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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

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Customers raise a pint of Bell Rock Light to toast pride of Arbroath

February 19 2011

Customers at an Arbroath pub had the chance to exclusively sample a new type of ale this week -- brewed especially to mark the Year of the Light celebrations. A series of events to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Bell Rock lighthouse have been organised and the aptly named Bell Rock Light has gone on sale at The Corn Exchange on Market Place, a branch of Wetherspoons. Harry Simpson, chairman of the Year of the Light steering committee, said he hoped the product would encourage an even greater number of people to take an interest in the world's oldest remaining offshore lighthouse. The beer, which was manufactured at Carnoustie micro brewery Angus Ales, may go on sale in other Tayside branches of the chain if it proves popular in Arbroath. Mr Simpson said, "We had the idea of manufacturing a Bell Rock beer and we're very grateful that Wetherspoons agreed to help us promote it because the lighthouse anniversary is a massive thing for Arbroath. Hopefully it will be popular enough to be sold for the whole year." Richard Leith, Wetherspoons area manager for Tayside, said the chain was pleased to support the committee and raise awareness of pioneering engineering work involved in the Bell Rock's construction.

Angus & The Mearns

Gerard Butler to portray an Arbroath lighthouse keeper who vanished mysteriously

January 6 2017

An Arbroath lighthouse keeper whose death is surrounded in mystery is set to be portrayed by Hollywood A-lister Gerard Butler in a new film. Butler will play James Ducat, who was one of three men to vanish without a trace from the island of Eilean Mor in the Outer Hebrides in 1900. Ducat, a 43-year-old with more than 20 years' experience in lighthouse keeping, had arrived on the deserted island to man the lighthouse with two other men, Thomas Marshall and Donald McArthur. Just a few weeks into their stint, on December 15, a passing steamer on passage from Philadelphia to Leith noticed that the light was not working, which it reported three days later when it docked in Oban. A relief vessel, the Hesperus, carrying supplies and a relief lighthouse keeper Joseph Moore, had been due to arrive on Eilean Mor on December 20 but had been delayed until Boxing Day due to rough seas and dangerous weather. Mr Moore rowed to shore and found the lighthouse which was in complete darkness. Inside the beds were unmade and the clock had stopped. A chair had been overturned and a pair of oilskins was still on its hook, indicating that one of the three men had gone outside without dressing for the wild winter weather. There was no sign of Ducat or the other men. In the days after the discovery of the abandoned lighthouse, the crew of the Hesperus made thorough searches of the island, hoping to find a clue. At one of the harbours they discovered considerable damage, with part of an iron rail wrenched out of the concrete and a rock estimated to weigh a ton dislodged. Turf on top of a 200ft cliff had been ripped away from the edge but there were no sign of any of the men. The lighthouse log was kept up to date until December 15. The final entry read: ‘Storm ended, sea calm. God is over all.’ However in the days running up to the men’s disappearance some strange entries had been made. One said ‘James Ducat irritable’ another said ‘Donald McArthur crying’. At the time an investigation concluded that they had probably be swept away; however an investigation in 2014 by historian Keith McCloskey speculated that their deaths may have been the result of a physical confrontation between the principal lighthouse keeper Ducat and McArthur a part-timer who would have been treated as a dogsbody. He suggested that Thomas Marshall attempted to come between them and caused all three to lose their footing on the cliff. Filming is expected to start early this year for Keepers, based on the mystery. It will also star Scots actor Peter Mullan and will be directed by Kristoffer Nyholm, a director of Danish television drama The Killing. The plot of Keepers suggests that the men stumble upon something that isn’t theirs to keep. A battle for survival ensues as personal greed replaces loyalty and three honest men are led down a path to destruction. Director Nyholm calls the film “a journey from innocence to animalistic survival”. The mystery of Eilean Mor has previously inspired an episode of Doctor Who entitled Horror of Fang Rock, which explained the mystery with an alien abduction.   "An unprecedented calamity" The Courier reported the Eilean Mor lighthouse mystery in its paper on December 28 1900, describing it as an “unprecedented calamity” in the history of the Northern Lighthouse Commission. The article speculated that the incident happened during the day and that it is possible the men had been blown off the cliffs. The report said: “As the regulations enforce that one man must remain in the lighthouse at night, this would seem to point to the disaster having taken place during the day. “The unfortunate fellows must have been blown over the cliffs or drowned trying to secure the crane on the island. “It is also possible that they might have gone to the relief of some fishing boat in distress.” It added that the view that the men had met their fate by trying to secure a crane was also the thoughts of the Northern Lighthouse Board commissioner. That night’s Evening Telegraph revealed that one of the men was from Arbroath, stating he had been a ‘pupil-teacher’ at Chapelton School in Inverkeilor before working as a clerk at coal merchants Messrs Thomas Muir, Son & Patton in Arbroath. He was then a clerk for Mr Lackie, ironmonger, in Montrose before working for 20 years as a lighthouse keeper. He had worked in the role at St Abb’s Head, Girdleness, Scurdyness, Loch Ryan and the Isle of Man. It noted that Mr Ducat had a wife and four children as well as a father who still lived in Arbroath. The family later received the proceeds of certain life insurance policies and Mr Ducat’s wife also received a small pension.

Angus & The Mearns

Gerard Butler casting a ‘dream’ for Arbroath tale’s writer

January 9 2017

The writer of a new Hollywood movie has described the casting of Gerard Butler as an Arbroath lighthouse keeper as “a dream come true”. As revealed in The Courier on Friday, Butler will play James Ducat, who was one of three men to vanish without a trace from the island of Eilean Mor in the Outer Hebrides in 1900. Ducat, a 43-year-old with more than 20 years’ experience in lighthouse keeping, had arrived on the deserted island to man the lighthouse with two other men, Thomas Marshall and Donald McArthur. It has been more than a century since the Eilean Mor lighthouse keepers’ mysterious disappearance and the true events of what happened to the men remain unknown. Joe Bone, who made a name for himself as the star of the one-man Bruce Bane stage play series, wrote Keepers with fellow actor Celyn Jones, who he met on the set of BBC television drama, Castles in the Sky, in 2013. He said: “The script took about 18 months to do but it all started about 10 years ago, as I was sitting on the downs watching the revolving beam of St Catherine’s Lighthouse. “It got me thinking about what was going on inside there. “I then discovered the tale of Flannan Isle and the keepers who went missing, never to be seen again. “What a yarn, I thought. “That could make a great movie.” Joe said he and Celyn had already compiled a wish list of who they would want in the film if it ever got the green light — and Butler and Mullan were on it. “It’s a complete dream come true,” he said. “This sort of thing doesn’t happen with your first attempt.” The plot of Keepers suggests that the men stumble upon something that isn’t theirs to keep. A battle for survival ensues as personal greed replaces loyalty and three honest men are led down a path to destruction. Director Nyholm calls the film “a journey from innocence to animalistic survival”. The mystery of Eilean Mor has previously inspired an episode of Doctor Who entitled Horror of Fang Rock, which explained the mystery with an alien abduction. The Courier reported the Eilean Mor lighthouse mystery in its paper on December 28 1900, describing it as an “unprecedented calamity” in the history of the Northern Lighthouse Commission. The article speculated that the incident happened during the day and that it is possible the men had been blown off the cliffs. The lighthouse log was kept up to date until December 15. The final entry read: ‘Storm ended, sea calm. God is over all.’ However in the days running up to the men’s disappearance some strange entries had been made. One said ‘James Ducat irritable’ another said ‘Donald McArthur crying’. Mr Ducat had a wife and four children as well as a father who still lived in Arbroath. The family later received the proceeds of certain life insurance policies and Mr Ducat’s wife also received a small pension.

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

Angus & The Mearns

Princess Anne shows support for Bell Rock Lighthouse celebrations

February 7 2011

The Princess Royal made a secret trip to the Bell Rock Lighthouse last week to mark Arbroath's Year of the Light celebrations. Princess Anne, who has been fascinated by lighthouses since she was a girl, made the private visit aboard the Northern Lighthouse Board vessel Pharos, named after the seventh wonder of the world, the famed lighthouse of Alexandria. The Princess Royal sailed around the lighthouse before hosting a reception at the Palace of Holyroodhouse to mark the 200th anniversary of Robert Stevenson's masterpiece. It's the second time in just under a year that the Princess Royal has sailed around Bell Rock, which stands 11 miles off the coast of the Angus town. She made the trip in 2010 on Pharos, accompanied by chairman of the commissioners of Northern Lighthouses Sir Andrew Cubie. Princess Anne has a passion for lighthouses, known as pharology, which goes back to a childhood visit with her mother to Tiumpan Head on Lewis. In the years since, she has visited many of Scotland's 209 lighthouses on official and private visits and bagged more in the run-up to her 60th birthday last August on the Queen's Western Isles cruise. Harry Simpson, chairman of the Year of the Light steering committee, and Angus community planning officer Janet Russell, attended the event at Holyroodhouse and spoke to Princess Anne about the bicentenary celebrations in Arbroath. "She is very interested in what we are doing in Arbroath to celebrate the 200th anniversary," Mr Simpson said. "That makes everything we are doing worthwhile. "It was a very prestigious event and it was an honour to be there representing the steering committee and the people of Arbroath. The whole evening was about the Bell Rock Lighthouse and the Princess Royal was actually out there on the Pharos around the Bell Rock.Knowledgeable"She's been in the Bell Rock before and she's very knowledgeable in all the things she does. She gave a speech and talked about the Bell Rock Lighthouse, the Stevenson family and all the history behind it. "It was a wonderful night and Tuesday's fireworks display was also fresh in my mind. It's all happened very, very quickly and I know that everything else that's happening during the Year of the Light will be a massive success." Princess Anne, as patron of the Northern Lighthouse Board, was in Edinburgh again on Friday, attending the bicentenary conference, The Bell Rock Lighthouse, The Stevensons And Emerging Issues In Aids To Navigation. The world's oldest sea-rock lighthouse stands 115ft 10in high and its light is visible from 35 miles inland. Its light first shone on February 1, 1811, having taken 110 men four years to build. Arbroath and Area Partnership's Year of the Light steering committee has planned a series of special events to celebrate the bicentenary, including boat trips to the Bell Rock.

News

Bell Rock Lighthouse featured in national museum’s Shining Lights exhibition

October 23 2010

The Bell Rock Lighthouse 11 miles off the Arbroath coast and one of the wonders of the engineering world is featured in a new exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Shining Lights: The Story of Scotland's Lighthouses tells of the people who designed, built and operated the country's lighthouses, lighting a safe passage for mariners along the jagged and dangerous coastline for more than 250 years. The exhibition will feature many objects from the National Museum's collections unseen for over two decades, including spectacular giant optics, lighthouse models, beacons, photographs, books and charts dating from as far back as the 17th century. A series of interactive exhibits will further explain the development of lighthouse technology right up to the present day. The exhibition also marks next year's 200th anniversary of the lighting of the Bell Rock the world's oldest surviving rock lighthouse. Designed by Robert Stevenson, the building of the lighthouse was an astonishing feat of engineering that marked the coming of age of the Stevenson family's connection with Scottish lighthouses. Almost all of Scotland's 208 lighthouses were developed, designed and built by a member of this engineering dynasty whose talents contributed significantly to scientific and technological development across the world. The family's impressive credentials are a central part of the exhibition. Principal curator Alison Morrison-Low said, "Lighthouses remain some of our best-loved landmarks and we believe visitors will be fascinated to see and hear about their history, from the Scottish engineering ingenuity involved to the personal stories of the men and women who kept the lights shining for passing mariners. "The lighting of the Bell Rock 200 years ago was a tremendously important development, both for lighthouse technology in general and for the Stevensons, Scotland's lighthouse family. We're delighted to be able to mark the anniversary with such an important exhibition." Broadcaster, historian and author Neil Oliver is also looking forward to the exhibition. He said, "As someone who has swum out to the Eddystone Lighthouse and slept in the most remote lighthouse in Britain I have a real love for these beautiful, dramatic and amazing structures. "I'm glad that Scotland's vital role in the creation of lighthouses will be told in this exciting exhibition and I'm really looking forward to seeing it for myself." Shining Lights: The Story of Scotland's Lighthouses runs from October 15 to April 3 at the National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh.Find out more at the national museum's website.

Fife

Beamer Rock lighthouse could have bright future as ‘iconic gateway’ to Fife

January 21 2014

A historic lighthouse which was removed to make way for the new Queensferry Crossing has the potential to become an iconic gateway to Fife, according to an MSP. Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, has called on Transport Scotland to bring forward firm proposals for the future sighting of the Beamer Rock lighthouse. Ms Smith has backed calls for the lighthouse to be sighted in Fife, with North Queensferry in pole position to become the future home for the tower. The Beamer Rock lighthouse was built in 1826 and was removed in 2011 in order for the rock to become the base of the new Queensferry Crossing’s central tower. Ms Smith has written to Transport Scotland calling on them to bring forward proposals for the permanent siting of the Beamer Rock lighthouse. She said: “The reconstruction of the Beamer Rock lighthouse has the potential to become an iconic gateway to Fife as well as preserving what was one of Scotland’s most recognised lighthouses. “The lighthouse was removed in 2011 and since then the future location of the lighthouse has not been clear. “As far as I am aware the lighthouse has been put into storage, however its future is currently uncertain. “There is clearly a strong case for the lighthouse to be sited in Fife given the historical links with the northern shore of the Forth especially at Rosyth dockyard, where most of the shipping which used the light was headed. “The lighthouse has been a significant part of marine history in the Forth for almost 200 years. “I believe the time has come for Transport Scotland to outline their proposals for the siting of the lighthouse.” A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “In recognition of its historical value, Beamer Rock lighthouse was carefully removed from the Firth of Forth as part of the FRC project. “We understand that Fife Council are independently examining the feasibility of its relocation in Fife.” Work is well under way to construct the new 1.7 mile bridge which will be a cable-stayed structure with three towers.

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