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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...

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

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.


Floral art: beauty and skill in full bloom

November 4 2017

Celebrity florist Nikki Tibbles hosts flower workshops up and down the country. Gayle signed up for a masterclass She’s one of the UK’s top florists, loved by the Royals and A-listers alike. The fabulously named Nikki Tibbles is renowned for her commissions with some of the world’s most luxurious brands and venues such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Claridge’s, Kensington Palace and The V&A. With three stores in London, she’s also worked with the British Fashion Council and Scottish designer Christopher Kane. I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in Nikki’s first workshop in Scotland and jumped at the chance. Held at the swanky G&V Royal Mile Hotel in Edinburgh, the session focused on designing and making your very own bouquet using seasonal flowers. Fourteen of us had signed up for the afternoon masterclass, all of us women, which was a bit of a shame – where were all the men?! A few ladies were really into floral artistry whereas I’d never tried anything like this in my life; I’m as far removed from green-fingered as you might imagine. First up, Nikki – who founded her company Wild at Heart in 1993 – announces we’ll making her hand-tied bouquet, Red Skies, inspired by the colours, textures and emotions of autumn. “Opulent hydrangeas symbolising heartfelt emotions take centre stage in this design,” she tells us, a twinkle in her eye. “It’s our favourite autumn design, with delicate berries, dark, romantic leaves and roses.” We’re each given a huge vase of flowers to play with (red robin, burgundy hydrangea, burgundy chrysanthemum, red hypericum, blueberry rose, roma astrantia and nerine) and we need to separate them into piles and get rid of any foliage which might end up in the water, causing them to rot quickly. “Take a focal flower, maybe a rose, use it as the central flower and arrange the other flowers around it,” advises Nikki. “If you’re right-handed, hold the bouquet in your left land, and place individual flowers with your right.” It’s not as simple as that, though, and I need to create a “spiral” effect, which I screw up slightly. As I add more flowers in a bid to form the perfect dome, I realise there’s a hydrangea that’s bulging out in a rather ungainly fashion. Luckily, there are a few buckets of “spares” so I’m able to add more flowers to bulk it out. Nikki is more than happy to help, plucking off leaves which are hindering my creation, pulling a few flowers into shape, and twisting the spiral to form a nicer dome. I’m delighted with the finished result – and eight days on, it’s still as gorgeous – but if it hadn’t been for Nikki, it might not have turned out so well. After a few hints and tips on how to condition my flowers so they last as long as possible – Nikki estimates around nine days – I ask her what makes a good florist. “You can’t really teach anyone about scale, colour or proportion – it all has to come from within,” she says. “An interest in anything visual is more important than the skill of being able to make a buttonhole.” Nikki first tried floristry 24 years ago, when she did the flowers for a friend’s wedding. She was working in advertising at the time and looking for a change in career. “I’m creative but I can’t paint, I can’t draw and I can’t write,” she says. “I realised flowers were the perfect medium to express myself.” The team at Wild at Heart work on events worldwide, ranging from weddings to gala dinners for 800. They’ve done ceiling and wall installations and created a “magical forest of sparkling trees” for a 21st birthday. “It’s about having a complete assault on the senses,” says Nikki. “Scent, sight and atmosphere is key, and we use a lot of candlelight." Despite her passion for flowers, Nikki never has them at home. “It’s like taking work home with you,” she laughs. “I’d rather have dogs in the house!” And dogs she has – six rescue dogs in fact. She founded the Wild at Heart Foundation, an animal welfare charity which encourages people to “adopt rather than shop”. “I have two great passions – flowers and dogs,” she smiles. She regularly travels to countries like Romania, Spain and Cyprus to bring back maltreated dogs to rehome. Sophie Dahl, Noel Gallagher and Josh Wood are among those to adopt from the Wild at Heart Foundation. As I prepare to leave with my stunning bouquet of flowers, I realise I am a massive fan of Nikki Tibbles. Someone who loves dogs and flowers? She's a woman after my own heart. info Nikki runs Wild at Heart shops in London’s Notting Hill, Pimlico Road and Liberty of London. wildatheart.com The Edinburgh workshop was run by Bloom & Wild, who she’s collaborating with in the creation of a stunning collection for its online customers. www.bloomandwild.com Workshops cost from £75 to £150 and you can take your bouquet, worth £100, home. For details on Nikki's animal welfare charity, see www.wildatheartfoundation.org  

Perth & Kinross

Woman’s pilgrimage from Sussex to Perthshire with mum’s ashes wins countless hearts

October 12 2015

A Perthshire woman’s epic quest to deliver her mum’s ashes to their final resting place has won praise from a host of celebrities. Nikki Eede has trekked nearly 500 miles from her parent’s home in Sussex to Bridge of Earn on the edge of Perth. The 47-year-old completed her week-long journey with just £1 in her pocket, relying instead on the kindness of strangers. And the poignant trip has already raised more than £3,000 for Cancer Research. Nikki’s mum, Helen McFarlane, died in June, aged 73, after being diagnosed with cancer. Nikki has carried her ashes to Perthshire for a special memorial service. Nikki, who works behind the scenes at music industry events including the Rewind Festival, has picked up messages of support and donations from a variety of big name acts including Frankie Goes To Hollywood frontman Holly Johnson and Leo Sayer. Nikki’s mum was born in Blairgowrie and grow up in nearby Balbeggie, where her father was a police officer. She met future husband Ronnie at the Salutation Hotel in Perth and the pair ran Balbeggie’s Grange Hotel before moving to Dunning where they took over the Kirkstyle Hotel. The couple moved to Sussex to be nearer daughter Nikki and her husband in 1996. Nikki stepped out on her quest last weekend. “I didn’t really sit down and plan out a route,” she said. “I’ve just been taking things one day at a time and it has worked out really well. “Everyone I have met has just been so kind and generous. “When I’ve told people what I’m doing and why, they are so quick to offer me a place to stay, to pay my bus fare or just to give me something to eat.” A highlight came on Thursday, when she crossed the border into Scotland. She said: “That was a big moment for me. I was delighted to have made it so far.” Singer Holly Johnson recorded a video message for Nikki, while Midge Ure is auctioning off four rare vinyl pressings of his latest LP Breathe. Nikki was also kitted out with a waterproof jacket donated by her friend, Perthshire butcher Simon Howie. To donate visit www.justgiving.com/njeede.


Dundee pub is couple’s perfect wedding venue bar none

June 13 2015

A couple will tie the knot in a Dundee pub, the first to do so in the city’s history. Nikki Newberry and Larry Scott wanted to marry in a place precious to both of them, and where better than the place they both met four years ago ... the Balgay Hill Bar? Nikki, an American student originally from Wisconsin, visited the Balgay in May 2011 while in Dundee studying for a Masters in Muslim Globalisation in the West at Dundee’s Al Maktoum College, and it was there she met Larry, a store manager at AP Bearings in Forfar. The two are set to wed on Saturday at a ceremony inside the Balgay Hill Bar, overseen by the registrar. Nikki said: “It was where we met, and we wanted it to be a precious place to us and to have all our friends there.” The ceremony will happen behind closed doors in the lounge area, but the reception will be open to regulars and the public in the bar. The occasion will also be live-streamed to Nikki’s relatives in America. Larry said: “We’re looking for something low key, something nice with all of our friends. “It’s where we met, it’s where a lot of our friends are and it holds a lot of meaning for us. “A registrar office is pokey and cold and not a place we have any connection to.” The couple enjoy taking motorbike trips to the Western Isles and enjoying Dundee’s live music scene. Paul Murphy, owner of the Balgay Hill Bar, said: “They approached us, they’re regulars and we were more than happy to do it for them. “We will still be open as usual and the regulars and any people who want to come along will be able to.” Maureen Gilchrist, the registrar who will perform the ceremony, said: “Since the law was changed it has been amazing. “Myself, I’ve performed ceremonies at the top of the Law at five in the morning, one of my colleagues performed a ceremony at midnight as the couple wanted to be the first to be married that day. “Live streaming the service is great because it can be done two-way, we’ve had relatives in Australia and the Philippines giving readings and speeches. “It’s something Dundee has kind of pioneered in our civil ceremonies.”


Local and international stars to take to the stage at Dundee Jazz Festival

October 8 2016

A range of local and international artists are set to perform at this year's Dundee Jazz Festival. The line up for the annual event has been announced, featuring a wide selection of musical genres and acts. As well as traditional jazz, blues rock, hip-hop and swing will also be on the cards at venues across the city centre. Highlights include double MOVO award winning saxophonist and rapper Soweto Kinch at The Reading Rooms and Dundonian Gordon McNeil at the Dundee Rep. Agnese Daverio, festival producer, said: "We are delighted to invite so many great international and local musicians to play in Dundee, from the likes of American Nikki Hill and Aaron Diehl to Dundonians Gordon McNeil and Vardo. "We’re also very excited about our new collaboration with the Reading Rooms, and our return to the Rep for the late jazz night session. The Gardyne Theatre remains our core venue with its great acoustics, comfortable seating and easy parking. This year we’re presenting more activities in the city centre with the aim to grow the festival further in the years to come. "We’re hoping to engage with a wide range of people from the local community, from older generations to younger music fans, hence our programme is very varied and presents a different flavour every night – from edgy sounds by rapper/saxophonist Soweto Kinch, to rootsy rock by Nikki Hill and classic jazz tunes from the swing era presented in the Story of Swing by the Scottish Swing Orchestra. "As jazz is a term that umbrellas over many different styles of music, we are presenting Jazz in the Ferry, an afternoon packed of great music, during which eight bands will be taking the stage across five venues, and where audiences can freely roam between sites with a rover ticket. "This event is also great for those who are not quite sure whether jazz is for them or not, as it gives them the opportunity to explore and sample different genres at once." The event takes place from November 16-20. Tickets are available online or through the city box office, with some bookings available through individual venues.  

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

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.

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.