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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...


Dundee Blues Bonanza gearing up

April 30 2010

This summer's Dundee Blues Bonanza is shaping up nicely with more than 30 venues anxious to take part in what has become Europe's biggest free blues festival. Organiser Bob Telford has announced the headline acts, which include the debut appearance of Mud Morganfield, Muddy Waters' eldest son. Also headlining this year are the legendary Li'l Jimmy Reed, making a welcome return to the blues bonanza and Papa Mojo, as well as the amazing Otis Grand. It's a superb list of headline acts for the event, which will kick off on Friday, July 23, at Duke's Corner with an international promotional concert featuring the first three headliners. The traditional farewell party is at Deja Vu, hosted by Otis Grand, but also featuring Morganfield and Li'l Jimmy Reed. "We're delighted so many venues have come on board again," organiser Bob Telford said. "Without the venues there is no blues bonanza." The venues confirmed so far are:The Abode The Arctic Bar The Bond The Bread The Bush The Capitol The Central Bar Coyles Deacon Brodies Deja Vu Dexters The Doghouse Duke's Corner The Gauger Jute Bar Lennons Lyrics MacDaniels The Nether Inn The Old Bank Bar The Old Horseshoe Bar The Playwright Sinatras Social Tallys Thomsons Tonic The Town The Underground The Westport BarFor more information visit dundeebluesbonanza.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

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.


Rollicking start for Dundee Blues Bonanza

July 24 2010

Dundee Blues Bonanza 2010 kicked off in style with a concert featuring internationally-renowned acts. Several hundred music fans from across the globe soaked up the atmosphere at Duke's Corner on Brown Street on Friday night, while enjoying the sounds of Mud Morganfield, the eldest son of legendary blues man Muddy Waters. The concert marked the return of an international star to the festival after last year's headliner had to be dropped due to financial constraints. Backing came from US harmonica player Giles Robson and band the Dirty Aces, while blues veteran Lil' Jimmy Reid returned to play with his Kick Ass band. From today, the city centre will be thronged with 12,000 fans watching gigs in around 30 venues across the city-hosting more than 120 gigs, jams and workshops and transforming Dundee into Scotland's blues capital. It will feature the usual mix of bands from Tayside, Scotland and further afield, before culminating in a massive party at Cowgate venue Deja vu tomorrow. Full information, including schedules, is available at www.dundeebluesbonanza.co.uk. Tenor sax image used under Creative Commons licence courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user alien life form.


Dundee’s free blues spectacular set to bop

April 24 2010

The celebrated Blues Bonanza will boogie into its 16th year in July, bringing world-class acts to the city and joy to the streets in what has been called one of the best free festivals in the world. This year"s event is bigger and better than ever with more local support and the chance for youngsters not only to hear some blues legends in action but also to start learning the secrets of this great musical tradition for themselves. There were times in these recent and difficult couple of years, when it looked like the Dundee Blues Bonanza might not make it. In spite of its huge popularity and what now amounts to a global following, things were so tight this time last year that even the most dedicated fans were wondering whether the 15th version of an event that brings literally thousands of people to the city, could again pull the rabbit out of the hat and enjoy its usual huge success. With the support of Dundee venues, the public and blues fans from all over, that success did indeed happen. The enthusiastic and dedicated team of volunteers who put the pieces together every year to make the boast 'all day, all free, all blues" come true have never given up on their mission to make Dundee the blues capital of Scotland, through good times and bad. They came through and No 16 is now well on the way to making a bigger and better mark than ever. This year, they now have the support of the Angus and Dundee Innovation Development Fund, which has enabled July 23"s promotional event at Duke"s Corner, featuring Mud Morganfield and the Dirty Aces plus Bonanza stalwart L"il Jimmy Reed and his Kickass Band. Morganfield is the eldest son of blues legend Muddy Waters. Very much his own man with his own style, he loves to combine his original songs with some of his father"s greats and is regarded as one of the major attractions on the demanding US blues scene. On Sunday, Dj vu will host the DBB party, again featuring Mud, L"il Jimmy and hosted by renowned guitarist Otis Grand. Sandwiched in the Saturday-into-Sunday slot is the famous street festival. Some 30 venues are already signed up to host acts and it"s reckoned there will be more than 120 live performances. Chairman Bob Telford said, "Last year was very successful, when things might have gone the other way because of the context we"ve all found ourselves in over the last 18 months or so." The bonanza has also teamed up with Billy Allardyce"s Scottish Blues Alliance, which has promoted awareness of blues music in Scotland for the last six years. Set up after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the alliance"s first action was to stage a benefit concert in Aberdeen in which 12 Scottish blues outfits took part for musicians affected by the disaster.Blues familyBilly reckons it all part of being one big blues family and Mud Morganfield's booking came through Billy and the alliance. "I"ve been playing for 52 years, from the days when the only venues you could play blues in were the jazz clubs of the time. My dad was a musician and I always say I was 'born in a dance hall!' "It"s the most amazing kind of music for bringing people together and that"s what the alliance and events like the Dundee Blues Bonanza are all about the feeling and the enjoyment are second to none." The Dundee event itself has strong links to the great blues past, as well as its vibrant present. Mrs Margaret Johnston, mother of committee member Ivor Johnston, was at the forefront in promoting blues in Scotland in the 1960s. No less a figure than John Mayall called her "the blues pioneer of the north," she was instrumental in bringing artists like Howlin" Wolf, Otis Spann (Muddy Waters' half-brother), Juke Boy Bonner and a clutch of homegrown artists to Scotland under the name of Blues Junction. Dick Wardell played at the first bonanza in 1995 and this year is going to conduct work shops for would-be blues boys and girls of the future. These would cover two age groups, juniors from the age of nine or 10 and an older section. Dick said, "We are going to be able to use the top-floor meeting room at DCA on Sunday, July 25, between about 11am and 3pm, and are currently alerting schools to the event which I hope, will bring in a wide range of kids to take part." The youth element has always been a part of the plan. Last year, L"il Jimmy Reid did a workshop for children in Cupar and young performers have also got in on the act in 2007, 14-year-old Krissy Matthews led his own band and is now a regular on the circuit. Dick said, "Kids can bring their own instruments if they have them or start from scratch with us. They"re the future of what we do." Dundee Blues Bonanza takes place on July 23 and concludes on the night of July 25. Dick said, "We are going to be able to use the top-floor meeting room at DCA on Sunday, July 25, between about 11am and 3pm, and are currently alerting schools to the event which I hope, will bring in a wide range of kids to take part." The youth element has always been a part of the plan. Last year, L"il Jimmy Reid did a workshop for children in Cupar and young performers have also got in on the act in 2007, 14-year-old Krissy Matthews led his own band and is now a regular on the circuit. Dick said, "Kids can bring their own instruments if they have them or start from scratch with us. They"re the future of what we do." Dundee Blues Bonanza takes place on July 23 and concludes on the night of July 25.

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


Dundee Blues Bonanza’s last stand proves a hit for revellers

July 26 2010

The 16th Dundee Blues Bonanza finished in fitting style with a spectacular closing concert at Deja vu. Hundreds of music fans packed the Cowgate venue on Sunday to hear the blues stylings of Mud Morganfield son of the legendary Muddy Waters Lil' Jimmy Reed and Electric Fez. Unfortunately singer Angela Brown, who was scheduled to host the night, took ill and was unable to travel to Scotland from her home in Germany. Nevertheless, the weekend was hailed as a great success by organisers. Thousands thronged the city centre over the course of the three days for more than 120 gigs, jams and workshops taking place in more than 30 venues. The festival kicked off in style on Friday at Duke's Corner and, despite some rain on Saturday, was very well attended, with pubs and clubs packed from early in the afternoon. The Old Bank Bar hosted a lunchtime workshop and gig on Saturday where an international array of blues players shared their experiences. One of those taking part in the workshop was guitarist Jimmy C from Vancouver, who first played at the bonanza last year."Special atmosphere"He said, "It's really nice and has a special atmosphere. The whole town opens up to it and it's not just a designated area." Local Cajun blues combo Boogalusa were among the Saturday night headliners, which also included Mojo Rising and the Jed Thomas Band. Sarah Hill, manager of The Doghouse on Ward Road, said she had been amazed at the success of the festival. She said, "I was a bit worried because of the change in date and the fact it was the third weekend of the month, but the turnout has been amazing. "There was a bit of a stampede in here when our first band came on at 2pm on Saturday." Organising committee member Billy Allardyce said, "The city has had a really good buzz about it. The great thing about the Blues Bonanza is it appeals to all generations. "It's wonderful to see."

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.


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.