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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


Weaving a little magic with willow

March 17 2018

Want the birds to flock to your garden? Gayle joins a willow weaving workshop and makes a feeder that’s popular with all sorts of species It hangs from an elder tree in my garden, it’s filled with a heady mix of lard and seed, and I’m very proud to say that I made it myself. Most importantly, the birds are loving it. This fab wee feeder took me less than an hour to make, under the watchful eye of Forfar-based willow weaver Rachel Bower. It’s one of the more simple structures that Rachel, 46, makes in her Forfar workshop, and it’s a good starting point for a beginner like me. With 15 years of willow weaving behind her, she is an expert in the craft and produces everything from stunning sculptures to plant climbers, trays and platters and a wide range of baskets. Today we’re using “Brittany Green”, a slender variety of willow which becomes supple when soaked, and hence, is popular in the basketry world. Rachel sourced this species from Somerset but she’s just started to grow her own willow in Kirriemuir – and 2018 will be the first year it’s harvested. “The rods we’re using today are a year’s growth,” explains Rachel, gently pushing one into a wooden mold. “They were soaked for five days in cold water and then wrapped in a blanket to allow them to mellow for a further day before they were ready to use. “The wooden mold holds four upright rods in place while we begin a horizontal weave with a fifth rod.” I’m one of these people who can become slightly dyslexic when instructions are given, even simple ones, and I need Rachel’s help to kick-start the process. When the four uprights are in place, we kink them down to join the fifth one in a repeated spiral weave until the rods meet together at the top. It’s not that easy to explain – a diagram would probably be better – so the best advice is to get a tutorial from Rachel or join one of her workshops. As I keep on weaving, my feeder slowly begins to spiral into shape, and with a little bit of help (quite a lot, truth be told!), I end up with a fantastic design. I then spoon in a sticky yet solid mixture of lard and bird seeds that Rachel has made earlier in the day. Rustic, yes, but what else would you want from a bird feeder? Once we’ve removed it from the mold, we trim off excess and tatty bits of willow, tie on a piece of string and Bob’s your uncle. I’m so impressed with my feeder that I pledge to sign up to another of Rachel’s workshops, perhaps one where I can cobble together something a little more complicated. Her distinctive style combines traditional techniques with a contemporary edge, and she often adds locally coppiced hazel into her final designs. “With a background in horticulture and an interest in making from an early age, willow was a perfect bridge between the two for me,” says Rachel. “Being involved in the whole process of the craft from the growing, harvesting, drying and soaking of the willow is as important to me as weaving the final piece.” A quick peek on Rachel’s Instagram shows a wide range of fantastic designs. I’m particularly impressed by a sculpture of a willow hen, willow ducks with driftwood heads, hazel sticks wrapped in willow, red dogwood and dyed hemp string, and a funky willow handbag. There are also some bird feeders very much like mine, as well as more intricate designs. Back home, I hang my new feeder to the branch of an elder tree in the garden, alongside some peanut feeders, and wait. I don’t have to wait long – birds of all shapes and sizes flock to it and start pecking away at the feed before I’m even back in the house. Among the feasting hordes are blue tits, wrens, a robin and a woodpecker, which continue to scoff away and provide me with entertainment. I’ll just need to ensure I keep the feeder topped up but the sense of satisfaction that comes from seeing so many birds is more than worth it. info Follow Rachel on Instagram and Facebook, (www.instagram.com/wovenwillowwork/) to see her work and keep up with future events or email wovenwillow@gmail.com. She takes part in local pop up and Open Studio events where people can visit and get an insight into the craft. She runs workshops on everything from bird feeders through to basket making. When she’s not working with willow, Rachel works for woodlands.co.uk, a company that works to conserve UK woodlands by helping people to buy their own to enjoy and look after.  


Discovery dance in aid of stroke recovery

May 28 2016

A Newport dancer will stage a special event in aid of The Dundee Stroke Exercise Group at Discovery Point in Dundee today. Rachel Kay, director of the London-based Creation Box, will put on performances to raise funds for the group at 2.30pm and 6.30pm. Entry costs £5 on the door. The event has been organised to raise awareness of how exercise can aid stoke victims’ recovery. Rachel’s father Trevor suffered a stroke five years ago and now runs weekly exercise classes in The Douglas Sports Centre. Rachel started her dance career at the Dance School of Scotland in Glasgow.


Child killer Rachel Fee’s appeal heard

February 3 2017

The mother of tragic toddler Liam Fee will have to wait to find out if she will be cleared of his murder. Rachel Fee, 32, launched an appeal against her conviction on Friday, claiming trial judge Lord Burns misdirected the jury as they prepared to deliver their verdict. Her lawyers insisted the possibility of convicting her of culpable homicide, even if her civil partner Nyomi Fee was guilty of murder, had not been presented. The pair were jailed for life at the High Court in Livingston last year after being convicted of the brutal murder of two-year-old Liam at their home in Thornton in March 2014. They had denied repeatedly assaulting and murdering the youngster during months of abuse and blamed his death on one of another two boys, who they were also convicted of torturing. Liam had suffered a ruptured heart as a result of blunt force trauma and prosecutor Alex Prentice QC said at the time the women were guilty of “unyielding, heartless cruelty”. Rachel Fee's representatives say Lord Burns did not direct the jury correctly on whether she and Nyomi had been acting in consort. The appeal before Scotland’s second top judge Lady Dorrian, sitting alongside Lord Turnbull and Lord Bracadale, was told the jury should have been given the option of convicting Fee of culpable homicide, even if Nyomi was not. Brian MacConnachie QC, who defended Rachel Fee during the trial, said that was not one of a series of possibilities given by Lord Burns. “He decided they would be entitled to convict both accused of murder, they would be entitled to convict both accused of culpable homicide, entitled to convict Nyomi Fee of murder and acquit the appellant but what he didn’t present to the jury was the possibility they could convict Nyomi Fee of murder and the appellant of culpable homicide.” Mr MacConnachie made it clear Rachel Fee had not blamed Nyomi Fee for the murder during the trial and that was still her position. But he said that even if the jury had accepted the pair had acted together in the abuse of Liam it did not mean Rachel had “signed up” to the criminal act which killed him. He also pointed to internet searches found on Rachel’s phone asking “can you die of a broken leg?” after the pair failed to seek treatment for serious injuries inflicted on the toddler. “It is a matter of fact the broken leg was not responsible for the child’s death,” he said. “It resulted from a single, violent blow administered to the child from which he would have succumbed very quickly.” Advocate Depute Alex Prentice QC, acting for the Crown, said he believed the crown had established the case for a murder conviction. “The indictment was drafted to set out allegations of a long term course of serious cruel treatment of children,” he said. He said the internet search term asking if you could die with a broken leg had returned the answer “yes”, and added: “She accepted in both chief and cross examination that she knew there was a risk that her son Liam might die if she did not get treatment for him and she chose not to get treatment for him.” Mr Prentice said Rachel had taken “considerable steps” to conceal injuries by keeping him covered up in public and preventing health visitors from seeing him and in the immediate aftermath of his death, she had delayed calling the emergency services and had helped to hide items such as a cage and cable ties used to abuse the boys. “There was no room for culpable homicide due to the nature of the injuries inflicted and the vulnerable state of Liam at the time,” he said. The appeal judges will issue their decision in due course.

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.


Liam Fee: Teen who hurled abuse at child murderers “some kind of hero”

June 2 2016

A teenage girl who hurled abuse at child murderers Rachel Trelfa and Nyomi Fee outside court was spared jail. The girl’s lawyer Alan Jackson successfully argued that if she was sent to jail she might be regarded as “some kind of hero” for verbally attacking the pair. She hurled verbal abuse at the Fees before a police officer ordered her to be quiet, Livingston Sheriff Court heard. A television news crew recorded the 17-year-old – who can’t be named for legal reasons –shouting homophobic comments at the lesbian couple as they arrived at the High Court in Livingston. Trelfa, 31, and Fee, 29, were on trial for murdering Rachel’s son Liam Fee and trying to blame the killing on another child. They are currently awaiting sentence after being convicted earlier this week of murder, attempting to defeat the ends of justice and a catalogue of child assault and neglect charges. They have since been dubbed “the most hated women in Scotland” because of the cruelty they showed to two-year-old Liam who was in agony from a broken leg and arm from nearly a week before he died of a ruptured heart. The teen, from Livingston, West Lothian, had just been released from police custody on the day of the incident on May 12. She was immediately re-arrested and appeared from custody again the following day charged with an aggravated breach of the peace. She pled guilty to behaving in a manner likely to cause a reasonable person fear or alarm by shouting and swearing aggravated by sexual orientation. Sheriff Jamie Gilmour took other unrelated offences into account when he sentenced her to be electronically tagged on a nine-month curfew and placed under supervision for two years with 200 hours of unpaid work to be completed within nine months.  

Angus & The Mearns

Gingerbread tribute to the Wee Red Town

October 14 2013

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

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

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.