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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...

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.

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.


Scottish Seniors Open: Luna holds on to deny Torrance

August 19 2013

Fifteen years on from his famous defeat of Tiger Woods and 18 from his last victory, Spain’s Santiago Luna held on to deny Sam Torrance a fairy tale home victory at the SSE Scottish Seniors Open at Fairmont St Andrews. Luna, 50, battled his way through strong winds for a final-round 71 which was just good enough to edge Scotland’s Torrance, seeking his first tournament win in four years and on the course he designed. Torrance’s three-putt bogey on the 16th and Luna’s birdie when he played the hole half an hour later was the crucial difference between the pair, 65-year-old Irishman Denis O’Sullivan also coming up a stroke short in his attempt to be the Senior Tour’s second oldest winner. After a nervy chip from behind the 18th green came up well short, Luna’s near-perfect lag putt secured the par that got him home with a five-under aggregate of 211. Torrance shot a final-round 70 with O’Sullivan a par 72 on a day when only one player Barry Lane shot under 70. “It’s difficult to describe my feelings to win again after so long,” said the Spaniard. Luna’s previous win was the Madeira Island Open on the main tour in 1995 and the career highlight the Dunhill Cup semi-final victory over Woods in 1998 on the Old Course, but that event remains memorable to him not for the win but because of whom he played with. “If I play Tiger 91 times, he beats me 90 of them, but that week was most memorable because it was great to play with my friends Jose (Maria Olazabal) and Miguel (Angel Jimenez),” he said. Luna did appear to be faltering after a bogey four at the 15th but it was his birdie at the 16th, hitting a sand-wedge inside eight feet, that proved decisive with the rest of the field fading in the winds. The exception was Torrance, playing some of his best golf in the last five years in what is his last event before he turns 60. In the end there was frustration that he fell just a shot short but satisfaction at the way he had played. “I played just magnificently today thanks to Dad,” he said, in tribute to father Bob’s swing tip which got him back in sync last week. “I think I probably had about 33-34 putts but we all know how tough the long putter is in the strong winds, so you expect that. From tee to green I haven’t played as well in a long time.” Torrance holed a 40-footer on the 14th to get within a shot of the lead only to falter at 16 with a three-putt from the back of the green after he hit his second shot from semi-rough and only just held the putting surface. He then made an outstanding up and down from near the wall on 17 and thought he’d reached the long 18th in two with what looked like a perfect strike with a five-iron, but the ball came up short. He almost holed the chip for the eagle that would force a play-off but made an eight-footer for birdie to set the mark Luna just managed to better a few minutes later. O’Sullivan played a perfect pitch from 40 yards at the last to join Torrance in four-under second place, leaving English duo Peter Mitchell and Phil Golding sharing fourth with the leader going into the last round, Australia’s Peter Fowler, who shot a final-round 74.


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.

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


Strong showing for Tayside and Fife beaches but St Andrews takes a dip

June 7 2011

Almost all of the official beaches along the coast of Tayside and Fife have passed their first water quality tests of the summer with flying colours. But the two beaches at St Andrews have dipped below the top standard, according to data from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. During the bathing season, from June to mid-September, samples are collected from beaches around the country and tested in the laboratory for contamination. Scientists look for the amount of coliform and streptococci bacteria, which are a sign of sewage or animal waste and can cause illness in humans. Only very low quantities are allowed if a beach is to get a top "guideline" pass for a test. With the exception of Montrose, the first results for the 21 official bathing waters in Tayside and Fife have now been released and these show guideline passes for 18 of them. North of the Tay estuary that list comprises Lunan Bay, Arbroath West Links, Carnoustie, Monifieth and Broughty Ferry.Lower-level passThe Fife beaches to do well are Tentsmuir, Kingsbarns, Crail, Anstruther, Elie (Harbour), Elie (Ruby Bay), Leven, Kirkcaldy, Kinghorn (Harbour and Pettycur), Burntisland, Aberdour (Silver Sands) and Aberdour (Harbour). However West and East Sands in St Andrews have both been given the lower-level "mandatory" pass for their first test of the season. Both met the required standard for streptococci and the total number of coliforms, but they had too many faecal coliforms. The East Sands only just failed to get a guideline pass. West Sands had almost twice as many faecal coliforms as allowed, but the level was less than a tenth of the quantity that would have led to a failed test. Both beaches are holders of the coveted Blue Flag and to hold on to it they will only be allowed to fall below the guideline standard a maximum of four times during the bathing season. SEPA's official profile of the beach explains, "The principal risks and source of wet weather-driven, short-term pollution at this bathing water arise from agricultural run-off and combined sewer overflows. "These events are expected to last one to two days depending on the duration of the rainfall and may result in elevated bacteria levels compared to dry conditions."

Angus & The Mearns

Lunan Bay’s pollution test failure put down to bad luck

October 1 2014

A popular Tayside beauty spot was one of only two of Scotland’s 84 designated bathing waters to fail pollution tests. Lunan Bay and Heads of Ayr failed for the overall 2014 season following the impact of the tail end of a hurricane. Lunan Bay’s failure is being blamed on higher levels of diffuse pollution run-off caused by heavy rainfall in the area in the days before sampling. Of the other 82, 36 were mandatory passes and 46 reached the higher guideline standard. Holyrood’s environment and climate change minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “Some beaches may not have met water quality aspirations, but it is typically the case that they may fail to meet the desired standard only once or twice a year. “Where water quality is predicted not to meet the desired standard due to forecast severe rainfall, our investment in a network of electronic signs at many of our popular beaches continues to provide accurate daily information to bathers and water sports enthusiasts, and we must continue to build on the provision of such information. “Scotland is continuing to prepare for the tighter European bathing water quality standards that come in next year along with a new classification system for bathing waters.” The majority of Courier Country beaches achieved the higher guideline standard. Arbroath (West Links) and Stonehaven received mandatory passes, while Carnoustie, Monifieth and Montrose reached guideline standard. Broughty Ferry beach also achieved guideline standard. In Fife, Black Sands and Silver Sands in Aberdour were classed as guideline along with Anstruther (Billow Ness), Burntisland and Crail (Roome Bay). Also achieving guideline in Fife was Elie (Harbour) and Earlsferry, Elie (Ruby Bay), Kinghorn (Pettycur), Kingsbarns, Kirkcaldy (Seafield), Leven and St Andrews (East Sands and West Sands). Elsewhere in Fife, Kinghorn (Harbour Beach) was mandatory. Calum McPhail, head of environmental quality at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, said: “While we are disappointed that two bathing waters failed this year, I think it’s important as we move towards the revised standards and classifications in the new directive next year to look at how far we’ve come in understanding the environment and tackling the pressures on water quality. “Whether it’s working with local farmers and land managers to reduce agricultural run-off or working with Scottish Water to identify improvements to their infrastructure, every year has brought further steps towards better water quality.” This is the last time reporting will take this format, which has been used since the introduction of the bathing water directive 26 years ago.