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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


Darwin academic accused of ‘poor and lazy research’

March 19 2016

An Edinburgh University scientist, who has spent years forensically researching the work of Charles Darwin, has rubbished claims that the Origin of Species author plagiarised a Perthshire farmer. Julian Derry, who has published on Darwin under the name J.F. Derry, said the claims by Nottingham Trent University lecturer and leading criminologist Dr Mike Sutton were down to “very poor and lazy research offset by a big aggressive ego”. In a lively lecture organised by the Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group at the James Hutton Institute, Invergowrie, on Thursday night, Dr Sutton claimed that Darwin may have ‘borrowed’ the theory of natural selection from the relatively unknown Carse of Gowrie fruit farmer Patrick Matthew. As revealed by The Courier, he challenged the orthodox view that Darwin was the first to discover the process of natural selection and that the Origin of Species, published in 1859, had been heavily influenced by Matthew’s book ‘On Naval Timber and Arboriculture’, published in 1831, which contains the complete hypothesis of the theory of natural selection. He also claimed that Darwin, who always denied plagiarism, and his co-publisher Alfred Russel Wallace, must not only have been aware of Matthew’s work but borrowed from it heavily. Sutton claimed Scotland had been denied a “science hero” and that a “great injustice” had been done. But in an open letter sent to members of the Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group yesterday, Mr Derry, who did not attend Thursday’s lecture, said that while Matthew was “clearly a great man of vision”, he did not influence the course of evolutionary history in the way that is claimed. He said: “Darwin and Wallace did not plagiarise Matthew, and were not tipped off to his discovery of natural selection by their circle of friends and colleagues. Or rather, if any of this did occur, it has not been shown to have done so by the data presented by Dr Sutton. “Why I say this, like this, carefully and cautiously, is because as a scientist, I must be confident beyond any reasonable doubt that the data and its interpretation do prove that these events happened as claimed. This is quite a different philosophy to the one underlying Dr Sutton’s research. “I have never heard a scientist in any discipline use the kind of language that he does to criticise others and qualify his findings, for example, “100% certainty”. Every scientist I know worth their salt doesn’t even have the phrase in their vocabulary.” Dr Sutton could not be contacted yesterday. Fiona Ross, chairperson of Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group said: “I will leave the ‘scientific battle of words’ with regards to Dr Sutton’s comprehensive “newly found data” to my eminent peers. However, what is a reality in our community is that most local people have just never heard of Matthew! “A prolific farmer, botanist, anthropologist and campaigner for sustainable communities in the 19th Century. A man who created a 10,000 tree orchard, the largest on record here, in an area with a 800 year orchard heritage! “Preston Watson, a man, who it is argued flew the first flight before the Wright Brothers, at Errol Airfield, at least has a road named after him. “Matthew, a man who discovered ‘natural selection’ in plants 30 years before Darwin, had his grave in Errol graveyard covered over a few years later by the burial of local businessman. “Our question is why has his legacy gone without respectful recognition? And how can we address that! The aim of this week’s collaboration with Dr Sutton, Matthew’s descendants and the Hutton Institute, was to promote Matthew’s legacy locally and nationally. At last night’s lecture, we asked the 60 attendees if they would support this work and the answer was a resounding Yes!’”


‘Forgotten’ Carse of Gowrie farmer credited with bringing giant redwood seeds to Scotland

August 19 2017

An American botanic and natural science illustrator is travelling to Dundee on Sunday to give a talk about giant redwood trees – and the role played by “forgotten” 19th century Perthshire fruit farmer Patrick Matthew who, it is believed,  introduced them to Scotland. Peggy Edwards will visit the Dundee University Botanic Gardens to talk about the Californian Sequoiadendron giganteum – the ‘giant redwood’ – and its historical journey from America to the Carse of Gowrie in 1853. James Veitch and William Lobb, from Exeter, have previously taken the prize of being the first to introduce the seeds to Scotland. But Ms Edwards, who lives in California, says it is now widely recognised that Matthews’ seed stock arrived first. She said: “I've always had a keen interest in the British plant hunters who went to America in the 19th century - so many of our species in California bear their names, David Douglas (Douglas Fir), Archibald Menzies etc. “I have been visiting Scotland for 10 years and found out about the Matthew redwoods while researching the history of the 12 redwoods on Gillies Hill near Cambusbarron, Stirling. “There is no doubt in my mind that the Matthew redwood seeds were sent to Patrick Matthew by his son, John, several months before Lobb brought his seeds and saplings to England. “After collecting seed in the grove in June 1853, John Matthew sent by steamer to his father back in Scotland, a packet of Giant Sequoia seeds, a branch from an 1800 year old tree,  a sketch of the tree, and a letter describing the grove. The shipment arrived on  August 18, 1853.” The talk is a pre-event for a Patrick Matthew Memorial Project event being organised by the Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group on September 29. It follows controversy as to whether Patrick Matthew came up with the idea of ‘natural selection’ amongst humans 30 years before Englishman Charles Darwin published Origin of the Species in November 1859. Last year Dr Mike Sutton, a criminologist at Nottingham Trent University, claimed Scotland had been denied a “science hero” and that a “great injustice” had been done. He said his evidence suggested Darwin, who always denied plagiarism, must not only have been aware of Matthew’s work but borrowed heavily from it. Sutton’s findings have recently been published in a book ‘Nullius in Verba – Darwin’s Greatest Secret’. But it has prompted a bitter and ongoing war of words with Darwin author Julian Derry maintaining that Sutton’s work is “lazy” and mostly “fiction”, and that his methods, ideas and interpretation are all “flawed”. Sutton has defended his position, telling The Courier: “Obviously, the independently verifiable facts that I have originally discovered and published in peer reviewed journal articles and books about Charles Darwin and Patrick Matthew are a significant threat to the Darwin Industry and Darwin super fans alike. “Unable to respond to the facts honestly in the academic press all we have seen is fact denial behaviour and personal abuse and sully attempts at character assassination directed at me.” The Peggy Edwards talk takes place at Dundee Botanic Gardens from 1.30pm to 3.30pm on Sunday August 20. Entry is by ticket only and these are available from Eventbrite or by emailing carsesus@btinternet.com. For more infromation on the Patrick Matthew Weekend Memorial Project which runs from September 29 to October 1 go to www.carsesus.org


‘Absurd’ to suggest Perthshire farmer was ‘hard done by Scottish hero’, claims botanist

March 25 2016

A Fife-based botanist has added his voice to a heated ongoing row over the work of Charles Darwin and relatively unknown 19the century Perthshire fruit farmer Patrick Matthew. Dr Neil Paterson, who lives in Wormit, said he respected the work of Nottingham Trent University’s Dr Mike Sutton, who challenged the orthodox view that Darwin was the first to discover the process of natural selection. However, Dr Paterson said it was “absurd” to suggest that Matthew was a “hard done by Scottish hero”. Dr Paterson, who works in Dundee, told The Courier: “There’s always a concern with debates on these matters within the mass media. “As with climate change and MMR it looks as though there are equally weighted sides when in fact there is a mass of qualified opinion on one side and a mere handful on the other. “All this was aired in 2014 (when Sutton published his theory) and the Darwin scholars rightly made it clear that this is really a non-issue. “I’m not casting doubt on Sutton’s work but on the extreme interpretation he puts on it. Even if his work is 100% correct he has certainly not shown that Darwin and Wallace separately stole from Patrick Matthew and then combined with others to suppress this. “I do hold it as absurd also to make out Patrick Matthew as a hard done by Scottish hero. He received proper credit in his lifetime from Darwin and has his correct footnote in history. “If we want to boost an unfortunately too small Scottish reputation then let’s get to work on James Hutton - but that’s another story!” Simmering accusations of scientific fraud were ignited last week when The Courier previewed a lively lecture by Sutton organised by the Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group at the James Hutton Institute, Invergowrie. Dr Sutton said there was evidence that Darwin’s Origin of Species, published in 1859, had been heavily influenced by Matthew’s book ‘On Naval Timber and Arboriculture’, published in 1831, which contains the complete hypothesis of the theory of natural selection. He suggested that Darwin, who always denied plagiarism, and his co-publisher Alfred Russell Wallace, must not only have been aware of Matthew’s work but borrowed from it heavily. Sutton claimed Scotland had been denied a “science hero” and that a “great injustice” had been done. But a bitter war of words followed with Darwin author Julian Derry of Edinburgh University, who did not attend the lecture, accusing Dr Sutton of “very poor and lazy research offset by a big aggressive ego”. Dr Sutton stood by his work and accused Mr Derry of having a “weirdly closed mind” whilst using “obscene language including the misogynistic four-word term of abuse in social media communications.”

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Football club stand named in honour of ‘Mr Kirrie Thistle’ Raymond Dyce

July 31 2017

A man who dedicated his life to an Angus football club had a stand named in his honour on Saturday. Raymond Dyce, who died at the age of 49 in 2013, worked tirelessly as a volunteer for Kirriemuir Thistle Junior Thistle Club. Over a 20-year period he did everything from cut the grass to wash the strips at the club. His greatest achievement was organising the rebuilding of the club’s main stand after the previous stand blew down in fierce storms at Westview Park in 2008. Vice president Wilson Coupar, who managed the club for 23 years, said naming the stand in Raymond’s honour was a fitting tribute. He said: “He started off training with the club and got involved with the committee in the mid-1990s. “If he decided something was to be done, it was done. “Over the years he was secretary, treasurer, reserve goalkeeper and vice president. He always ran our sportsman’s dinner. He really was Mr Kirrie Thistle. “A stand blew down in 2008 and if it wasn’t for him it would be sitting as a heap of rubble or there would be nothing there. “He was the main force on that stand being rebuilt. He also organised floodlighting. “We’ve always wanted to name the stand after Raymond to pay tribute to him.” Prior to the naming ceremony there was a veteran’s game and afterwards a pre-season friendly against Dyce Juniors. The ceremony was attended by members of Raymond’s family, including his wife Susan and children Claire and Ewan. Raymond’s brother Norman said: “He loved the club. When the stand blew down it was his mission to build a new one bigger and better. “It was a big undertaking. I remember that he went to Love Street, St Mirren’s ground, and gathered up as many seats as he could. I think he went down three times and rubbed them down and painted them. “He did everything over the years. He was a goalkeeper, he put the lines on the pitch, he cut the grass, he washed the strips. “We are honoured that Kirrie Thistle have done this for Raymond.” Raymond worked as a grain trader for Allied Grain, which he joined in 1987. As a member of Forfar and District Young Farmers Club, he took part in many of the activities, including speech-making and stock judging. It was there that he met his future wife Susan, who he married in 1991. He grew up at Nether Turin, near Forfar, and he educated at Pitkennedy Primary and Forfar Academy. Just before his 16th birthday and at the first opportunity, he left school to start farm work with David Young at Nethermuir, Rescobie.

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.


Gamekeeper offers reward for stolen dog’s return

August 1 2013

A gamekeeper has offered a reward to catch thieves who took a valuable working dog. The chain securing the kennels at the rear of Raymond Baynes’ cottage at Lochearnhead was cut and seven-year-old Lakeland Terrier Bud snatched. Bizarrely the crooks left Raymond’s other two dogs, Labrador Flint and Springer Spaniel Sunny, untouched. Raymond, 63, has worked on the Ardvorlich estate for 43 years. He said: “I went down on Sunday morning about 8.30 to 9am and there was no chain on one of the kennels, nothing to be seen and Bud was missing.” He went on: “I’ve had Bud for about five years. I’ll have to replace him but I’ve only got one or two years to go and he’s one of the best dogs I’ve ever had. To get a dog of his experience that’s reliable is not easy. Raymond said the dog has a distinctive look, with unusually long legs and missing teeth. His coat is a red colour. He suspects that a grey Transit van seen in the area at the time may provide the clue to Bud’s whereabouts.

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.