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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...

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.

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.


Michael Marra remembered with new bench at Niel Gow Oak

March 25 2013

A wooden bench commemorating a fiddle legend has been unveiled by the widow of a Dundee musician. To mark the start of the Niel Gow Scottish Fiddle Festival at the weekend, the Forestry Commission Scotland installed a new bench dedicated to Gow on the banks of the Tay at Inver, near Dunkeld. It is sited at Niel Gow’s Oak, where he is said to have composed many of his finest tunes, and replaces the original bench that was damaged in a storm. The new bench bears a line from a song by singer-songwriter Michael Marra, who died last year, and was unveiled by his widow Peggy. https://www.youtube.com/embed/wi4ewo3X_cc?rel=0 Peter Fullarton of the commission’s team in Tay District said: “Niel Gow was a weaver’s son who taught himself to play the fiddle but he was widely considered the best fiddle player in Perthshire. “He was in high demand all over the country so it’s probably safe to say he was the most famous fiddler in Scotland at that time. “Now that we’ve replaced the bench, anyone who visits the area has the opportunity to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the setting and maybe get a taste of the inspiration that helped Gow to create so many memorable tunes.” The replacement bench has been carved by Nigel Ross and the inscription carved by Andy McFetters. The inscription a line from Marra’s song Niel Gow’s Apprentice reads: “I’ll sit beneath the fiddle tree, with the ghost of Niel Gow next to me.”


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.


Amid food banks, drugs and poverty, what really matters for Dundee is ‘building up the economy’, says retiring Bishop of Brechin

June 24 2017

The Right Rev Dr Nigel Peyton is retiring as Bishop of Brechin after a 41-year relationship with Dundee. Here he tells Michael Alexander about recent efforts to help vulnerable people in the city – and the challenges that remain… When the Right Rev Dr Nigel Peyton was consecrated Bishop of Brechin in St Paul’s Cathedral, Dundee, in 2011, it returned him to the diocese and city where his ministry began in 1976. While the London-raised Episcopalian priest spent much of his career in England, he retained a “deep affection” for the cathedral and its place in Dundee – and he appreciates it’s highly unusual for a priest to “book-end” a 41-year career in the same place. Yet despite the passing of four decades, Bishop Nigel is struck that the “two Dundees” he experienced in the 1970s - polarising the city’s haves and have nots - are as identifiable now as they were then. And while he thinks the development of the £1 billion Dundee Waterfront is “great”, he says a “huge challenge” remains to secure sustainable jobs, economic prospects and hope for many young people in a city blighted by child poverty, food banks, rampant drug and alcohol abuse and rough sleeping problems. “In many ways there are similarities now to the 1970s,” reflects Bishop Nigel in an interview with The Courier ahead of his retirement on July 31 and a farewell service at the cathedral on June 25. “We had a very gathered cathedral and congregation back then. But I discovered quite quickly that even in those times there was a sense that many people on the north side of the Kingsway were not really thought about. “Today the situation remains very much the same. “I think the V&A is great. I think the waterfront is great. I worry about what might be in the V&A. "I hope it really is good enough quality and sufficiently attractive to the people of Dundee as well as trendy people who like to visit. I worry about the costs of running it. I think it’s great visually for the city. “But if you ask me, what really matters is building up the economy so that there are jobs for young people and their families - sustainable jobs, hopes for the future and prospects for youngsters. “I think we are very challenged here looking after youngsters in schools – I think there is a lot to be done giving our children the very best of education, and at the other end caring for the elderly. That’s a huge challenge.” Born in London, Bishop Nigel, now 66, went to Edinburgh University and after a “strong calling” to the church, he trained as a priest before being sent to be chaplain, aged 25, at St Paul’s in Dundee – a move that he describes as “quite life changing really”. He says Dundee has always had a “very vibrant congregation”. It was when he returned as bishop in 2011, and took over an area stretching from the Carse of Gowrie almost to Aberdeen, however, that he truly sought to re-engage the “progressive, thoughtful and welcoming” church with the public. As well as exercising oversight and pastoral care of the diocese, Bishop Nigel, who pioneered the Dundee Centre of Mission, has engaged in public affairs of the city and contributed regular articles for The Courier. He has cleaned the shoes of Dundonians on Maundy Thursday – symbolically trying to make ordinary peoples’ lives better - has been chairman of the trustees of St Margaret’s Home for the Elderly and a governor of Abertay University. While the traditional church still has place, new ways have been found to engage with the public including café churches, food banks, children’s activities and even meetings held in pubs to offer “unconditional” support to those in need. “People who don’t perhaps go to church very often still have spiritual values or spiritual awareness or cravings,” he adds. “We have to go and find them. We often find them in their need or sometimes in their leisure or where they are working. “You’ve got to understand your locality. Where churches do well is where they are serving their communities’ needs. They are not trying to force people into something they are not trying to get involved with.” Yet Bishop Nigel admits he’s “old enough and pragmatic enough” to know there will not always be solutions to life’s problems. “We have to keep working at it,” he says. Last December he presented the ‘Time for Reflection’ in the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood and managed to remind politicians that government has a responsibility to care for the elderly. While he tries to avoid party politics, however, and favours “competent government and progressive legislation”, it’s the recent decision of the Synod to allow gay marriage – the first church in the UK to do so – that has inevitably made headlines. “Gay marriage is a discussion that’s going on in all churches,” he says. “I think we just so happened to be at a stage with it. We’ve spent four years considering it. I’ve already described the Scottish Episcopal Church as progressive and thoughtful. “So it would hardly be surprising if we didn’t want to move forward in that area. “That said not everybody agrees with the decision but what we have managed to achieve is to move forward with the maximum unity within diversity and that’s something to treasure really. “Families and organisations don’t always have to agree about everything all of the time. “But it’s a measure of who we are as a church that we’ve found a way forward that hasn’t split the church massively. So I think we can be proud of that achievement.” Bishop Nigel says it’s controversial that the church does not just work with local authority referrals when it comes to food banks – support is offered unconditionally and this, he admits, means that sometimes they might be taken advantage of. However, he adds: “We don’t actually find that a serious issue and it better reflects who we are as Christians. “At the end of the day we don’t want to make judgments about the needs of people. “Of course there’s a discussion to be had about why are they in that situation? Who’s to blame? Is it themselves? Is it society? Is it government? “But we meet need where we find it. It better expresses our theology and our beliefs. “I know it sounds a bit twee, but we ask, what would Jesus do in that situation? “And I think we get a pretty quick answer.” Bishop Nigel and his wife Anne are looking forward to retirement near Lincoln, closer to children and grandchildren, and enabling him to “once again become a season ticket holder at my beloved and infuriating Nottingham Forest Football Club”. He will never forget Dundee, however, and will visit to keep tabs on its re-development. He adds: “I hope I’ve contributed twice both as a young man and as a senior leader to the life of the city. “It’s been a huge privilege and pleasure. I love Dundee people. I love the crack on the 22 bus! “I love the friendliness of people in Dundee and the region generally. “My hope is that the diocese has flourished under my leadership and I’ve left things better than when I found them. It’s for others to judge I guess! “And I hope I’m handing on a work in progress! I’m not unhappy with that. I’m happy to hand things on and let others shape how they need to be. There’s never a perfect time to retire and you have to at some point. “I hope I’m handing over a hopeful and confident diocese that has ideas serving the region into the future.” The process for finding and electing a new bishop normally takes about six months. It involves initially the preparation of a short-list of candidates and then an election by representatives of the Diocese in questions. The process begins within 21 days of the vacancy arising, by the primus issuing a mandate for an election. *The farewell service and reception to mark Bishop Nigel’s retirement takes place at 4pm on Sunday June 25 in St Paul’s Cathedral, Dundee. All are welcome to attend.

UK politics

Nigel Farage says British judges are ‘difficult to trust’

November 6 2016

Judges are so ingrained in the pro-EU elite in British society that it is difficult to trust them, Nigel Farage has claimed. UKIP’s interim leader took aim at the High Court justices for ruling that parliamentary approval is needed to trigger Article 50, the mechanism for leaving the EU. Mr Farage also warned that the public will vent their anger on the streets of Britain if the vote to leave the EU is not respected. The MEP told the Andrew Marr Show: “I am afraid that the reach of the European Union into the upper echelons of society in this country makes it quite difficult to trust the judges.” He criticised Lord Chief Justice John Thomas for not stepping aside for Thursday’s decision given his role in a body that sought to further integrate EU laws domestically. “If they are activists pushing for politically European integration they should not be making these judgments,” Mr Farage added. He said he “completely understands” newspaper coverage after the High Court ruling which referred to judges as “enemies of the people”. The former City worker said: “Believe you me, if the people of this country think that are going to be cheated, they are going to be betrayed, then we are going to see political anger, the likes of which none of us in our lifetimes have ever witnessed in this country. “Those newspaper headlines are reflecting that.” Asked if there was a real danger of disturbances on the street, Mr Farage said: “Yeah I think that’s right.”

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

Belfast High Court to hear Brexit legal challenge

October 4 2016

A legal challenge to Brexit is due to begin in Northern Ireland today. Lawyers representing a host of high-profile politicians and campaigners will argue that triggering Article 50 would be illegal if done without securing parliamentary and Northern Ireland Assembly consent. Prime Minister Theresa May has said she plans to use the mechanism to begin negotiations with the European Union next year. Former Stormont justice minister David Ford is among a cross-community group of politicians and human rights activists whose lawyers are taking the case at Belfast's High Court. They have urged the premier to consider the country's peace process and other unique requirements before launching Brexit talks. Northern Ireland's attorney general John Larkin QC is expected to be involved in the landmark legal proceedings. Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond McCord Jr was murdered by the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in north Belfast in 1997, is also involved in the case over concerns that European peace money for Troubles victims may be stopped. Some 56 per cent of Northern Irish voters backed Remain in the June 23 referendum but some unionist-dominated parts supported Leave. Northern Ireland shares the UK's only land border with an EU state, the Republic of Ireland, and the British and Irish Governments have said they are keen to ensure there is no return to the hard borders of the past. Those supporting the legal action include: Green Party leader Steven Agnew; Social Democratic and Labour Party leader Colum Eastwood; senior Sinn Fein Stormont Assembly member John O'Dowd; former head of the Progressive Unionist Party Dawn Purvis; ex-Equality Commission member and disability rights activist Monica Wilson OBE and the Committee on the Administration of Justice human rights group. They want to ensure the Brexit process complies with the rule of law, takes account of parliamentary sovereignty, protects progress made towards a more peaceful society and accords adequate weight to the democratic will of those in Northern Ireland who voted in the European referendum and in the 1998 poll on the Good Friday Agreement.