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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

UK & World

PM and Irish Taoiseach to hold face-to-face meeting

March 22 2018

Prime Minister Theresa May is to hold a bilateral meeting with the Irish Taoiseach in Brussels later on Thursday.The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is one of the most vexing issues facing Brexit negotiators.Irish premier Leo Varadkar is hoping to agree guidelines on the future relationship between the EU and UK at this week’s European Council summit of leaders, with the focus on progress in the negotiations.On Monday the UK and EU agreed terms for a transition period.The draft text of a withdrawal treaty includes an agreement that there must be a backstop solution to ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland if no other answers are found.The Irish Government has insisted the UK has provided a “cast-iron guarantee” that will ensure no physical infrastructure, checks or controls at the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic after withdrawal.Without any other broader trade solution, Northern Ireland would continue to follow EU regulations which affect the island.Most of the detail around how the border arrangements would operate have not been agreed.Mr Varadkar said: “On Friday we will meet in Article 50 format to discuss the Brexit negotiations.“This is an important moment in the Article 50 negotiations and it is hoped that we can agree guidelines on the future relationship between the EU and the UK.“I am pleased that the UK has now agreed that a backstop solution to avoid a hard border proposed in December, will form part of the legal text, and that all the issues identified by the EU side in the draft will be addressed, to deliver a legally sound solution to avoid a hard border on our island.“Prime Minister May confirmed this in a letter to (European Council) President (Donald) Tusk on Monday.”Discussions over Thursday and Friday will also focus on jobs, growth and competitiveness, external relations, the future of Europe and particularly digital taxation, and further and better economic and monetary union.On Thursday, European leaders will discuss and adopt conclusions on jobs, growth, competitiveness including the Single Market, social issues, and trade.They will also consider external relations including Turkey and the Western Balkans.Leaders’ discussions are intended to facilitate open exchanges of views on the future of Europe.Mr Varadkar added: “The main focus this evening will be on digital taxation.“We believe that global solutions are needed to ensure that tax is paid by companies where value is created and profits are generated, reflecting the highly international nature of the digital economy.“I will strongly argue that the EU should wait for the OECD to complete its work before deciding on how to act, and should only do so in the context of agreement on an international level.”

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

UK & World

Irish stew on the menu as Harry and Meghan visit Belfast’s Crown Liquor Saloon

March 23 2018

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry embraced the culture of Northern Ireland during a visit to one of Belfast’s most famous buildings – by sitting down to a traditional Irish pub lunch.The American actress and her fiance, on a whirlwind trip to the region, toured the Crown Liquor Saloon – a major tourist attraction in the city.Earlier, they received a rapturous welcome from thousands of young people when they visited the former Maze paramilitary prison outside Lisburn, where teenagers from both sides of the Irish border had gathered for a peace-building event.Ms Markle revealed that they had been anticipating their trip to the well-known Victorian gin palace, which is owned by the National Trust (NT) and famed for its ornate decorations.Harry joked with Heather McLachlan, the National Trust’s director for Northern Ireland, asking “Are you open?”, before declaring “We want food”.His fiancee added: “We saw the menu last week, and said ‘We’ll have this’.”The couple marvelled at the pub, which features period gas lighting, a red marble-topped bar, mosaic tiled floor and snugs – ornately carved wooden booths with stained glass where Victorian drinkers could sit in private.Looking up at the ornate ceiling, Harry said: “It’s amazing, it really is.”The antique bell system that drinkers used to call staff still exists and may have been used by the couple to order their lunch of Irish stew in a snug.Ms Markle looked stylish in a cream coat by Mackage, a dark green dress by Greta Constantine, a cream top by Victoria Beckham, tobacco heels by Jimmy Choo teamed with a tan-coloured Charlotte Elizabeth bag.

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.

Rocktalk

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.

UK & World

Irish Taoiseach hopes to agree EU-UK guidelines

March 22 2018

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hopes to agree guidelines on the future relationship between the EU and UK at this week’s European Council summit.Discussions in Brussels between European leaders on Friday will focus on progress in the Brexit negotiations.On Monday the UK and EU agreed terms for a Brexit transition period.The draft text of a withdrawal treaty includes an agreement that there must be a backstop solution to ensure that there is no hard border on the island of Ireland if no other answers are found.The Irish Government has insisted the UK has provided a “cast-iron guarantee” that will ensure no physical infrastructure, checks, or controls at the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic after withdrawal,Without any other broader trade solution Northern Ireland would continue to follow EU regulations which affect the island.Most of the detail around how the border arrangements would operate have not been agreed.Mr Varadkar said: “On Friday we will meet in Article 50 format to discuss the Brexit negotiations.“This is an important moment in the Article 50 negotiations and it is hoped that we can agree guidelines on the future relationship between the EU and the UK.“I am pleased that the UK has now agreed that a backstop solution to avoid a hard border proposed in December, will form part of the legal text, and that all the issues identified by the EU side in the draft will be addressed, to deliver a legally sound solution to avoid a hard border on our island.“Prime Minister May confirmed this in a letter to President Tusk on Monday.”Discussions over Thursday and Friday will also focus on jobs, growth and competitiveness, external relations, the future of Europe and particularly digital taxation, and further and better economic and monetary union.On Thursday European leaders will discuss and adopt conclusions on jobs, growth, competitiveness including the Single Market, social issues, and trade.They will also consider external relations including Turkey and the Western Balkans.Leaders’ discussions are intended to facilitate open exchanges of views on the future of Europe.Mr Varadkar added: “The main focus this evening will be on digital taxation.“We believe that global solutions are needed to ensure that tax is paid by companies where value is created and profits are generated, reflecting the highly international nature of the digital economy.“I will strongly argue that the EU should wait for the OECD to complete its work before deciding on how to act, and should only do so in the context of agreement on an international level.”

UK & World

Nightclub removes offensive billboard of female golfer

May 14 2018

An Irish nightclub has taken down an offensive billboard of a woman, a senator said.The advert featured the back of a woman golfer’s body with the message “Libertys: Your 19th hole for the summer”.Liberty’s is a club in Buncrana in Co Donegal. Golf’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is due to be held nearby in July.Sinn Fein senator Padraig Mac Lochlainn said: “This large billboard sign on the approach to my home town of Buncrana is just plain offensive to women.“And it is offensive to men who respect the women in their lives.“If it was shock value publicity they were seeking, then mission accomplished.”The advert faced a backlash on social media.The club did not immediately return requests for comment.Mr Mac Lochlainn added: “Thank you to the management of Libertys for listening to your local community and respectfully taking down the billboard sign in Buncrana.“This is not a bit of a laugh any more. Society has changed.“All of us men need to step up and see that all women deserve respect, not just our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives or partners.”Golf’s Irish Open will be held in Ballyliffin in Co Donegal from 5-8 July.It is hosted by four-time major winner Rory McIlroy’s Rory Foundation.

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