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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...


Comment: Back to the purely amateur era for Caledonia rugby

May 1 2018

Scottish Rugby’s Super 6 initiative is apparently an attempt to drive club rugby into a bright new future. But for Caledonia and Glasgow city rugby, it’s a nagging reminder of the past. A club from each of the four rugby regions of Scotland promised some kind of geographical spread. In the end half the six selected franchises are in Edinburgh, covered by a mere four mile radius; two of them are based in grounds barely 1000 yards apart. Stirling County – who until the late 90s were actually based in Glasgow district – are the Caledonia region’s representative, leaving all territory north of the Forth without representation. Glasgow, the biggest city in the country and with the Warriors’ recent success clearly the biggest potential growth area for rugby, has no representative either. Clearly with only six franchises – although the rumours have been flying that it might be extended to eight somewhere down the line – and 12 bids, someone was going to be disappointed. Scottish Rugby’s Mark Dodson indicated his hopes that the unsuccessful bids would try again in the future. But it seems fanciful to think that the partnerships formed for these bids – Glasgow’s with its major universities, Dundee’s with the city council, two universities and the High School, for example – will be so readily reformed when the bidding process opens up again. It also seems extremely fanciful that Edinburgh can successfully sustain three franchises while Glasgow has none. For up-and-coming rugby players north of the Forth, it means staying amateur with their existing clubs or taking the road to Stirling or the capital; largely the same decision their fathers made when the game was purely amateur – in name at least - prior to 1995. That’s progress, apparently.

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.


BT Cup: Away days for Dundee HSFP and Kirkcaldy

November 17 2016

Two Midlands teams remain in the BT Cup at the second round stage in Dundee HSFP and Kirkcaldy and both have away ties this weekend. Dundee High take on Cartha QP in Glasgow's southside while the Blues are at Stoneyhill to meet Musselburgh from one division above them. In the Caledonia Shield Dunfermline meet Aberdeen Wanderers in the Granite City in a rescheduled tie to see who plays in next week's semi-finals. There's regional league fixtures as well with Glenrothes aiming to make up some ground on Gordonians in Caledonia Division One. Club league and cup matches this weekend: BT Cup second round: Cartha QP v Dundee HSFP, Musselburgh v Kirkcaldy (both ko 1.30 pm). BT Caledonia Shield quarter-final: Aberdeen Wanderers v Dunfermline (1.30 pm). BT Caledonia League One: Glenrothes v Gordonians (1.15 pm), Alloa v Harris Academy FP (2 pm). BT Caledonia Midlands Division Two: Kinross v Howe of Fife II (tonight, 7.30 pm), Kirkcaldy II v Falkirk II, Panmure v Hillfoots, Blairgowrie v Morgan Academy FP (all 2pm), Crieff & Strathearn v Grangemouth Stags (3pm). BT Caledonia Midlands Division Three North: Angus Development v Dundee University Medics, Waid FP v Madras, Perthshire II v Arbroath, Stobswell v Aberfeldy (all 2pm). BT Caledonia Midlands Division Three South: Hillfoots II v Alloa II, Stirling County III v Fife Southern, Grangemouth II v Bannockburn.


Reborn Caledonia Reds out to reclaim their role in Scottish rugby

April 24 2014

Sixteen years after the team was wound up, the Caledonia Reds will be reborn this Sunday at Duffus Park in Cupar with a view to reclaiming their role in Scottish Rugby. A Reds team picked from senior clubs in the north and coached by former Scotland captain Jason White who played for the Reds as a teenager supported by club coaches Colin Robertson and Kevin Wyness, will take on invitation side the Co-Optimists, who will feature Glasgow’s Carlin Isles the fastest man in world rugby in their team. A second match in Prestonpans next week against a Newcastle Falcons XV has also been arranged, with a view to putting the Reds and Caledonia region on the map again as Scottish Rugby debates how to expand representative rugby and widen its player base. The Reds were the team representing the old North and Midlands district all territory north of the Forth and were disbanded after playing two Heineken Cup seasons in 1998. The team was merged with Glasgow into the Glasgow Caledonians team which has since become the Glasgow Warriors pro-team. The recent revival began in unlikely circumstances, after financier Martin Gilbert indicated his interest in helping fund a third pro team in Aberdeen last month, when some supporters started a Facebook page under the Reds name. The response to the page snowballed quickly until the games were arranged at short notice, and Sunday’s match kick-off 2pm will be in aid of the Murrayfield Centenary Charity. “It just shows that the identity of the Reds is still alive even after all these years and furthermore there are players who are really desperate to be involved,” said Dundee HSFP coach Robertson. “There’s a lot of discussion about structure in Scottish Rugby at the moment and we don’t know where the Reds would fit into that. “Ideally it would be a third pro-team but we understand there are a lot of obstacles, financial and logistical. “We think there is definitely scope for a revival of the district championship, on a more structured scale than before, to help fill the big gap between club rugby and pro rugby that everyone knows is there.” While the senior team was disbanded, Caledonia has continued at under-16, 17 and 18 level, producing a stream of players for the pro-teams and international rugby. Seven players from Stirling County, four each from Aberdeen Grammar and Dundee HSFP, two from Howe of Fife and a smattering of experienced players from other clubs like Peter Jericevich of Ayr and Cameron Ferguson, Jason Hill and Murray Douglas from cup champions Heriot’s have been selected in the squad for Sunday’s game. Fred McLeod, the former SRU president who is the long-time president of the Co-Optimists, has named a strong side led by Heriot’s cup-winning captain Graham Wilson, augmented by Glasgow’s two American players, the electric Isles and Fola Nuia. Both played leading roles in the Warriors’ win at the Melrose Sevens last week and have been released from the Glasgow squad to play.

Business news

Caledonia Investments’ £49.5m deal for care group

August 8 2013

Caledonia Investments completed a £49.5 million deal for a major residential care group. The investment trust said it had taken a controlling 97.7% stake in Choice Care Group from Sovereign Capital. The group has three arms: Choice Holdings, Truecare Holdings and Choice Pathways. It operates 47 residential care homes for adults with learning disabilities, mental health disorders and complex needs across southern England. Caledonia which has strong historical links to north-east Scotland through the Cayzer family, some of whom remain shareholders through the Cayzer Family Trust Company said it had taken an initial 97.7% holding in the business for £49.5m. The remaining equity has been rolled over by the management team led by Choice chief executive Edwina Johnson. The trust said it and the banks RBS, AIB Group and Santander have provided £40m of senior debt financing were committed to providing additional capital to fund Choice’s future development. The care provider made a pre-tax profit of £3.2m in the year to September 30 2012, and management have plans to expand the business. Caledonia CEO Will Wyatt said: “Our investment in Choice represents another positive step in the development of Caledonia’s unquoted investment business, building upon our reputation as a measured, long-term investor in the unquoted arena. “Choice fits well with the investment criteria we have set out to shareholders and I am confident it will deliver positive returns from the continuing growth of the business.” Ms Johnston said the Caledonia investment would allow the company to realise its ambitions. She said: “It is great to have the backing of Caledonia and their long-term support for our continuing investment plans.”


Six injured in accident outside Glasgow Caledonian University

September 16 2013

Four pedestrians and two police officers have been injured in a Glasgow city centre crash. The incident happened at around 12.30pm today in Cowcaddens Road, near the entrance of Glasgow Caledonian University. An Audi car reportedly struck four pedestrians on the road then crashed into a stationary police car which had two officers inside. The woman driving the car has been charged with road traffic offences, police said. The pedestrians and police officers were taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary for treatment to minor injuries. The university said police were in the area before the crash because "unauthorised vendors", such as club and pub promoters, were causing increased congestion outside the university entrance. "Glasgow Caledonian University regards the safety of its students as paramount and we are extremely concerned that a group of students and other members of the public were injured in a road accident outside the gates of the university in Cowcaddens Road," a spokesman said. "We dispatched our own first-aiders to assist but paramedics were quickly on the scene and attended to the injured. Although some were taken to hospital, our current understanding is that no one was seriously injured. The university's support team is liaising with the injured students and their families. "As this is Freshers' Week, the entrance to the university is busier than normal and attracts unauthorised vendors at the public road area which adds to the congestion. We reported this to the police today as this area is a public thoroughfare and police teams were actually on the scene when the accident happened."


St Andrews University rises to all-time high in new league tables

April 26 2017

St Andrews University has risen to an all-time high of third in a prestigious league table published today. The results of TheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk’s 2018 rankings means that the Fife institution lies below only Cambridge and Oxford in the list, up from fifth in last year’s table, and cements its position as Scotland’s highest-ranked university. There was also good news for Dundee University, which climbed six places from 35th into 29th, while Abertay University stayed static in 86th. Scotland’s second-highest ranked university, Edinburgh, fell four places to 23rd, exiting the top 20 in the process, while Glasgow dropped from 29th to 36th to be overtaken by both Heriot-Watt in 28th and Dundee. West of Scotland recorded the biggest climb in Scotland, up 10 places to 100th, with Stirling, Aberdeen, Strathclyde, Robert Gordon, Glasgow Caledonian, Queen Margaret and Edinburgh Napier also making the top 100 from north of the border. In separate listings covering 70 subjects, St Andrews also featured in the top 10 for 23 of the 25 subjects it teaches, occupying the top spot in two — namely business and management studies and Middle Eastern and African studies. Dr Bernard Kingston, chairman of TheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk, said: “It is 10 years since TheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk launched its online university league tables, and they have proved their accuracy, independence and robustness over the decade. “This year there is a considerable degree of stability at the upper end of the league table, as in the past. “This stability, while it may not attract the headlines, demonstrates that the rankings fulfil our principal objective — to provide credible and freely accessible information for individuals seeking a university place. “The Government has said that applicants need access to robust, timely and objective information, based on criteria that is straightforward and easily understood. “We believe that TheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk meets these criteria and more and we intend that this will remain the case for the next decade — and beyond. Indeed, we use the same three metrics which the Government plans to include in its much-heralded Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).” Edinburgh makes the top 10 for 20 of the 50 subjects it offers, topping the nursing categotry, while Strathclyde features in 34 subject tables, making the top 10 in 13 and finishing first in three — namely aural and oral sciences, medical technology, and social policy. In addition, Glasgow features in nine top 10s; Dundee and Aberdeen in six; Robert Gordon and Glasgow Caledonian in five; Heriot-Watt and Stirling in three; Edinburgh Napier in two; and West of Scotland in one.

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

Scottish politics

High-profile figures in Scotland call for Brexit to be stopped

July 18 2017

Dozens of senior politicians and academics in Scotland have demanded Brexit is called off. A letter signed by 60 public figures said leaving the EU must be abandoned as the “disastrous consequences” of doing so become “ever clearer”. Former first minister Henry McLeish and ex-Lib Dem leader Lord Campbell are among those to back the call. Lord Kerr, the author of Article 50, as well respected professors David Bell and Christina Boswell and MEPs Alyn Smith and David Martin have also signed up. It reads: “We call for a national debate on Brexit. We ask our fellow citizens, and our politicians, to think again. It is time to call a halt to Brexit.” The letter, which was sent to the Herald, said the UK’s international reputation is “seriously damaged”, Brexit will increase the speed of falling living standards and EU citizens in the UK and Brits on the continent are in “unacceptable limbo”. “We recognise that a narrow majority voted to leave the European Union, but the disastrous consequences are now becoming ever clearer – every day,” the signatories said. It added: “In a democracy, it is always possible to think again and to choose a different direction.” The signatories: Prof. David Bell, Stirling Management School, University of Stirling Andrew Bolger, former Scotland Correspondent, Financial Times, Prof. Christina Boswell, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh Professor Sir Harry Burns, Professor of Global Public Health, University of Strathclyde The Rt. Hon Lord Campbell of Pittenweem CH CBE PC QC Dr Chad Damro, University of Edinburgh Professor Emeritus Sir Tom Devine, University of Edinburgh Christine De Luca, poet Dr Richard Dixon, Director, Friends of the Earth Scotland Sir David Edward, Professor Emeritus Edinburgh University Law School and former ECJ Judge John Edward, Former Head of European Parliament Office in Scotland/Former EU Policy Manager, Scotland Europa Colin Imrie, European policy analyst Maria Fletcher Director, Director of Scottish Universities Legal Network on Europe (SULNE) Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Dr Peter Geoghegan, University of the West of Scotland, Gwilym Gibbons Creative Help Ltd Prof. Anne Glover, Vice Principal for External Affairs and Dean for Europe, University of Aberdeen Vanessa Glynn, Chair, European Movement in Scotland Michele Gordon, Director, The Language Hub David Gow, Editor, Sceptical Scot, Editor, Social Europe Dr Eve Hepburn, Chief Executive, Fearless Femme CIC David Hood, Director, Edinburgh Institute for Collaborative & Competitive Advantage Dr Kirsty Hughes, Director, Scottish Centre on European Relations Helen Hunter Education Officer (retired) Helen Kay M.A., M.Sc. Stefan G Kay OBE Patricia Kelly, Retired Teacher Lord Kerr of Kinlochard GCMG Mark Lazarowicz, former Labour MP 2001 – 2015, Edinburgh North Graham Leicester, International Futures Forum (in a personal capacity) Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke, former Secretary of State Scotland and former High Commissioner to Australia. Dr John MacDonald, Director of the Scottish Global Forum and editor of CABLE magazine Gordon Macintyre-Kemp, Author and Chief Executive, Business for Scotland Dame Mariot Leslie David Martin, MEP Monica Martins, Managing Director, WomenBeing Project Marilyne MacLaren, retired politician and educationalist Rt. Hon. Henry McLeish, former First Minister Maggie Mellon, former executive board, Women for Independence and social work consultant Professor Steve Murdoch, University of St Andrews Isobel Murray, Professor Emeritus Modern Scottish Literature, Aberdeen University Dr Kath Murray, Criminal Justice Researcher Andrew Ormston, Director of Drew Wylie Projects Alex Orr, Managing Director, Orbit Communications (in a personal capacity) Robert Palmer robertpalmerconsultants@gmail.com Ray Perman, author and journalist Willis Pickard, former editor TES Scotland and Rector, Aberdeen University, Dr Janet Powney, consultant in education and evaluation research Lesley Riddoch Ian Ritchie, software entrepreneur Baron Robertson of Port Ellen, KT, former Secretary of State for Defence, former Secretary General, NATO Bill Rodger, Treasurer, European Movement in Scotland Anthony Salamone, Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser, Scottish Centre on European Relations Prof. Andrew Scott, University of Edinburgh Anne Scott, Secretary, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Scottish Branch Peter K. Sellar Advocate, Axiom Advocates Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh, Prof. Jo Shaw, University of Edinburgh Dr Kirsteen Shields, Lecturer in Public Law, University of Dundee Martin Sime, Chief Executive, SCVO Alyn Smith, MEP Grahame Smith, General Secretary STUC Professor Michael E. Smith, Professor of International Relations, University of Aberdeen Prof. Chris Smout, Historiographer Royal of Scotland and Emeritus Professor, University of St Andrews Struan Stevenson, former MEP and European Movement in Scotland Vice-President Lord (Jim) Wallace of Tankerness Lib Dem Peer & former Deputy First Minister Sir Graham Watson, former President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE Party), former MEP Dr Geoffrey Whittam, Reader, Glasgow Caledonian University Fay Young, Director of a digital media company