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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…

Take A Hike

A hill to dye for

April 22 2017

Clachnaben is a cracking wee hill, one that has long been a favourite of mine. Full of character, the high point for me is the granite tor protruding from the summit, an exciting, exposed scramble at the end of a relatively short but reasonably demanding ascent. I am not alone in my love for this distinctive peak. A well-trod path climbs to the top from a car park near Bridge of Dye and while many visitors are content with a simple there-and-back outing, looping down into Glen Dye creates a satisfying circuit complete with bothy pit-stop. Stepping out from the car park – a former quarry – the trail led me from a pair of information boards through woodland before descending past Glendye Lodge, the hub of estate activities here, to Miller’s Bog. Strolling west across this broad swathe of heath and pasture grazed by sheep, little bridges conveying me over trickling streams, Clachnaben and its tor dominated the view ahead. Approaching the base of the hill, I paused briefly at a plaque marking the work of the Clachnaben Path Trust’s volunteers in tackling the inevitable erosion caused by the thousands of pairs of boots that pass this way each year, before embarking upon my ascent. The route rises along the southern edge of a plantation, enjoying the shelter of the trees, before striking out over open slopes of heather, the pull into the col between Clachnaben and Mount Shade more arduous. Swinging left, the way, heads up the shoulder to the rough, misshapen chunks of granite that erupt from the summit plateau. With muirburn – the burning of heather to promote new growth – underway a little to the west, billowing clouds of smoke drifting by the mighty stone edifice created an almost mystical scene. Where the path levels off, a ‘gateway’ in the boulders invites exploration. The scramble is straightforward – the rocks funnel into a crack and the climb through leads first to an exposed ledge with the high point up to the left. While the granite offers good grip, great care should be taken when venturing up on to the tor for there are steep drops on all sides. It is, however, an impressively airy perch offering panoramic views over the uplands of Angus and Aberdeenshire. On a clear day, to the north, distant Bennachie, another hill with a tor, can be seen. A trig-point sits just back from the boulder stack and, from it, a path leads west past another rocky outcrop, dipping into a peaty pass before rising rather leisurely on to Hill of Edendocher. Here the descent into Glen Dye begins, the track dropping over the southern flank of the hill, passing the skeletal remains of an RAF Hawker Audax bi-plane that crashed here during a training flight from Montrose in May 1939. Passing over Cairn of Finglenny, I met up with the Brocky Burn for the final tumble down to Charr. Maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association as an open refuge and surrounded by the ruins of a former township, the cottage offers shelter from the elements, a welcome spot for a sit down and some refreshment ahead of the hike home. Later, as I crossed Miller’s Bog for the second time that day, Clachnaben to my left, shoulders now blackened by the heather burning, I knew it would not be long before I returned. ROUTE 1. From information boards in car park, follow path through woodland to track junction. Bearing right, descend track by wall on left, crossing stile by gate to reach bridge over stream. 2. At junction beyond bridge, turn right, following track west over Miller’s Bog. 3. Enter woodland at ladder stile by gate and continue ahead on path, passing to left of Clachnaben Path Trust plaque. Ascend path to summit of Clachnaben. 4. From trig point, follow path west to junction on top of Hill of Edendocher. 5. Turn left and descend track to Charr bothy, in Glen Dye. 6. Turn left at track junction behind bothy, following track north-east down Glen Dye. 7. Continue straight ahead at junction above pond, following track north-east. 8. Continue ahead at junction, following track north to point 2. Retrace steps from here to car park.   INFORMATION Distance: 14.5km/9 miles Ascent: 620m/2040ft Time: 4-5 hours Grading: Moderately challenging hill walk following good tracks and paths with some strenuous ascent to an exposed summit. Explore the tor with care as there are steep drops on all sides and keep dogs on the lead at the request of the estate Start/finish: Clachnaben Quarry car park, 750m north of Bridge of Dye on B974 (Grid ref: NO 648867) Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 45; Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer sheets 396 and OL54 Tourist Information: Stonehaven iCentre, 66 Allardice Street, Stonehaven AB39 2AA (Tel 01569 762806) Public transport: None

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.

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

Briton found dead in Argentina named as David Minn

January 26 2018

A British tourist who died in Argentina has been named as David Minn. The local civil defence said the 24-year-old’s body was discovered on a mountainous hiking trail near the city of Ushuaia, close to the Esmeralda Lagoon. Defensa Civil Ushuaia said it was an area popular with tourists, and it is believed Mr Minn may have fallen. The region is close to the Martial mountain range in Tierra del Fuego province in the far south of the country. The Martial mountains in Tierra del Fuego (Google Maps) A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are supporting the family of a British national who sadly died in Argentina, and we are in contact with the local authorities.” (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By Press Association Reporters'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', 'ac6bc905-e5e5-4fd0-9fc3-ac6f411af227'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:news,paservice:news:uk'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Briton found dead in Argentina named as David Minn'});

Motoring news

Rising repair costs and whiplash claims behind insurance rise

February 11 2017

Vehicle insurance premiums hit a record high last quarter, rising by more than five times the rate of inflation in 2016. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that tax increases, rising repair costs and increasing costs arising from whiplash injury claims were to blame. According to the ABI’s Motor Premium Tracker – which measures the price consumers actually pay for their cover, rather than quotes – the average price for private comprehensive insurance in Q4 2016 was £462. The highest figure recorded before this was in Q2 of 2012, when the average price was £443. The Q4 figure for 2016 was up 4.9% over Q3, equating to a £22 rise in the average premium. It was also found that the average premium for all of 2016 was 9.3% higher than the average premium for 2015. ABI’s assistant director and head of motor and liability, Rob Cummings, said: “These continue to be tough times for honest motorists. They are bearing the brunt of a cocktail of rising costs associated with increasing whiplash-style claims, rising repair bills and a higher rate of insurance premium tax. “While we support the Government’s further reforms to tackle lower-value whiplash costs, it must not give with one hand and take away with the other. The sudden decision to review the discount rate has the potential to turn a drama into a crisis, with a significant cut throwing fuel on the fire in terms of premiums. “Insurers are open to a proper dialogue on how to reform the system and urge the Lord Chancellor to engage with the industry about setting a rate that is fair for both claimants and customers.” Meanwhile, the RAC has released research that suggests not indicating when turning is our number one annoyance on the roads. Well over half (58%) of the survey’s respondents said failing to indicate was the top inconsiderate behaviour. It was narrowly ahead (56%) of those who thought middle lane hogging was the greatest driving sin.

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.

Angus & The Mearns

Gingerbread tribute to the Wee Red Town

October 14 2013

When Libby Jones was invited by Bank Street Gallery owner Susie Clark to exhibit at her gallery in Kirriemuir, she became intrigued by the history of the town. As well as Kirriemuir’s most famous son and Peter Pan author JM Barrie, she discovered the town had also been home for a time to AC/DC singer Bon Scott, Victorian mountaineer Hugh Munro, and 19th century writer Violet Jacob. She found the town had been a hotbed of witchcraft in the 16th century and is also world famous for its gingerbread and decided to combine all these elements. Ms Jones went on to craft a boxed set of prints, which also doubles as a card game. She said: “This tongue-in-cheek edition of 10 boxes, of 20 cards per box, features Kirriemuir characters presented on a slice of gingerbread on a plate. I have also made a poster featuring all the 10 characters in the game.” Visitors can see images of Edinburgh Castle with fireworks, wildlife such as gannets, and artwork made after a visit to Antarctica. Londoner and master printmaker Ms Jones exhibited work from her sub-zero stay at a Discovery Point exhibition in Dundee last year. Children can see her work Cooking the Climate, a comment on global warming, which consists of a microwave oven and slideshow with rotating polar animals. There is also a fossilised mobile phone in a second installation, Fossils of the Anthropocene an exploration of the traces that might remain of civilisation in 50 million years’ time. She is also exhibiting a selection of her woodcuts, linocuts, collagraphs and screenprints at the gallery. The exhibition runs until November 8 and opening hours can be found on www.bankstreetgallery.org, or by telephoning 01575 570070.

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

UK & World

Nepal mountaineering record keeper Elizabeth Hawley dies at 94

January 26 2018

Elizabeth Hawley, an American journalist who kept records of mountaineers on Nepal’s highest peaks, has died at the age of 94. She had been living in the country since 1960 and was the unofficial record keeper of mountaineering activities on eight of the world’s 14 highest peaks, including Mount Everest. Prathiva Pandey, a doctor at the CIWEC Hospital and Travel Medicine Centre in Kathmandu, said Ms Hawley had been in hospital for a week and died on Friday because of complications from pneumonia. Ms Hawley maintained the Himalayan Database, considered the unofficial record book for mountaineering. Nepal and China do not maintain complete records of mountaineering activities. She was respected in the mountaineering community in Nepal and abroad. Although she never climbed any mountain, she often had the final say in any disputes or claims by climbers. It was often said that if her record did not say that a mountaineer climbed a particular peak in Nepal, then it never happened. Mountaineers would often meet her before and after their climbs, when she would make them answer difficult questions. “She was a legend in the mountaineering community and it is a big loss to all of us,” said Ang Tshering, former head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association. “Now our focus should be to continue her work to honour her.” Born in Chicago, she travelled to Nepal in 1960 and later became a correspondent for the Reuters news agency. Nepal honoured her for her contribution by naming a mountain in the north west after her in 2014. Peak Hawley, which is 20,330ft high, is open for climbers. Funeral arrangements have not been announced. (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By Associated Press Reporters'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', 'b0628a9b-b8a2-422f-8ece-670a85d0748b'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:news,paservice:news:world'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Nepal mountaineering record keeper Elizabeth Hawley dies at 94'});

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