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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

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

New boat takes to the waters of Loch Tay

March 10 2017

For the first time in 70 years visitors to Perthshire’s largest loch will be able to enjoy the rich wildlife and heritage of the area while cruising on the water. A brand new, custom-built 12-seater boat which will allow visitors to discover and explore the loch has been launched by Loch Tay Safaris. The enterprise is the first time a commercial vessel has sailed the 15-mile long loch, which lies between Killin and Kenmore, since the Queen of the Lake ceased operations at the outbreak of the Second World War. The boat has been named Iolaire, which means eagle in Gaelic and was also the name of Donald Riddell’s great grandfather’s steam yacht, which served as an anti-submarine vessel in the First World War. Along with his wife Julie, Mr Riddell  operates Highland Safaris which has established itself as a popular visitor attraction. Based next to the village of Dull, it started with a Land Rover Safari experience in the local mountains to explore wildlife, landscape and history. “Both of our families have connections with the loch and its surrounding areas stretching back, to be able to bring it back to life with Loch Tay Safaris is incredibly exciting,” said Mr Riddell. Long and narrow with steep sides, Loch Tay is one of the deepest in Scotland. Less famous than lochs Lomond and Ness, it is rich in history, heritage and mythology which made Loch Tay the perfect location for the new venture. During the 90-minute cruise the skipper will point out the loch’s nature and wildlife while passengers can sit back and absorb the history and folklore that dates back to the Iron Age. They will be able to listen to tales of the ancient settlers who lived on Loch Tay almost 2,500 years ago, and hear of the Victorian pleasure steamers that once cruised the waters with crowds of day trippers enjoying the views.

Perth & Kinross

Proposal to use Loch Tay Safari boat for water emergencies

May 15 2017

Proposals to incorporate a commercial tour boat into the 999 coverage for part of Highland Perthshire could save lives, it has been claimed. Loch Tay Safaris operates the largest boat on Loch Tay, an area with notoriously poor mobile phone coverage. Locals have put forward the idea of using the craft and its on-board radio to improve safety coverage in the area, a move that has already been given the seal of approval by the local community council. The boat has the capacity to carry 12 passengers and can get from one end of the 15-mile loch to the other in around 20 minutes. Donald Riddell, who owns Loch Tay Safaris, said that if they could help without leaving customers in the lurch then they would be willing to do so. “We’ve been asked to look into it — we’ve managed to have a meeting with the mountain rescue, who have put us in touch with the policing unit which covers Loch Tay,” he said. “We already provide a bit of resilience for the mountain rescue so we are certainly willing to do it, as any good community-minded person would do. As far as I am aware, there isn’t any safety cover on the loch at the moment. “Our boat has an immense amount of capability compared to any other boat on the loch. It’s the biggest and fastest boat on the loch, and it’s got radar, depth sounder, chart plotter, communications — our marine radio connects back to base, so we can cover the whole loch. “In a Highland setting phones don’t work a lot of the time, so having a radio which can be used from 15 miles away is quite important. “If it happens I’d hope it would save lives. Being on-site with good equipment, which can get to somebody in distress fast, would be a huge benefit to the local community and people on the loch.” The proposition has been welcomed by local councillor Mike Williamson. He said: “I think it’s an excellent idea — there’s an awful lot of activities that go on on Loch Tay. The community has been looking for an emergency boat for a number of years and this ticks a lot of boxes. “The fire service keeps its kit in Perth but if someone goes missing on the loch then speed is of the essence and having an asset based on the loch could save lives.”


Cruising on Loch Tay

August 12 2017

A boat trip that brings the heritage and history of Loch Tay to life is a summer must-do. Gayle braves the rain and enjoys a cruise with a difference Driving to Kenmore through a torrential downpour, I’m a tad worried the boat trip I’ve booked on Loch Tay will be a wet washout. I need not have fretted though, as the custom-built boat is a cabin RIB – perfect for keeping passengers cosy and dry. Billed as a history, heritage and folklore cruise, the first trip with the brand spanking new boat was launched in April by Aberfeldy-based Highland Safaris. It seems the rain has put a lot of people off today, so I’m lucky enough to have the 12-seater vessel to myself. Greeted on board by skipper Alex Martin and crewman Hamish Brown, the guys kit me out in a life jacket and run through a brief safety induction. As we putter out into the middle of the loch, Hamish regales me with fun facts. “Loch Tay is the sixth largest loch in Scotland at almost 15 miles long and around 520ft deep at its deepest point,” he says. “The top speed the boat reaches is 42 knots, which is about 50mph – it’s one of the fastest boats on the loch. “But this is about enjoying the cruise, seeing the sights and learning about the area’s heritage and history.” We pick up speed as we head towards Priory Island, and here, Hamish comes into his own. “At one time, the priory was occupied by nuns who came ashore to Kenmore once a year – to get drunk in the pub,” he beams. “And back in the 12th century, Queen Sybilla died on the island. Then Clan Campbell built a fort there in the 16th century, the ruins of which still stand today.” As a thick mist covers the loch and surrounding area, visibility is limited, but the lads are full of information about the Highland Clearances, and Ben Lawers, which towers nearby, although we can’t see it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rU9VV8zyf14   They’re hugely keen on their myths and legends, and take great relish in telling us about the Lady of Lawers, a soothsayer from the late 17th century. “There are still three prophesies that remain unfulfilled,” says Hamish, with a cheeky wink. “One is that a ship driven by smoke will sink in the loch with great loss of life.” Let’s hope that one doesn’t come true then! On a more uplifting note, the guys love telling me about the Loch Tay Kelpie. Apparently, the mythical water horse can take on the form of a handsome man. Hmmm, sounds good. “Fancy feeding him some oats?” asks Alex. I can’t resist, and scatter a few handfuls over the edge of the boat in the vague hope that a hunk might appear. No such luck. “We didn’t tell you the whole story,” grins Hamish. “The handsome man drags unsuspecting women down into the cold, dark loch and devouring them!” Just as well he didn’t show up then! As we turn to head back to base, the boat passes the Scottish Crannog Centre and we enjoy a fantastic view of the reconstructed ancient loch dwelling. It’s not the only crannog in Loch Tay – there are at least 17 others. “They were made so that they were in view of hill forts,” explains Hamish. “They lit signal fires on top of them like beacons and acted as a warning system.” There’s plenty of opportunity for wildlife watching and passengers are given their very own pair of binoculars. If you’re lucky, you might spot and osprey or a golden eagle, but we have no such luck today. As we reach Kenmore, the sky clears and the sun comes out. Typical. But truth be told, the dreich weather didn’t stop us from having a fantastic and inspirational journey. The safari is a great way of learning more about the area, whether you’re a local or a tourist, and the upbeat chat from the lads is sure to put a smile on your face. info Loch Tay Safaris last 1.5 hours and run until the end of October this season. Trips on the 12-seater boat, which are £30 per adult, £20 per child, and £95 per family, can be booked at www.lochtaysafaris.net    

Angus & The Mearns

Angus councillor inspired by great-granny’s essay on the suffragists

February 9 2018

An Angus councillor has unearthed a fascinating insight into men’s views on the suffragists as the nation commemorated the centenary of some women winning the right to vote. Brenda Durno, SNP member for Arbroath and East Lunan, has been so inspired by an essay written by her great-grandmother in 1904, she is hoping to donate it to a museum in the north east. The amusing reflection was written in the Doric language by Isabella Moir, a 12-year-old pupil at Belhelvie School in Aberdeenshire. She was the eldest of 10 children and had two sisters and seven brothers. Councillor Durno said: “The celebration for the 100 years since women won the right to vote made me think of the essay. “My great grandmother was born in September 1892 and died in May 1992. “She latterly lived in Potterton with my aunt and uncle who ran the shop there and I found the essay when she died.” Mrs Durno chose to enter local politics in the footstep of her father, the SNP councillor Alex Shand, but admitted her great-grandmother was a Liberal supporter. “She was right into politics and was a great friend of Lord Tweedsmuir - the SNP wasn’t around then.” The essay relates to a conversation between a brother and sister as he reads a newspaper article on ‘The Suffragists’. As he works his way through the article, his views become apparent. He berates the efforts of the “limmers of suffragists” claiming “weemans place is at hame” It reads: “They canna mak an men their men’s sarks, keep a clean fireside an have a vote. “Gie then an inch an they wid tak an ill (mile).” The essay goes on to say there a was a time when women were happy “tae tak the chance o’ the first man that socht them, an thankful tae leave the voting an the rulin o the nation tae him”. It was on February 6, 1918 that women aged over 30, those who owned property or had a university education were granted the right to vote through the Representation of the People Act. Mrs Durno is hoping to donate the essay to a museum which specialises in the Doric and would welcome suggestions as to who to contact.

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

Perth & Kinross

Iron Age comes to life with host of WinterWeek+ activities

February 18 2011

Five thousand years ago many Scots lived in crannogs circular structures built out on to water for defensive purposes. The Scottish Crannog Centre on Loch Tay has recreated the ancient dwelling, giving visitors a unique insight into life in Iron Age Scotland. The centre usually opens in April and closes in late autumn, meaning tourists have never had the chance to see how ancient families would have coped with Scotland's harsh winter. But that's changing this year. The Crannog Centre is one of a range of tourism businesses in and around the scenic Perthshire village of Kenmore which have teamed up in a bid to attract more visitors in what, historically, is low season for them. WinterWeek+ which kicked off on Wednesday and runs until Sunday, February 27 promotes around 20 events and activities on and around beautiful Loch Tay. The Crannog Centre is putting on a range of events including classes on Iron Age skills such as nettlecraft, woodwork, cooking, fire-lighting and spear-throwing.Photo gallery: Winterweek+ fun at the Scottish Crannog CentreOther activities include winter boat tours on Loch Tay, chocolate-making workshops and food-tasting events at the Mains of Taymouth Courtyard. Director of the Scottish Crannog Centre Barrie Andrian said, "We're delighted to be opening in winter this year as part of the WinterWeek+ celebrations. "Kenmore is perfect for a mid-term or short winter break and, with many families and couples flocking to the area during winter, it seems to make sense to open our doors and ensure they see the best of Kenmore while they are here." For more information go to www.winterweek.co.uk THINGS TO DO DURING WINTERWEEK: Daily Scottish Crannog Centre tours: Enjoy a tour of the historical Iron Age crannog with hot drinks and Iron Age cake around the crannog fire. Opening hours 10am-4pm. To book call 01887 830583. Legend Sailing Loch Tay cruises: Departures at 11.45am, 1.15pm, 2.45pm. Enjoy a one-hour trip in a heated cruise boat with a steaming cup of tea or coffee and get a 20% discount when combined with a crannog tour. Pick-up/drop-off at the Scottish Crannog Centre. To book call 01887 830583. Sunday: Music in the crannog. Join the highly-acclaimed Loch Tay Steamers from 3.30pm-5pm for some foot-tapping music in the crannog around a cosy log fire with special crannog cake and hot cordial. Tickets £10 adults, £8 children. Discounts for combined crannog tour and music package. Booking is essential on 01887 830583. Saturday, February 26: Taste some of Perthshire's finest products from 12pm-4pm at Mains of Taymouth Courtyard. This event is free. WHERE TO STAY DURING WINTERWEEK: The Kenmore Hotel: Nestling on the banks of the River Tay, the hotel is famous for its warmth, charm, Highland hospitality and vivid history. Scotland's oldest inn, dating back to 1572, it has survived through the centuries and will thrive for many years to come. Phone 01887 830205 or visit www.kenmorehotel.com WHERE TO EAT DURING WINTERWEEK:Waterfront Restaurant: Located on the shores of Loch Tay at Kenmore, the restaurant is of a superb quality and tastefully designed to fit into the historic setting beside the walled garden which once served Taymouth Castle, and well placed to let diners admire the stunning views along the loch.

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.