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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...


Archives reveal how Courier country opened its arms to Vietnamese family in need

January 18 2014

In the midst of a Dundee winter, an unexpected arrival was born miles from the homeland her parents were forced to flee. Hoai-Linh Clark’s parents were among many Vietnamese “boat people” who found a new life in Scotland after a gruelling sea voyage to escape the post-war Communist regime in the early 1980s. As her 32nd birthday approaches, Hoai-Linh, nicknamed Tina, has been investigating the strange circumstances of her birth and discovered the first picture taken of her was snapped by The Courier. Setting off from Vietnam on June 21, 1981, her refugee parents, Hoa Thi Pham and Toan Van Vu, were rescued from a small wooden boat three days out in the South China Sea. The family had no water. There were 158 people on the 36ft-long boat and during their time at sea one man drowned and an old woman died. Thankfully for the rest, a British ship found them and after a brief stop at a Singapore refugee camp, where Tina was conceived, they arrived in Montrose in October 1981. Tina’s mother and father were housed in Charleton House, a country manor in Montrose, along with 250 other Vietnamese. Finally they had beds to sleep on, donated clothes to wear and the Vietnamese families took it in turns to cook for everyone. There were also English classes run there and volunteers would take the families out to watch football or to the beach. On January 20 1982 the day Tina was born her mother, Hoa, was taken to get coats and warm clothes. Tina said: “When they left Vietnam, they weren’t prepared for the Scottish winter. “She was so excited about getting a coat, which she longed for having come from a hot country where she had never seen snow before or experienced the cold weather that Scotland had to offer. “She was also due to move into a new house having spent months in a refugee camp. When her waters broke, she wasn’t aware of the imminent birth because I wasn’t due for another month and in her poor upbringing, education was a privilege given only to the eldest son. “She continued her day, determined to get her new coat and move into her new home despite being in the later stages of labour. “In the car on the way to her new house, my mother experienced labour pains and communicated this to the Dundee helpers mostly by miming.” The volunteer who drove Hoa to Ninewells Hospital became Tina’s godfather. After contacting the Courier, an article came to light along with what Tina believes is the first photograph taken of her. We reported she was the second “boat baby” to be born in Dundee, with three being born at the Montrose estate. Tina said: “After featuring in the newspaper article, there was an influx of visitors and donations of baby clothing, which my mother was so grateful for.” The family moved into a large, new house in Ormiston Crescent, Dundee, which they shared with two younger aunties and another family of three. “My mum remembers how lovely the people of Dundee were helping us get settled. There were a lot of volunteers and translators. They liked Dundee and found the people very welcoming,” said Tina. The family stayed for two years before moving to London, where they still live, to find new work. Hoa now owns a beauty salon and Tina is a financial analyst and lives in Bristol with her husband and children.

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

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


Fife Fire and Rescue Service reports progress in fight against hoax callers

May 17 2012

The number of bogus calls to the fire service in Fife has fallen by 13% in the last year. There were 113 hoax calls in the 12 months from March 31 2011, down from 130 the previous year. Fife Fire and Rescue Service also revealed police arrested four bogus callers as a result of investigations prompted by complaints made by call handlers. Convicted hoax callers can be fined £5,000 or face custodial sentences of up to three months. Community safety crew manager Ian Dempsey said: ''All 999 calls are recorded and we now have the technology to trace all calls, even those from mobile phones. ''We could have your phone cut off and might even take you to court so expect someone to come knocking at your door if you make hoax calls.'' The number of hoax calls is thought to have fallen in the last year following the launch of a programme of education, which was prompted by a sharp rise from 88 calls in 2009/10 to 130 in 2010/11. Ian Dempsey said: ''We react to hoax calls so if we receive hoax calls in a specific area then we target the local schools in that area and educate them on the risks of making a hoax call. ''If we have identified the hoax caller, then we speak to their parents and work closely with the police to prosecute.'' Fife Fire and Rescue Service also produced a DVD, which has been handed out to school pupils. Ian Dempsey said: ''The DVD aims to highlight the serious consequences of hoax calling. Whilst we are attending these hoax calls, a house fire or road traffic collision could be developing elsewhere. ''This could cost precious seconds and minutes, which could put lives in our communities at risk. We hope that our DVD on hoax calls has been making an impact.'' Fire Brigades Union Fife branch secretary Scott McCabe said: ''There's been a significant education programme driven by FBU members. Firefighters on the ground have gone into schools and there's been a great response to the DVD. ''Running alongside that is the work that's done in control. Staff are given specialist training in how to work out whether people are bogus callers. ''This combination of education and training has delivered the reduction. This means that fire engines are not deployed if they're not required and they remain available to deal with real emergencies.''

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.

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.

Readers' letters

Starve them of the “oxygen of publicity”

October 15 2014

Sir, The emergency services, with whom I have a lifelong professional and personal association, are right to be very concerned about hoax calls. No-one can argue that their lives are on the line when they respond to all call-outs, as they do willingly, and as they did over the weekend in The Mearns. They are, however, still failing to learn a long-established, hard lesson of history the more you publicise these wretched malicious events, the more of them you are guaranteed to get. I remember a campaign run in the West of Scotland following a spate of malicious calls to the fire service. The Fire Chief involved was, rightly, determined to spare his crews the frustration and the agony of either being in fatal accidents on the way to a hoax call, or having their life-saving appliances and equipment in the wrong place. He bitterly regretted his campaign. It rebounded on him mercilessly. As he put it ruefully: “For the next month it snowed malicious calls.” Sadly, even using the education system to warn young people of the dangers of these calls may perversely sow the seed in some warped minds about the fun to be had watching fire appliances, lifeboats and helicopters respond to what are purported to be blue-light emergencies. The only good news I can see is that as telephone technology evolves, the chances improve for catching the perpetrators. In my time as a Courier reporter I attended a fatal accident outside the old JM Ballroom in Dundee. A fire engine on its way to what proved to be a hoax call, was involved in an accident with a young man out for a Saturday night’s enjoyment. The effect on his family was devastating. So, too, on the five members of the fire crew. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher albeit in a slightly different context was absolutely correct when she highlighted the one thing these low-life morons crave, namely “the oxygen of publicity.” I readily accept it must grate on the natural, reasonable responses of our emergency services to waive their right to condemn such reckless actions. It is, however, the best way forward. Sadly, even this letter may inspire another idiot to make another call. Michael Mulford. 82 Hogarth Drive, Cupar. Not as bad as 50 years ago Sir, I am sure that today’s doctors work hard but compared to 50 years ago they seem to have it much easier if you consider that surgeries are shut on bank holidays and for a long period over Christmas and new year. Also, it is a long trek to Forfar if you need a doctor overnight and worse, living in Montrose, if you have to go to hospital in Dundee. My mum ran her doctor’s practice in the Forties and Fifties. She was widowed when we were all young and within two weeks of my father’s sudden death she took over his practice in Montrose. Two teenage girls were recruited to live in and look after us so that mum could begin to run the practice. From 8am the phone would ring with patients asking for a house call or advice and by 10am she was out on her rounds. At 11.30 am she went downstairs to her surgery and consult with patients till all those waiting were seen (could be after 1pm). There were no appointments but as long as patients were in the waiting room by 12.30pm they would be seen. Afternoons were out doing more home visits. The second surgery began at 5pm and often lasted until after 7pm. She was on call most nights but managed to get alternate weekends off. How she managed seems like a miracle. Alison Williamson. The Glasshouse, Montrose. Let’s have this EU referendum Sir, Another good article by Ewan Pate (Farming, October 13). The extent to which so called “greening” in my opinion, much of it based on foolish science and misplaced environmentalism is now affecting our very food production is alarming. From reading other farming authors, it is apparent to me that the EU agricultural subsidy system (CAP) is one big mess. We must allow our farmers to farm. Food, along with a sound public water supply, are essential to our lives, never mind our general comfort. I would suggest that the UK returns to a system of subsidising our own farming communities (as in former times) and leaving the CAP. This would kill several birds with one stone apologies to RSPB. We could reduce our own contribution to the EU part of the UK’s desired reform package. We could reduce the huge (expensive) bureaucracy which has “crept” into agriculture leaving more funds for farming assistance. Or other things. Get rid of the on field “greening” nonsense. From my own lay experience this has created little more than acres of wholly unwanted weeds of the nastiest varieties whose seeds, when wind driven, require even more herbicide! Not in the old days when farmers farmed. Mr Pate makes the excellent point that, from his own travels, it is clear that other EU countries pay scant attention to Brussels and get away with it. Need for reform? Of course. Let us have this EU referendum. A T Geddie. 68 Carleton Avenue, Glenrothes. Why did it take so long . . . ? Sir, Tesco tell me that I will save the planet by paying 5p for each of their plastic bags from October 20. Why was this simple solution not discovered before now? Malcolm Parkin. 15 Gamekeepers Road, Kinnesswood, Kinross.