started as a small-scale venture but grew attracting acts in recent years including The Proclaimers, King Creosote and Rosanne Cash whose family have historic roots in the Falkland area. But the event last held in 2012 had been postponed while a major review was carried out. Live music was central to the festival but the family-friendly event also included cycling, walking, storytelling, arts and crafts and local food and drink showcases. The charity which ran the festival and attracted funding from Fife Council and EventScotland now wants to concentrate on smaller events it runs the rest of the year. Ninian Crichton Stuart, chairman of Falkland Estate Trust and estate steward at the Falkland Centre for Stewardship, has denied that level of competition had triggered the decision to wind up the Big Tent. He said the event was still very much about looking at what people in Scoland can do about environmental issues and how we live our lives. He said the amount of work involved in organising the event as it grew and the challenge raising the funds to meet all the costs involved were huge. He said only a couple of thousand people attended the first event compared with more than 11,000 in 2012. He said they were a “very modest-sized organisation” and the event had grown “very big, very quickly” to the extent that it took up most of the year to organise. For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Courier or try our digital edition.


Big Tent Festival cancelled as it outgrows Falkland site’s capacity

January 11 2011

Scotland's biggest eco-festival has been shelved this year after effectively becoming too popular. The Big Tent Festival in Falkland, which attracted over 11,000 people last summer, is to take a sabbatical to give organisers time to plan for the future. It is hoped that by the time the event returns next year, improvements will have been made to the site which will allow the festival to develop in an eco-friendly way. Proposals include the installation of compost toilets and solar showers and a range of other ways to reduce the event's carbon footprint. Launched in 2005 as a response to the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, the Big Tent has become Fife's largest festival and is seen as a major force in spreading the environmental message of the Falkland Centre for Stewardship, which organises it. It moved to a new location at Home Park within the Falkland Estate last year and this, combined with a main stage performance from Grammy Award winner Roseanne Cash saw more people attending than ever before. The 2010 event was described at the time as the best Big Tent ever, but it was admitted that some site management issues would have to be addressed before the next one.Direction changeDavid Corner, chairman of the Falkland Stewardship Trust, said it had become essential to take time this year to focus on developing the site and the overall future direction of the Big Tent. However, he added there would still be an array of family-friendly eco activities talking place in Falkland over the summer, including nature clubs for children, summer schools, craft and wood workshops, talks and walks. "We have almost become victims of our own success," continued Mr Corner. "In five years we have grown Big Tent to the point where our limited resources are in danger of not being able to deliver the high-quality family festival for which we are famed. "We will use 2011 to take stock, improve the site infrastructure and to plan a more congruent Big Tent Festival for 2012." Helen Lawrenson, director of the Falkland Centre for Stewardship, added, "We had over 11,000 people attending Big Tent 2010 and we were proud to be one of the lead events in Celebrating Fife. As the home of stewardship in Scotland, the festival has allowed us to inform and entertain in equal measure and we now have a bedrock of over 1000 active supporters and volunteers who we hope will help us shape the future and plan for July 28 and 29, 2012-the dates of the next Big Tent." Last year's event also saw a series of debates and workshops on environmental issues and a variety of entertainment including children's activities, poetry recitals, a solar cinema and story telling.


Weedkiller’s a thorny issue for Big Tent Festival

July 9 2010

Scotland's largest eco-festival, held annually in north-east Fife, has had its green credentials called into question after pesticide was used to kill thistles and nettles around its site. The Big Tent, staged near the historic town of Falkland and heralded as one of Fife's flagship events, confirmed it had used the weedkiller Grazon, commonly used by farmers, on the plants. It was also revealed that the mole population has been targeted by a catcher employed to remove the creatures from the festival site for "health and safety" reasons. The combined action was deemed necessary according to the event organisers, the Falkland Centre of Stewardship, who said it was to protect revellers when they arrive for opening night on July 23. Billed as a green festival, the Big Tent attracts thousands of people, including families, to its picturesque setting within the Falkland Estate. With a strong focus on sustainability, the three-day event, now in its fifth year, offers a host of live world music and debate on social and environmental issues. But the revelations have led to accusations the Big Tent is eco-friendly by name only a view not shared by stewards. "We are fortunate enough to act as hosts to hundreds of children at the Big Tent and a few months back we were concerned about how some small patches of nettles might impact on our young visitors," said a spokesman. "The Home Farm here at Falkland is fully organic but the site of the festival as part of the designed landscape is not currently organic and so after a lengthy internal debate we concluded that the safest way to address the nettle problem was to use a standard systemic spray. "Happily, this approach has worked and we have been able to plant out many of the affected areas with wild flowers." The stewardship group was invited to comment on how much of the weedkiller was used and over what area. However, no comment was given on this.ReputationDespite the explanation, Falkland shopkeeper Bob Beveridge, who reported the incident, believes the festival has harmed its reputation. "They have made an error in going ahead with killing the nettles," said Mr Beveridge. "Nettles play a big role in supporting the conservation of wildlife in the area. "The butterfly population relies on them for its survival. "There are some, such as the peacock butterfly, that are travelling northwards from England where their habitat has been destroyed. "They need nettles to survive. "For a festival, which says it is eco-friendly, to use weedkiller to kill off plants seems like completely wrong. "Even if it is only a small drop being used, that does not make a difference." He added, "You are either eco-friendly or you're not." The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) said it would investigate what impact, if any, the pesticide has had on the local watercourse and said it was not informed of the plans beforehand. The Big Tent returns on July 23-25.


Falkland kids kick-start debate about area’s future

March 14 2018

Children from Falkland and Newton of Falkland have kick-started a new conversation about what the future could hold for the area. ‘Making Falkland’s and Newton’s Future’ will be an interactive multi-day planning event later this month to discuss, debate and decide the future of the two neighbouring Fife villages, as Falkland and Newton are next to benefit from Scottish Government Making Places Initiative funding. Planning and design workshops as part of the charrette will be held in the Community Hall and Old Town Hall from Tuesday March 20 to Thursday March 22, with a final exhibition and a reporting back session planned for April 18. With the initiative dependent on community ideas, organisers decided there was no better place to start than tapping into youth at a workshop at Falkland Primary School. Youngsters there joined with Bell Baxter High School pupils who used to attend Falkland Primary to discuss their favourite places in the area and what might make the villages better places in which to live, work and play over the coming years. All ages are being invited to have their say to help develop a realistic action plan, and Laura Munro, headteacher at Falkland Primary, said she was keen to see what ideas are brought forth to reflect the modern impact of life on a historical village. She said issues such as school parking can be dealt with, adding: "It will be interesting to see what issues come up. This really is the start of the discussion.” Common themes raised by the youngsters were a lack of play equipment at the two main parks in the area, a desire for an astroturf pitch or skate park on the site of the former Smith Anderson factory, and calls for a leisure centre or swimming pool. Youngsters also made the point that the nearest big supermarket is in Glenrothes, while one enthusiastic pupil was keen to see a zip line introduced in the area. Rod Crawford, vice chair of Falkland and Newton of Falkland Community Council, reiterated his call for locals of all ages to contribute as part of the charrette process. “In terms of involvement, we don’t want this just to be the 'usual suspects'; we want to hear Falkland’s and Newton’s unheard voices. We want to hear the voices of the whole community.”


‘It put the area on the map’ rethink urged on scrapping Big Tent Festival

January 9 2014

A councillor wants the organiser of Scotland’s largest eco-festival to reconsider the decision to shelve the event. Howe of Fife councillor David MacDiarmid said he was “shocked but not surprised” at news the Big Tent Festival has been scrapped because it had grown “too big” and was a “victim of its own success”. But he believes the festival, which was held on Falkland Estate since 2006, could still have had a future, given the chance. Mr MacDiarmid told The Courier: “I supported the Big Tent from day one. “Perhaps I became part of the success of the Big Tent because I came for the whole package, like thousands of others who came to eat, drink and be entertained. “Let’s make no bones about it, though, most of us took in the eco/sustainability issues as well. “I would urge the Falkland Centre for Stewardship to reconsider and take a long, hard look at what a success the Big Tent had become the dozens of Fifers who worked their socks off at the event, including many locals, and the businesses in the village that must have benefited financially as well. “But most importantly for me, we opened the door to thousands of visitors to one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland and educated adults and children alike in what is possible in this fragile planet of ours.” Howe of Fife councillor Andy Heer also expressed disappointment. “It was a great environmental exposition, providing an opportunity for people to learn about environmental issues and solutions,” he said.” “I’m not sure that it brought much direct benefit to Falkland on the Big Tent weekend, it was just a little bit too far out of town for people to pop along to the shops or pubs and there was a Co-op shop on-site at the last Big Tent, which attracted some criticism from local traders. “However it put the area on the map and I’m sure that many people who came to Big Tent came back on other occasions to walk or cycle or to explore the town, so overall it was a benefit to Falkland and the surrounding area.” Howe of Fife councillor Donald Lothian said: “It was clear to me the huge effort over many months beforehand, as well as during the festival itself, put in by a limited number of people to make the event happen was so great that it was unsustainable. “There were also issues with regard to the management of traffic and people in a relatively confined area ,which also resulted in additional effort and expense. A sad day, nevertheless.” The Courier reported that there will be no Big Tent Festival in 2014 or for the foreseeable future. The organiser, Falkland Centre for Stewardship, is focusing on a series of events and activities that will unfold across the year. While funding was still available, organisers said it was becoming increasingly difficult to raise enough money due to its growing scale and popularity. There was also a feeling that the scale was increasingly at odds with its eco-credentials.


Big Tent Festival opens under sunny skies

July 24 2010

Music fans poured into Falkland Estate as beautiful weather greeted the start of the three-day Big Tent Festival on Friday. Around 10,000 people are expected to flock to the environment and music festival over the weekend and those eager to enjoy the party were entertained by a musical line-up on Friday night, headlined by local favourite King Creosote. The fifth event was opened by Gambian campaigner Adelaide Sosseh, Falkland Centre for Stewardship transitional steward Neil Anderson and Scotland's climate change minister Stewart Stevenson. Adelaide, co-chairwoman of the Global Call To Action Against Poverty, is due to speak at the festival today with Malcolm Fleming of Oxfam Scotland. Mr Stevenson said that the family-friendly festival brings people from across Scotland together to discuss making society greener. He said, "The Big Tent festival is not only a fantastic forum for that debate, but it is also a chance for everyone involved to really enjoy themselves sampling all the festival has to offer. "We will only reach Scotland's world leading climate change targets if we work together -- and events like these are a really important way to make that happen." Big Tent was conceived in response to the G8 Summit in Gleneagles in 2005 and Mr Anderson likened it to "education by stealth." He said, "It's a green festival with music as opposed to a music festival with a green wash. "People come and walk around and see things and slowly absorb some of the information." The festival is a flagship event of Fife's Year of Culture and Mr Anderson said, "In terms of the local economy, we are putting in a lot of money. Hopefully people will come and see Fife, think what a wonderful place it is and come back." One of this year's highlights is sure to be Sunday's performance by Rosanne Cash. As well as the music, this year's extended site features a host of stalls and tents offering entertainment, foods and goods, with a strong emphasis on local produce. For full details, see www.bigtentfestival.co.uk.


Back with a bang Local heroes The Proclaimers to headline Big Tent festival

December 10 2011

Fife's finest The Proclaimers are set to headline the Big Tent festival next year. Scotland may be in the grips of winter but the Reid twins have given music lovers something to look forward to when summer returns. The brothers will take to the stage on July 21 to provide the finale to the first night of the two-day festival at Falkland Estate. Craig and Charlie were born in Leith and grew up in Auchtermuchty, just five miles from the festival site. The Big Tent is a green-themed family-friendly affair organised by Falkland Centre for Stewardship. It hosts two stages of music as well as a range of talks, demonstrations and activities aimed at encouraging festival-goers of all ages to be conscious about the environment. Further headline acts are expected to be announced in the coming months. Helen Lawrenson, director of Falkland Centre for Stewardship, said: ''This is an amazing start to our 2012 festival programme and we are really excited that we can offer our fans an exclusive appearance by one of Scotland's best ever live acts. ''Having taken a year off to take a fresh look at where Big Tent is going we are sure that our fans will agree that this is a great announcement and a very good start indeed. ''Over the past 12 months we have been able to focus on what really matters to us, our supporters and festival fans and so making sure that we maintain a keen eye on our environmental responsibilities is going to be key to the 2012 event." Limited numbers of tickets are already on sale at special early bird prices. See www.bigtentfestival.co.uk for more information.


Big Tent Festival proclaimed a major success

July 23 2012

Scotland's environmental festival brought thousands of people to Fife at the weekend, including Auchtermuchty's most famous twins. The Big Tent in Falkland, just a few miles from their home village, was headlined by The Proclaimers, who are enjoying the success of their latest album Like Comedy. Charlie and Craig Reid wowed an audience who had already enjoyed music from the likes of Das Contras and Treacherous Orchestra. Some 6,000 people attended the festival of stewardship on Saturday, which was blessed with a day of sunshine. Several thousand more were estimated to have descended on Falkland Estate on Sunday. The Proclaimers delighted fans, many of whom had come especially to see the duo, with hits old and new. Music was just one element of a packed programme, which included debates, talks, workshops, crafts and entertainment for children. Another highlight was a debate on what makes Fife Fife involving Cardenden author Ian Rankin and children's author Aileen Paterson, originally from Burntisland. Ninian Stuart, of festival organisers Falkland Centre for Stewardship, was delighted with how the event had gone and paid tribute to the large team of volunteers. He said: ''It is a huge undertaking. We had a team of 200 volunteers signed up for the weekend and they have been absolute stalwarts. ''Big Tent is the best of a truly local festival but one that reaches to people across Scotland.'' Big Tent was launched in 2006 in response to the G8 summit in Gleneagles the year before and has been staged every summer since, except last year. Festival fans hoping to return next year, however, will have to wait to find out whether there will be a Big Tent 2013. Mr Stuart said: ''Whether we do another Big Tent next year, the year after or at all is an open question, but we will be doing things.''Click here for a full photo gallery