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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...

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

Cameras roll as Saints legend Geoff Brown gets hall of fame honour

January 10 2013

HIGHLIGHTS OF a tribute dinner held for St Johnstone’s legendary ex-chairman Geoff Brown can be enjoyed by fans all over again. The club’s board of directors organised the dinner at the end of last year to celebrate local construction magnate Mr Brown’s contribution and service to the team. It also honoured more than a quarter of a century’s involvement in Scottish football. The event was a sell-out and involved contributions by ex-players, associates and colleagues whom Mr Brown had worked with during his chairmanship at Saints. The evening ended with his being the first name entered in the new St Johnstone Hall of Fame. The club had organised for local internet TV company PerthshireOnline.TV to film some of the evening’s proceedings, including Mr Brown’s speech and highlights from a number of the other contributors to the event, for the club’s archives. Some of the highlights have now been made into a DVD. Chairman Steve Brown said: “The evening was a great success with lots of stories from Geoff’s days as chairman of Saints and we felt that highlights of the event would be great memorabilia for supporters, both locally and those further afield, who perhaps couldn’t make the event. “The DVD includes all of Geoff’s own speech and snippets from many of the people who contributed to making the evening such a memorable one, including leading names in Scottish football, both past and present. “We were delighted with the turnout and we hope that the DVD will be one of those keepsakes for all Saints fans. “It was a special evening for the club, supporters and for Scottish football, and we’re delighted that we have film record of this.” Gavin Sime, director of PerthshireOnline.TV, said: “The approximate hour-long film by no means covers all the evening’s tributes but we felt that it was something special for fans to have Geoff’s speech and some of the key speeches and comments from well-known local and national figures who attended and had such great tributes to make to Geoff.” The DVD is available from the shop at McDiarmid Park, from the Saints website saintsonlinestore.co.uk, or by calling the club on 01738 459090. arichardson@thecourier.co.uk

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


Disabled sailor hopes to inspire people to reach for ‘the impossible dream’

March 3 2014

The first quadriplegic sailor to sail the Atlantic has inspired people in Lochore Meadows to reach for “the impossible dream”. Geoff Holt MBE attended the event organised at Lochgelly High School. Mr Holt entered the history books when he sailed solo around Great Britain. Paralysed from the neck down in an accident at the age of 18, Geoff’s achievement was both ground-breaking and courageous. Then, in January 2010, he became the first quadriplegic to sail unassisted across the Atlantic. Lochore Meadows community sport hub, based at Lochore Meadows country park, brings local people together and provides a home for local clubs and sports organisations. Executive committee spokesman Mark Hood said: “Geoff’s story is remarkable and really struck a chord with the audience. We hope everyone who came along recognises how much their support to the local community means and feel proud of the role they play.”


Public asked to help solve seal mystery in the Tay

April 2 2013

WALKERS ARE being urged to help solve the mystery of the Tay’s declining seal population. In the past decade, numbers of harbour seals, which are also known as common seals, have plummeted, promoting scientists at St Andrews University’s Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) to investigate why they are disappearing. One theory is that they are being killed by boat propellers. To get to the bottom of the mystery, the SMRU tagged a number of seals to monitor their movements. However, the tags have not been working properly. Seal tags are fitted with a mobile phone sim card to send back information, but this has malfunctioned. The SMRU is now asking members of the public to get in touch if they see a tagged seal so data can be recovered. Senior research scientist Callan Duck said: “If we can recover these tags, all that data is still being collected and we would be able to get all that information from them.” In recent years, seals have been washed ashore with strange corkscrew injuries, suggesting they had been fatally injured after coming into contact with propellers. The data on the tags could help scientistslike Mr Duck find out how the seals wereinjured. Harbour seals are not endangered but have declined in certain areas. Mr Duck said they are now becoming so scarce around the Tay and Eden Estuary there is a danger the local population could struggle to recover from further decline. Anyone who spots a tagged harbour seal on the banks of the Tay is asked to contact SMRU on 01334 463446. ENDS

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


‘Bedroom tax’ ruling ends year of hell for disabled woman

April 11 2014

A disabled woman told she should share a bedroom with her ex-husband is the latest person to win an appeal against the so-called bedroom tax. Fifer Jessie Aitken has uncontrolled epilepsy and can suffer from seizures at any time of the day or night. However, when her former husband Geoff moved back to the marital home in Kirkcaldy as her carer, Fife Council ruled he was not entitled to a separate bedroom and imposed a 25% cut in her housing benefit. Jessie, 47, said the local authority refused to believe the couple who split up three and a half years ago were not living as man and wife and considered they should sleep together. This was despite the fact the council’s own social work department kitted out Jessie’s room with a special alarm that would go off in Geoff’s bedroom to alert him when she had a seizure. After an independent tribunal in Kirkcaldy in January, a judge has now ruled Geoff is Jessie’s main carer and should have a room of his own. He also accepted that Jessie’s third bedroom was used by a rota of family members who stay over at weekends to offer respite to Geoff. Jessie has welcomed the tribunal’s ruling, stating she had endured a year of extreme stress that had almost destroyed her. “For almost 10 years I have tried to get a smaller house and have asked the council for swaps but have been refused every time,” she said. “When Geoff moved back we tried to get a two-bedroom house and the kids could have slept in his room at weekends. “This has all been very distressing. During the appeal my epilepsy was very bad and I was in and out of hospital.” She added: “I’m glad it’s all over. There’s not so much stress on me now and I can get on with my life.” Maureen Closs from the Fife Anti Bedroom Tax Campaign, which initially advised Jessie, said it had been obvious from the start the council had got it wrong. “They refused to back down and the result was a year of anxiety for Jessie and her family, us having to refer Jessie on to Fife Law Centre for representation at tribunal, which is funded by Fife Council, Fife Council’s costs in defending the case at tribunal and the cost to the state of holding the tribunal all completely unnecessary, in our view,” Maureen said. “We are happy that, at last, there has been justice for Jessie and hope for the same for all the other tenants out there who have had the ‘bedroom tax’ foisted on them unlawfully.” Fife Council leader David Ross said the local authority did not accept some of the campaign’s assertions but added he could not comment on Jessie’s individual case other than to say it was complex. “I can confirm that the council will not be submitting an appeal in this case but will be asking the tribunal to provide more information so that we are clear about the reasons for their decision,” he said. “The council believes that the ‘bedroom tax’ is unfair and unworkable and should be scrapped. “This is another illustration of the confusion surrounding this measure and the worry and concern it is causing to individual tenants.”

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.


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.