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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...

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


‘Independence camp’ campaigners win eviction reprieve

May 5 2016

The members of a so called "independence camp" at the Scottish Parliament have won a reprieve in a legal battle to have them evicted from outside Holyrood. Judge Lord Turnbull ruled that the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body cannot yet force the indie campaigners to leave parliament grounds. In a written judgement issued at the Court of Session, Lord Turnbull wrote that he couldn't give the corporate body permission to evict the campers. He said that to do so may breach Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights - the right to freedom of expression. It may also breach article 11 - the right to freedom to assemble. The judge has ordered that a further hearing should take place at the Edinburgh court to assess whether the campers rights would be breached if they were evicted. But Lord Turnbull - who heard legal submissions from representatives from the Sovereign Indigenous Peoples of Scotland in March - urged campaigners to seek legal representation ahead of the new hearing.  

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.

Business news

Sales and profits up at Graham’s The Family Dairy

November 27 2014

More success is pouring into Graham’s The Family Dairy, Scotland’s largest independent milk products supplier, with sales up 25% and pre-tax profit up by more than 30%. Managing director Robert Graham said the last year has not been without challenges for the Bridge of Allan company started by his namesake grandfather 75 years ago. These included the continuing debate over low farm-gate prices. Mr Graham said: “As farmers ourselves, we understand the pressures farmers face. Farm-gate prices are always difficult discussions, but our direct relationships help us maintain good relations.” Graham’s is exploring a new balancing scheme where farmers would produce certain amounts for the liquid and manufacturing markets, to give them more financial security. The latest meeting with farmers was last night. Mr Graham said: “This is about tying production in farms into business needs, but at 27.5p a litre we are paying more for milk than our rivals in the industry.” Graham’s sales last year rose from £68 million to £85m, and pre-tax profit went up from just above £1m to £1.32m. From its origins at Airthrey Kerse Farm with 12 hand-milked cows and horse and cart deliveries, almost half of the households in Scotland now buy Graham’s products. The business works with more than 90 dairy farmers across Scotland and employs 500 staff, and has grown 20% annually for the last 15 years to now produce an extensive range of milk, butter, cream, cheese, ice-cream, organic and Jersey products. More than 1.1 million Scottish shoppers buy a Graham’s product at least once a year. Graham’s products are sold throughout the UK via more than 6,000 customers from independent retailers to hotels and restaurants and the major multiples of Waitrose, Tesco and Asda and Sainsbury’s. Graham’s is next year introducing additional spreadable butter varieties and a range of luxurious butters, and future plans also include a new £20m purpose-built dairy. They see that scheme as a boost to the Stirling economy and the long-term future of the dairy industry in Scotland. The dairy would accommodate a new product development research facility and create up to 450 jobs including 50 local apprenticeships. The project is subject to approval of their 600 home Airthrey Green development proposals currently sitting with Stirling Council.

Scottish politics

Indy Camp loses legal battle to remain outside the Scottish Parliament

July 27 2016

Pro-independence campaigners who vowed to camp outside the Scottish Parliament until Scotland separated from the UK have lost their legal battle to maintain the vigil. Lord Turnbull ruled at the Court of Session that Holyrood's corporate body can now proceed with "legal authority" to remove the protesters. He then branded the actions of the people behind the so-called "indy camp" as "selfish" and "arrogant". He said: "In essence the respondents' position seems to be that their rights under article 10 and 11 should trump both the petitioner's right to possession and the rights of others to enjoy undisturbed use of the grounds. "This rather selfish or even arrogant approach was well illustrated in two ways. "First by the way in which the respondents felt able to hold a barbecue and social gathering in and around the area of the camp which they openly advertised on social media. "Second, the affidavits provided, as taken along with the photographs, make it plain that damage has been caused to the grounds of the Parliament by vehicles being parked on the grassed areas and by other means". Protesters opened the camp in November, 2015. The group were inspired by campaigners who maintained a vigil for Scottish devolution from 1992 until a referendum on the question was held and passed in 1997. Lord Turnbull added: "No explanation has been offered to explain this, to my mind, quite remarkable conduct. It would be perfectly obvious to anyone parking their vehicle on the grassed area of the grounds of the Scottish Parliament that to do so would cause damage. "That conduct displays open disregard for the rights of others to enjoy the grounds in their undisturbed form". During the case one protester, Richard McFarlane, told the judge Jesus Christ communicated with the group and was asking Lord Turnball to halt the proceedings. https://twitter.com/BBCPhilipSim/status/758256620505792512 The Scottish Parliament's corporate body argue the camp inhibits other members of the public using the parliament's facilities. A spokeswoman said: “The Corporate Body regrets that it was forced to take this action however given the protesters refusal to vacate the land or consider alternative options to make their protest, we were left with no choice. We took this action to protect the rights of all those who wish to use and access Parliament land and we welcome Lord Turnbull’s judgement in our favour today.” An email has now been circulated from the office of Sir Paul Grice, Holyrood's chief executive, to all MSPs expressing hope that Wednesday's judgement signals an end to the saga. It says: "I am writing to update you on the Corporate Body’s legal action to remove the protesters currently occupying part of the Parliament estate without permission. "Earlier today Lord Turnbull issued his ruling which makes clear that the protestors are occupying Parliament land unlawfully and grants the SPCB’s petition for their removal. We will now seek discussions with the protesters in early course to agree plans for a peaceful removal of the camp from Parliament property. "Throughout this process the Corporate Body has made clear that it regrets being forced to take this action. However given the protesters refusal to vacate the land or consider alternative options to make their protest, we were left with no choice. "We took this action to protect the rights of all those who wish to use and access Parliament land and we welcome Lord Turnbull’s endorsement of that position today. "I am hopeful the protesters will now respect the decision of the court and co-operate fully with the Parliamentary authorities to ensure the land is returned to public use in a planned and orderly way. "Notwithstanding this, the parliamentary authorities remain open, as we have throughout, to exploring alternative options with the group to enable them to express their views while ensuring the land remains available for the use of others. I will of course keep Members updated on our progress." The campers, however, have said they plan to appeal and hope to stay in the spot meantime. One, Dean Halliday, told the BBC that it was a "sad day for Scotland", saying the group would appeal against the judgement. He described the campers as "middle aged tea drinkers" who represent the "Yes" movement for independence, saying they had gathered outside Holyrood in response to Nicola Sturgeon asking for the "voice of the people". https://twitter.com/BBCPhilipSim/status/758258422437511168

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

Business news

Healthy goal in sight as Scottish Women’s Hockey Team gets right behind new sponsor

June 16 2017

Award-winning Graham’s The Family Dairy has swung into action with sponsorship of Scottish Hockey and the Scottish Women’s Hockey Team - as the latter continues training at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre for the upcoming World League semi-finals. As part of the partnership, the Graham’s logo will feature on the Scotland Women’s Hockey team’s shorts, and the dairy will gift the players a selection of its products throughout the year. The new sponsorship is in addition to Graham’s backing of Scottish Ballet, currently in its second year. Marketing director Carol Graham said: “Being healthy and active is hugely important to the Grahams family and, as hockey fans ourselves, we’re delighted to support the Scottish Women’s Hockey team. “As a family business, we’re always looking for ways to support local talent and partner with organisations that embody the values of our business, so this is an exciting partnership for us. "We wish the team the best of luck in Brussels and look forward to an exciting year ahead.” David Sweetman, Chief Executive Officer at Scottish Hockey, said: “Hockey is such a physically demanding sport, so the health and well-being of our players is so imperative. Dairy forms an important part of the nutritious and balanced diet of the Scotland Women’s Hockey team and we’re excited to work together with Graham’s the Family Dairy to help keep the team in peak condition in 2017.” The Scotland Women’s Hockey team took a break from training to top up their energy with pots of Graham’s Protein 22, the award-winning protein packed product from the Graham’s range. Graham’s The Family Dairy, based at Bridge of Allan, near Stirling, produces an award-winning, home-grown range of quality food and drink, including milk, cheese, cream, butter, ice-cream, cottage cheese, quark, sour cream and yogurt. Established for more than 76 years, Graham’s remains a family-run company with a focus on farming, provenance, high quality produce and a quest to promote the best of Scotland’s larder throughout the country. The company was named number one Scottish food brand, and number two Scottish brand overall in the 2016 Kantar WorldView Panel Research. The brand also retained its 2015 title of number one dairy brand in Scotland. In May Graham’s Gold Smooth won the Dairy category at the Scottish Food and Drink Excellence Awards. Feedback from the judges noted Graham’s excellent marketing activity and understanding of the marketplace, with the milk being described as a ‘luxury product’ and ‘milk like it should be’. In February last year, Graham’s was the only UK company to be honoured at the global Gulfood Innovation Awards, taking home the ‘Dairy Innovation Award’ for their new Protein 22 product. They also won the innovation award for Protein 22 at Wabel Paris in April 2017.

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Argentine family ‘deeply grateful’ after Arbroath marine sends Battle of Two Sisters relic back where it belongs

October 30 2015

The identity tag of a fallen Argentine soldier that lay in a former Angus Marine’s drawer for 33 years has been returned to his family. Graham Ellis, from Kirkton of Auchterhouse, removed the tag from the body of Assistant Sergeant Ramon Gumersindo Acosta on the battlefield in the Falkland Islands in 1982. Acosta was killed by a mortar blast following the Battle of Two Sisters, which took place over two days in June as British forces advanced toward Port Stanley. A 20-year-old member of Arbroath-based 45 Commando at the time, Mr Ellis and his unit were ordered to remove the tags from the dead bodies for identification by the Red Cross. Mr Ellis placed the tag in his pocket and only discovered it on his return to Britain. It remained in a drawer until a comrade of Mr Acosta’s saw an article on this website about Mr Ellis’s attempts to return it to the fallen soldier’s family. It was sent back to Argentina and is now with his daughter, with plans for a formal presentation by the Argentine government to take place in the near future. Mr Ellis said he was “very pleased”, while a former comrade of Mr Acosta said the family were “deeply grateful” to Mr Ellis and The Courier. Acosta was a national hero and a street bears his name in his native town of Jess Mara. He had written a letter to his five-year-old son, Diego, eight days before he died. It read: “I write from my position to tell you that two days ago we were in a helicopter which was bombed, the helicopter fell and caught fire, killing several colleagues of mine but I was saved and am now awaiting the final attack. “I saved three comrades from the flames. I tell you so you know you have a father you can be proud of and want you to keep this letter as a document if I do not return: and if I go back tomorrow, when we’re together I will read it at home.”