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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...


Go green for St Patrick’s Day

March 17 2016

Every year on the 17th of March, around the world the Irish and also those who are simply Irish at heart celebrate St Patrick's Day. The day is celebrated in many different ways worldwide, with events each year becoming more innovative than the next.A spectacular sight is the Chicago River which is dyed green in St Patrick’s honour and in Dubai, the Burg Al Arab is turned green at night creating a truly stunning sight. These may be magnificent displays, but really, what could be better than celebrating St Patrick’s Day in the city of Dublin? Take a look at our top tips on how to celebrate this holiday in the city.St Patrick’s ParadeOn St Patrick’s Day (17th March) join in with the crowd’s lining the streets of the city to watch the fantastic parade. Crowds can exceed 500,000 and the paradeis broadcasted onto numerous major TV networked in Ireland and other parts of the world. Today theparade followed the theme of ‘Imagine If’ which reflects the youth of Ireland and their impact on the future.Guinness StorehouseVisit one of Dublin’s top city attractions and sample a pint of the famous black stuff. Over the St Patrick’s festival, the store house is putting on a number of exciting events including live music and lots of opportunities to jig the night away.Enjoy the greening of the citySee the famous landmarks of the beautiful city as you have never seen them before - lit up in green to celebrate the national holiday. Building’s that are participating include Trinity College, City hall and the famous Temple Bar.Guided city toursWhat better way to discover the beautiful sites and history of the city, than to go on a guided walking tour. Guided tours can include culture, arts, architecture or if this is not your thing you can even follow a pub trail sampling the delights of Irish beverages along the route.Spend an evening in Temple BarReally get into the swing of the St Patrick’s festivities and spend an evening in one of the most famous areas in Dublin, Temple Bar. Known for its busy and lively atmosphere, the venueson offerwill give you a true taste of Irish hospitality including live music and lots of dancing.The HolidayIf you fancy taking a trip to Dublin, to experience this great city and all it has to offer, take a look at our fantastic offers here.


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.

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

Angus & The Mearns

Angus councillor inspired by great-granny’s essay on the suffragists

February 9 2018

An Angus councillor has unearthed a fascinating insight into men’s views on the suffragists as the nation commemorated the centenary of some women winning the right to vote. Brenda Durno, SNP member for Arbroath and East Lunan, has been so inspired by an essay written by her great-grandmother in 1904, she is hoping to donate it to a museum in the north east. The amusing reflection was written in the Doric language by Isabella Moir, a 12-year-old pupil at Belhelvie School in Aberdeenshire. She was the eldest of 10 children and had two sisters and seven brothers. Councillor Durno said: “The celebration for the 100 years since women won the right to vote made me think of the essay. “My great grandmother was born in September 1892 and died in May 1992. “She latterly lived in Potterton with my aunt and uncle who ran the shop there and I found the essay when she died.” Mrs Durno chose to enter local politics in the footstep of her father, the SNP councillor Alex Shand, but admitted her great-grandmother was a Liberal supporter. “She was right into politics and was a great friend of Lord Tweedsmuir - the SNP wasn’t around then.” The essay relates to a conversation between a brother and sister as he reads a newspaper article on ‘The Suffragists’. As he works his way through the article, his views become apparent. He berates the efforts of the “limmers of suffragists” claiming “weemans place is at hame” It reads: “They canna mak an men their men’s sarks, keep a clean fireside an have a vote. “Gie then an inch an they wid tak an ill (mile).” The essay goes on to say there a was a time when women were happy “tae tak the chance o’ the first man that socht them, an thankful tae leave the voting an the rulin o the nation tae him”. It was on February 6, 1918 that women aged over 30, those who owned property or had a university education were granted the right to vote through the Representation of the People Act. Mrs Durno is hoping to donate the essay to a museum which specialises in the Doric and would welcome suggestions as to who to contact.

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.

Dundee FC

Comment: Dundee dominate at Dens to take sting out of Jags

December 16 2017

Dundee bounced back strongly after Tuesday night’s disappointing defeat against Hearts with this comprehensive 3-0 win over Partick Thistle. The morale-boosting victory also means the Dark Blues are now four points clear of bottom-of-the-table Jags. Dundee boss Neil McCann had labelled his side’s performance at Tynecastle a joke but this afternoon’s display was certainly no laughing matter for the Jags. There was plenty of zip about the Dundee play in the first half against a Partick side that barely featured in an attacking sense. The Dark Blues opened the scoring in the 19th minute after Partick gave away a penalty, with Danny Devine upending Sofien Moussa. The big Tunisian dusted himself down before calmly sending Jags keeper Tomas Cerny the wrong way with his spot-kick. McCann’s men extended their advantage on 35 minutes with Cerny blocking an A-Jay Leitch-Smith shot but Mark O’Hara was on hand to lash home the rebound. Thistle tried to make a better fist of it in the second half but fell further behind in the 65th minute when Devine tripped Cammy Kerr in the Partick box with Moussa again sending Cerny the wrong way with his penalty to make it three and easy for the home side. For full report, reaction and analysis, see Monday’s Courier.

Dundee FC

Captain Darren O’Dea declares that Dundee are in “good place” after Parkhead praise

October 21 2017

Dundee captain Darren O’Dea insists the Dark Blues are in a “good place” as they go looking for their first away league win of the season. The Dens men left Celtic Park with a bagful of compliments last weekend following a fighting performance that saw them take the game to the Hoops despite losing by the single goal. Praise didn’t equal points, however, so O’Dea and his teammates are still on the hunt for their first victory on the road. On paper, a trip to Firhill to face bottom club Partick Thistle today provides an excellent opportunity to secure three points that would build on the momentum they carried home from Parkhead. Whatever the result against the Jags, though, O’Dea is confident that the players are fully “on board” with what manager Neil McCann is demanding from his players. He said: “The performance at Celtic Park was good but the manager has told us that’s the bare minimum he expects. “What we’ll be trying to do it impose ourselves on teams no matter where it is and that is something we have been working a lot on since the gaffer came in. “I think we are getting better at it. “There is a long way to go but you can see it starting to develop. “Everyone is on board with what the manager wants to do. “You can’t come in and just tell people to act of behave in a certain way, you have to force it on them a bit and that’s what he’s done. “He has made it clear what he wants from us and the standards he’s got for this club. “You only need a small group of players to drag the rest of the squad with them and that’s where we’re at. “Even boys who are not playing but are on the bench are buying into what we’re doing. Their standards are really high in training as well so that pushes everyone on. “We are in a really good place at the moment.” Having tested Celtic to such an extent that Hoops manager Brendan Rodgers spent a chunk of his post-match media conference praising his opponents, it is essential that the standards stay high when they return to Glasgow this afternoon. O’Dea added: “There is a level there we know we can get to so we have to hit it every week or get as close to it as we can. “The result was disappointing but we have come away thinking that if we can impose ourselves on Celtic like that then we can do it to anyone. “There was plenty of encouragement and I really feel the team has gelled together in the last few weeks. “We have brought in a new manager and a lot of new players so of course it takes time but we are making a lot of progress. “It has taken a while to get here but we have had a few good results after what was a slow start, so it’s now a case of continuing this improvement. “There was never any panic when we were not winning early on because we could see the improvements we were making. “Of course, we really want to win an away game but, if you look at it, we’ve been to Celtic, Aberdeen and Rangers in that time. “We have also drawn with Kilmarnock away from home but we do need to win on the road now.” The wily, experienced player that he is, though, O’Dea is reluctant to read too much into Partick's poor start to the season, with a league win of any kind having eluded Alan Archibald’s men thus far. “I wouldn’t judge Partick just yet because they have been there before and came back strongly,” said O’Dea. “Last season they were bottom of the league at one point but they dragged themselves away from that into the top six. “They have a good squad and a very good manager, so nobody here is thinking like we’re going to the bottom of the league team. “Partick are a good side with good players so they won’t be panicking," added O'Dea. “They know they are more than capable of coming back from the start they’ve had - they have done it before - so they will be confident their season will turn. “Whether it turns out to be a false position for them only time will tell but I believe they are a good side and I expect them to win matches. “If we’re going to get anything from them we will have to be at our best. “We are confident going there because of our performances lately but now the results have to match that.”

Dundee United

Dundee United 0, Partick Thistle 2: Off-colour Tangerines slump to home defeat

February 28 2015

Dundee United finished their flat February with a two-goal defeat from Partick Thistle at Tannadice. The Tangerines have taken only one Premiership point out of a possible 12 during what has been a miserable month for Jackie McNamara’s men in the league. They have now lost to the Jags, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock, with the one draw coming last midweek against Inverness Caley Thistle. The truth is that they deserved nothing from this game, with the visitors always looking the likelier victors despite going into the fixture carrying the tag of possible relegation candidates. Thistle took the lead on 35 minutes and the goal was a cracker. A flowing move up the right saw Lyle Taylor back-heel the ball into the path of scorer Stephen O’Donnell, who curled the ball around the outstretched hand of United goalie Rado Cierzniak. Partick moved further ahead on 41 minutes when Kallum Higginbotham’s corner from the left eluded the defence and eventually crossed the line when a deflection left Cierzniak helpless, with both Jarek Fojut - who was credited with the own goal - and Ryan McGowan in attendance. The home team created precious little thereafter, with arguably their best move coming through second-half sub Mario Bilate, who threaded a great pass through to Henri Anier only for the Estonian to sclaff his shot on what was a poor playing surface. Anier had another glaring chance in the closing moments but blasted high and wide after a cutback from Nadir Ciftci found him at the back post. That miss just put the tin hat on a terrible day for the Tangerines.

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