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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...

Perth & Kinross

‘Once in a generation’ opportunity to snap up £9.6 million Perthshire estate

September 10 2015

With Downton Abbey set to return to our screens later this month, many TV fans could be forgiven for wondering what it would be like to own their own estate. Now would-be lords of the manor have the opportunity to snap up their own country pile in a “once in a generation” opportunity. Kinnaird Estate in Perthshire has come on the market for offers over £9.6 million. The 6,000-acre property, which is near Dunkeld, is being sold by the daughters of American heiress Constance Ward. Constance was married to the late Reginald Ward, son of Sir John and Lady Ward who bought Kinnaird in 1927 and used it as a sporting estate and lodge, visiting Perthshire for the seasons for about 10 weeks of the year. When Reginald passed away, Constance moved to Kinnaird permanently, moving into Balmacneil House on the estate and opening Kinnaird House as a five-star hotel in 1990. The house, which was latterly being run as a luxury guest house, is included in the sale, as are a total of 15 additional estate houses and cottages from which a holiday lettings business is run. The estate also allows hunters the opportunity of bagging a “MacNab” a stag, a salmon and a brace of grouse on the same day as it includes shooting and fishing rights. Rebecca Boswell, of Bidwells, which is marketing the estate, said: “The sale presents a very rare opportunity to buy one of the most sought after and accessible sporting estates in Scotland. “Together with Knight Frank we are delighted to be offering this property for sale as it has great diversity with a range of land types, income streams, sporting and residential assets. It is difficult to imagine a more rounded estate in Scotland.” The first recorded history of Kinnaird is from the early 1600s when it was acquired by a family called Stewart. Debts forced the family to sell in 1773 and Kinnaird was bought by Mr Colquhoun Grant. After a time it was passed to Grant’s brother, Dr Gregory Grant, an Edinburgh physician. Dr Grant held the estate for a fairly short period and in 1798 Mr Chalmers Izzet, a prominent Edinburgh hatter, bought Kinnaird and started building the current house.

Perth & Kinross

Pricey Perthshire is top of the plots

October 5 2015

Perthshire has emerged on top of the pile in a new list of Scotland’s priciest estates. The region boasts seven of the top 10 most expensive sites on the market, a study has revealed. The 6,200-acre Kinnaird Estate, near Pitlochry, tops the rundown with offers over £9.6 million. The plot comes with 16 properties, three lochs and expansive countryside for deer stalking and grouse shooting. It is being marketed as a “once in a generation” opportunity by sellers Knight Frank. Runner-up is Dall, on the shore of Loch Rannoch, which has seen its price tag soar from £6m to £7.5m in the space of a year. Also making the top 10 is Dungarthill, near Dunkeld. Selling agents CKD Galbraith are looking for offers of more than £5m. The 5,700-acre Milton of Kincraigie and Craignuisq, also near Dunkeld, and Dalmunzie at Spittal of Glenshee, are both being offered for more than £4m, while the Ava estate in Blairgowrie has a fixed price tag of £4m. The Tower of Lethandy near Meikleour, which has its own golf course, remains on the market with a £4.6m price tag. The estate had been reportedly eyed up by singer Taylor Swift, although she later denied she was looking to buy it. The top 10 list was compiled by the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, which reported that some of the country’s wealthiest landowners were putting their properties on the market amid unprecedented interest from overseas. Traditionally foreign buyers were responsible for one in every five estate sales, but they account for half of the 11 properties sold or put under offer in the first nine months of this year. There are 24 residential or sporting estates on the market in Scotland, a portfolio worth nearly £80m. Land reform campaigner Andy Wightman said: “In midsummer, I would expect there to be around a dozen to 15 estates for sale and this is October, which is not the time you try and sell.”

Farming news

Moredun makes case to be home of key veterinary surveillance lab

December 10 2013

The Moredun Research Institute has made a strong pitch to become the home of Scotland’s new central veterinary surveillance laboratory. Speaking to the agricultural press ahead of the release of the institute’s annual report, chief executive Julie Fitzpatrick took the chance to point out the benefits of using facilities which already exist at the Moredun site. Professor Fitzpatrick has been widely admired over the years for her tenacity and determination to keep the Moredun as a pre-eminent force in the science of animal health. Her point has always been that although the institute may be small in global terms, it has the ability to deliver top-class services. The need for a centralised veterinary surveillance laboratory was identified in the Kinnaird Report of 2011. Compiled under the chairmanship of former NFU Scotland president John Kinnaird and presented to Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochead, the report made a number of fundamental recommendations aimed at improving veterinary surveillance, one of the most critical being the need for a central laboratory to eventually replace the eight currently in operation around the country. Prof Fitzpatrick, who clearly has the backing of Moredun Foundation chairman Ian Duncan Millar, made a strong case for the new laboratory to be sited at Moredun. A large, secure laboratory space previously used for BSE testing is available, and infrastructure modifications would be minimal compared to building a new laboratory on a greenfield site. Moredun also has scientific staff available with the skills required for diagnostic work. The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratory Agency (AHLVA) already uses the diagnostic facilities at Moredun. “We suggest that Scottish Rural College (SRUC) staff should also use this existing facility for centralised diagnostics so that staff may share resources to the benefit of both the tax payer and the livestock-owning communities,” said Prof Fitzpatrick. “This initiative would bring significant cost savings as there would be no requirement for funding of new specialised infrastructure that would replicate existing facilities. “The number of administrative, support and laboratory staff could be optimised over time for all three surveillance organisations SRUC, AHVLA and MRI with a reduction in recurrent costs,” she said. “Another benefit would be that specialised veterinary and animal science staff involved in diagnostics would be located on a single site, which will produce savings in the longer term. “Reporting could be undertaken by a team approach by the three surveillance organisations to ensure rapid and cost-effective communications with animal keepers, veterinary practitioners, Government and national and international bodies. “Succession planning and training of specialised staff would therefore be easier, and the sustainability of surveillance underpinned. “Specialised laboratory facilities are available at the Moredun Research Institute in the same building, including those for pathology, detection of parasites, viruses, bacteria, prions, affecting livestock, avian, and equine species.” It is no doubt a strong case but there is sure to be competition, and some of it from just a stone’s throw away from the Moredun’s home at the Pentland Science Centre at Bush south of Edinburgh. The Kinnaird Report certainly mentioned Moredun as the home for the new laboratory, but it also suggested the Edinburgh (Royal Dick) Veterinary School which is also at Bush. The Roslin Institute is only a mile away, as is Edinburgh University bioscience centre. Glasgow Vet School may also be interested, and of course SRUC and its SAC Veterinary Consulting division already have an interest as operators of the present regional veterinary laboratories. The Kinnaird Report suggested that these laboratories, including one at Perth, should not be closed immediately and that they should continue to offer post-mortem facilities, with samples then being sent to the central laboratory for diagnosis. The two-year time lag since the presentation of the Kinnaird Report may have suggested to the casual onlooker that it had been shelved, but it appears that is not the case. Mr Lochhead has decisions to make quite soon. The MRI team clearly want to be part of the solution when it comes to improved veterinary surveillance.

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


Kinnaird Estate table sells for £185,000 at auction

July 2 2010

An Irish table from Kinnaird Estate in Perthshire made £185,000 or £232,250 with auction premium a record price for an Irish table. The mahogany table dates from 1750 and was brought to Kinnaird by Lady Jean Ward, the wife of Sir John Ward, second son of William Ward, Viscount Ednam and 1st Earl of Dudley. Lady Jean Ward was the daughter of Whitelaw Reid, the American ambassador to the Court of St James's from 1905-1912. Lee Young, specialist at Lyon & Turnbull, said the table had been bought by an anonymous buyer but added that it will be going overseas. Other items from Kinnaird sold at Lyon & Turnbull included a painting which fetched £64,000. The 1767 work by Dominic Serres was thought to be of the British fleet off Portsmouth. But Elena Ratcheva, head of paintings research, found it is a lost work and one of 12 by the artist depicting the campaign to win Havana during the seven years war in 1762.

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Perth & Kinross

Classic cars to travel over historic Highland Perthshire bridge

March 4 2017

Around 50 classic cars will travel over a historic community-owned Highland Perthshire bridge this weekend. The Logierait bridge, which used to carry the Ballinluig to Aberfeldy rail line, will be the setting on Sunday for around 50 cars taking part in the Saltire Classic Car rally. The former rail bridge closed on May 1 1965 as a result of the infamous Beeching cuts but became community-owned in 2000 at a cost of around £400,000, and has survived thanks to generous subscriptions from various people and businesses. It's understood to be Scotland's only former rail bridge that is community-owned. Last year, the bridge saw classic cars from the Scottish Malts Trial and Tour rally travel over it. Sunday's rally will start and finish at the Blair Atholl distillery in Pitlochry. John Fry, of the Logierait Bridge committee, said the various car event organisers favour using the bridge due to its historical significance. “The bridge is historic and so are these cars that travel over it,” he said. “We had the Scottish Malts Trial and Tour rally over here last year and this year we will see the Saltire Classic Car rally, which will be great. We’ll also have the Flying Scotsman Car rally here next month, which will be fantastic.” And he highlighted the community effort required to maintain the bridge. “The area suffered a big flood in December 2015 and the approach road to the Logierait Bridge was washed away," he added. "It’s cost around £20,000 to fix so that gobbled up a lot of money. “However, we’re really grateful to all our subscribers and also the assistance we got from Sustrans. They got involved as the bridge is part of Sustrans National Cycle network.” In 2015, local residents marked the 50th anniversary of the closure of the former rail bridge. The Tay viaduct passed into the hands of the Kinnaird Estate in 1964. Then, in 1994, the estate gifted it to the local community which founded the Logierait Bridge Company.

Perth & Kinross

Beeching victim to be celebrated in Perthshire

May 5 2015

A bridge spanning the River Tay that was closed as part of the infamous Beeching cuts is to be at the centre of rail celebrations. The 50th anniversary of the closure of Logierait Bridge, which carried the Ballinluig to Aberfeldy branch line in Perthshire, was marked on Friday. The bridge closed on May 1 1965 as a result of the Beeching cuts the reduction of the rail route network in the UK. In 1964 the Tay viaduct passed into the hands of the Kinnaird Estate and 30 years later the land was gifted to the local community, who founded the Logierait Bridge Company. At the turn of the millennium the bridge was restored at a cost of around £400,000 and reopened as a community-owned road bridge. Latterly it has been used by cars, tractors, delivery vans and horses, and is part of the Sustrans National Cycle network. Locals said as many as 200 vehicles were recently recorded making the bridge crossing in a day. John Fry, of the Logierait Bridge Company committee, said: “Despite this heavy usage, maintenance of the bridge is met very largely from subscriptions and donations from local residents and businesses. “On June 20 a celebration is to be held at the bridge to mark 150th year of the opening of the branch line and the 50th anniversary of the last train to cross this splendid old bridge.”

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