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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

Swedish church mystery not ringing any bells at Angus kirk

November 27 2013

A sleepy Angus village was revealed as the setting of a historic mystery when foreign visitors came to church. Members of an art class at Carmyllie Kirk looked up from their painting last week to see a pair of Swedes, who asked “Do you have our church bell? Because we’ve got yours.” The men explained they were on a mission for the Swedish Lutheran Church, to find out why a remote church outside Stockholm has a bell clearly inscribed Carmylie, the old spelling of the village. While many Scottish churches have equipment made in the foundries of Belgium, Holland and Scandinavia, residents are baffled why the original village bell made the trip the other way. Local heritage society member James Lindsay thinks the 1715 Jacobite rebellion may have sent the ringer east in exile. He said: “In 1715 when Earl James Maule of Panmure entertained the Old Pretender (James Stuart) at nearby Panmure House, during the first days of the Jacobite rebellion, he gave instructions that the Carmyllie Church bell be rung from dawn till dusk in celebration. “The order was duly carried out until, in the words of the church records ‘the bell was rendered useless.’ It was assumed the original Carmyllie bell had cracked but perhaps it was only slightly damaged.” The rising of The Fifteen was the attempt by Stuart to regain the British throne for the exiled House of Stuart. Carmyllie’s present bell was examined during last year’s extensive restoration programme and was found to bear information that it was forged in Edinburgh in 1716. The original may have been only chipped or the swivel mounting may have been slightly damaged. A wish to dissociate the area from the rebellion, when Earl James had raised 500 men in the district for the cause, may have further encouraged replacement. Many churches in Scotland have bells from the Low Countries such as Kettins but traffic the other way is anomalous and just how the Carymllie ringer may have made the epic journey to Sweden remains a complete mystery. Recent examination of the church by leading architectural historians places much of the present structure at an earlier date, pre-Reformation when it was known as St Mary’s Chapel. Heritage enthusiasts and the kirk’s minister, the Rev Stewart Lamont, are keen to find out more and establish links with the Swedish church, which the enigmatic visitors did not name. He said: “I would love to hear from the Svenska Kyrkan (Swedish Church) although I have not been passed their details yet.” Carmyllie church boasts some of the finest stained glass in Scotland and was renovated last year. The church can be viewed by appointment and Sunday service is held at 9.30am. A book, Carmyllie: Its Land and People, is about to be launched. It is the work of Carmyllie Heritage Society.

Angus & The Mearns

Public urged to explore Carmyllie’s treasures

March 2 2017

An Angus community hopes to help visitors make their way through its history with the launch of a heritage trail pamphlet. Carmyllie Heritage, in association with Angus Council, wants to produce a 90-minute guided tour around the medieval settlement and “fermtoun”, its growth as part of Panmure Estate, and the nearby village of Greystone. Among 15 stops, the tour takes in Milton or “mill town”, the 18th century graveyard, the 17th century kirk with stained glass windows by Stephen Adam, and the former settlement of Tuttiesneuk. Carmyllie Parish Church was built in 1609 on the same site of St Mary’s Chapel where the monks from Arbroath Abbey assisted in the religious services. During the 17th century there was turmoil between the Reformed Presbyterian Kirk and the Episcopalians, the principal heritor (Earl of Panmure) being the supporter of the latter. After the Jacobite rebellion in 1715, church affairs became more settled with ordained Presbyterian ministers. Carmyllie Heritage Society chairperson Anne Law said: “It’s taken us three years to develop this, working with neighbours, the committee and Angus Council, who all led us in the right direction. “The pamphlet is the icing on the cake and we hope the heritage trail will encourage people to visit our village and explore its many treasures.” Before the formation of Carmyllie parish in 1607, landowners owned stretches of land, such as ‘Carmyly’, Glester, Curr, Skechen and Conon all within walking distance. Conon was by far the earliest (1180) name mentioned in the Arbroath Muniments written by the monks of Arbroath Abbey. There was already a pre-reformation chapel on Strachan’s ‘Carmyly’ lands when an act of Parliament was passed in 1609 to erect Carmyllie Kirk ‘into a parochial charge’ the whole parish was then named Carmyllie. The extremities of the Inverkeilor lands which included Cononsyth Estate and Backboath were brought within the Carmyllie boundaries together with Panbride’s outlying lands round the Firth. The Guynd Estate, later acquired by the Ouchterlonys, was brought into the parish. Carmyllie Heritage Society was founded in 2009 with the purpose of exploring and recording the rich history of Carmyllie and to raise public awareness of Carmyllie as a source of historic value.

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.

Farming news

Vivid depiction of rural life in days gone by

January 22 2014

Parish histories are common enough and each serves its purpose. Few however are as comprehensive and well-researched as the one recently published by Carmyllie Heritage Society, The book’s editor Anne Law and her team of contributors have, in 180 pages of text and illustrations, produced a nugget which deserves to be cherished by future generations. Carmyllie is only one of 62 parishes in Angus, but in many ways is typical of the county. Geographically it sits at its heart and, like so many others in lowland Angus, it is distinctly rural in nature. Dubbed ‘Cauld Carmyllie’, it sits higher than many of its neighbours and its inhabitants have, especially in times past, had to work hard to wrest a living from the land. As with so many Angus parishes it has no central village. Instead, it is made up of a scattering of smaller communities. As the book, Carmyllie Its Land and People, explains, there are very good reasons why this should be so. Many of the inhabitants made most of their living in earlier centuries from hand-loom weaving on the ‘putting out’ system. Pack horses would deliver linen yarn from Dundee on a weekly basis to these clusters of cottages and take back with them the woven web. In the years before full factory mechanisation, this made sense for all concerned. The textile merchants had no need to house their workers, and if times were hard and demand was low they simply suspended yarn deliveries. There would be hardship no doubt for the weavers, but at least they had their pendicles or crofts to live off. They would neither starve nor go homeless even though they would have few luxuries. These pendicles, often just big enough to support a cow and grow some oats and kale, were therefore of necessity scattered across a parish measuring roughly four miles by three. Mrs Law and her team have wisely concentrated their history on the 130 years from 1840 to 1970. Source material for earlier years is harder to come by but, apart from that, this chosen period is surely the richest in the life of the parish. Carmyllie has always been a farming parish but, in common with many of its neighbours in lowland Angus, it had quarries. In Carmyllie’s case these produced the highest quality grey sandstone pavement, and in late Victorian times the demand seemed insatiable. The quarries at Slade near the hamlet of Redford were soon turning out pavement slabs, doorsteps and window lintels in industrial quantities and with the boom came new employment opportunities. By 1871 the population of Carmyllie parish had peaked at around 1,300. Now it is something around half of that, but memories of the quarries live on and have been faithfully recorded in the book. Lord Panmure, who owned the quarries, quickly realised that lack of transport to the harbour at Arbroath was the limiting factor. By 1885 he had funded and completed a railway which ran from the main line at Elliot right up to the quarries at Redford. In just five miles the line climbed from sea level to 600ft. The combination of the new railway and steam-powered stone-cutting machinery soon meant that several train loads of stone could be despatched every week. The wagons went up the line laden with coal, fertiliser and lime and came back with stone. Passenger services were introduced from 1898 until 1929 but speed, or lack of it, was always an issue. Jokingly known as the Carmyllie Express it nearly always ran late. Sometimes, apparently, the driver would stop along the way to set rabbit snares and then check them on the return run. The agricultural history is well covered, too. During the period in question there were three main landowners, Lord Panmure with his holdings in the west and centre of the parish being the greatest. The Ouchterlonys of the Guynd had a substantial holding around their grand house and gardens, and to the east was Cononsyth Estate with its mansion. Commissary Maule in the Registrum de Panmure of 1611 described Carmyllie as “ane pair place fit only for bestial (cattle) in summer”, but, as the years wore on, human endeavour turned it into a more fertile area. The soil, which Maule noted as being only seven inches deep in many areas, was constantly improved by successive generations of tenants. They spread lime and added guano as fertilisers. They dug drains and built dykes to enclose their fields, all the time complaining that the lairds kept using these improvements as a reason for increasing the rent. Gradually the pendicles became absorbed into larger farms, but the farming remained predominantly based on cattle and the crops needed to feed them. Carmyllie had its own monthly market at Redford, with the buildings and pens only removed as recently as 1971. Local cattle were driven to the market on foot, with the Carmyllie Express hauling in wagon loads of Irish stores until the line closed in 1956. The book describes in great detail the influence the three main landowners had on all aspects of life in the 19th Century. Along with their contemporaries across Scotland, they had the right to appoint the parish minister. They favoured Episcopalian preachers, whereas their tenants and villagers preferred a more Presbyterian approach. This culminated in the Disruption of 1843 and the formation of the Free Church as a “church of the people”. Carmyllie was rent in two, with around half the Church of Scotland congregations seceding to the Free Church. They weren’t quite persecuted by the Lord Panmure of the time, but he made sure for a number of years that they had no permanent place of worship. The tale is told of the tenant farmer at the Firth being offered a rent reduction if he returned to the Established church and persuaded his fellow tenants to do likewise. He seemed to have been largely unsuccessful and, ironically, died in the middle of the first harvest thanksgiving service after his infamous deal. Over time the Free Church was able to build a church and manse at Greystone. Schools were built in both the east and the west of the parish, and universal education slowly gained traction. Attendances were, however, very much affected by the seasons, with the classrooms emptying when the children were needed at home for harvest or potato planting. There is far more in the book than can be reviewed here. It is a rich tale of rural life in lowland Scotland, and it is a story well told. It is a good read but, beyond that, it is a reference work that deserves its place on the shelves. Carmyllie Its Land and People is available from: Corn Kist Coffee Shop, Carmyllie; Letham Post Office; Arbroath Library; McDougall’s Newsagent, Carnoustie.Or email: jalaw1@btconnect.com; douglas.norrie@virgin.net. See also website: www.carmyllieheritage.co.uk.

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

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


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.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus home of agricultural pioneer on the market

June 1 2015

The rural Angus home of a man whose agricultural invention helped transform the industry is on the market. Dating from 1820, the late Georgian former manse at Carmyllie was home to the Rev Patrick Bell, inventor of the reaping machine, a creation that marked the beginning of the end of harvesting by sickle and scythe. Bell, who lived at the manse from 1843 until his death in 1869, was raised on his father’s farm and saw the back-breaking work required at harvest time. As a student he was interested in mechanics and secretly made a crude horse-drawn reaping machine, consisting of a frame, cutters and a piece of sloping canvas. He perfected the machine behind closed-doors and in the field at night, before it was put to use on his father’s farm and then manufactured locally and exhibited throughout Angus. Many reapers appeared after Bell’s invention, but his was ruled by a team of international judges to be “the best and most effective reaping machine”. Even in more recent times, reapers were based on his design. The original sits in the Science Museum in London. Bell decided against patenting his invention, and so reaped little financial reward from it. But, 40 years later, the Scottish Highland and Agricultural Society presented him with the not insubstantial sum of £1,000 and a silver salver with the inscription: ‘Presented by a large number of his countrymen in token of their appreciation of his services as the inventor of an efficient reaping machine’. There is a memorial stained-glass window to him in Carmyllie Church. An earlier manse in Carmyllie was the birthplace of William Small, a “true son of the Scottish Enlightenment”. As a professor of natural philosophy at William and Mary College in Virginia in America, Small taught Thomas Jefferson, principal author of the American Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States. The two remained friends and, in his 1812 biography, Jefferson tells how Small “probably fixed the destinies of my life”. The current Carmyllie House, marketed by Savills at offers over £480,000, is a category C listed manse set within beautifully laid out grounds and has been refurbished and upgraded, while retaining its original character and features.

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.