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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space…

Perth & Kinross

Black Watch timepiece sells out in three days

December 21 2013

A commerorative Black Watch timepiece created to help raise funds for veterans has sold out in just three days after being featured in The Courier. The limited-edition piece was created by master watchmaker Robin Devine and features the historic regiment’s badge and tartan. It honours squaddies from what is now known as the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS). Robin, of Toronto-based Time is Ticking, said the entire stock was snapped up by former Black Watch soldiers from around the globe. To keep up with demand Robin has been working until 4am packaging and posting all 70 of the timepieces herself. Robin attributed demand to an article which featured in The Courier last month. She said: “The watches only sold because of The Courier article that is an absolute fact. “People sent out the article all over the world. People were calling Toronto all day from the time the article came out until the watches had been sold.” Robin said many buyers told her of their memories of serving in the regiment, which dates from 1739. “The people in Scotland had such wonderful stories to tell about how much the watch meant to them,” said Robin. “There were some elderly veterans who had never used a credit card and for them to call Toronto to a far off country and to someone they didn’t know really tells you how important the watch was to them. “I feel like the watch is helping to keep the history of the regiments alive in a way that can be publically displayed.” Robin hopes to have a similar success with a watch celebrating the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, which traditionally recruits from Stirlingshire. Profits from the watch, which is available through the regimental museum or through the Time is Ticking website, will go to veterans.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

UK & World

Regiment’s retired Shetland pony mascot dies

February 27 2018

A regiment’s retired Shetland pony mascot, who met the Queen and served at Balmoral, has died at the age of 30.Cruachan III, formerly of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, was suffering from arthritis all over his body and in severe pain despite extensive medical treatment.Vets made the decision to put him down, in the familiar surroundings of his stable at Edinburgh’s Redford Barracks, on Tuesday.Shetland Pony mascots have been part of the Army in Scotland’s history for almost 90 years, since Princess Louise presented Cruachan I to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in 1929.Cruachan III joined the 1st Battalion the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in September 1995 and served with the army for the next 17 years, becoming the first mascot of the Royal Regiment of Scotland when it was formed in 2006.A Royal Regiment of Scotland spokesman said: “It is with a great deal of sadness that we bid farewell to one of the most memorable characters in the Regiment.“Always smart and never failing on parade he represented the Regiment loyally and steadfastly for many years.“He embodied the traits of the Scottish soldier; steady, hardy and even- tempered.”Cruachan III served everywhere the Argylls did around Scotland and England, including stints at Balmoral with the Royal Guard.He also served on several operational tours in the Balkans, Iraq and Northern Ireland.As Royal Regiment of Scotland mascot he represented the Regiment at State and public duties, parades and events, and was asked to appear in the Diamond Jubilee Pageant, in honour of the Queen’s 60 years as monarch, in May 2012.He retired from service on the last night of the 2012 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and then became stablemate to Cruachan IV, who took over from him as the official mascot.Corporal Mark Wilkinson, the Royal Regiment of Scotland’s Pony Major, looked after both Cruachan III and IV.He said: “I know for certain Cruachan IV would not have been as easy to train if it had not been for his calming influence, stern demeanour and occasional nip and telling off. I will always be in debt to him for giving me the opportunity to meet so many people, both civilian and military.“Her Majesty The Queen always asked for him and everyone always smiled when they saw him ­- this is a testament to how loved he was. He had been challenged with numerous health problems in his later years, which he has always been able to beat. Unfortunately this one was too much.“An animal first but soldier second, he held all values and standards we would expect in a Scottish soldier coming into work. Nothing was ever a chore and I will miss not seeing his face covered in feed every morning.“Goodnight Wee Man. Rest easy.”During his service, Cruachan III was awarded the NATO Former Yugoslavia Medal, the Iraq Medal, the General Service medal with the Northern Ireland Clasp, the Accumulated Service Medal and the Jubilee medal and won several awards after his retirement.An act of remembrance will be held for Cruachan III at Stirling Castle, the historic home of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, in the future.

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.

Perth & Kinross

‘Incredible’ response to Black Watch Museum revamp

June 26 2013

Poignant reminders of glories past and lives lost adorn every wall and fill every cabinet in Balhousie Castle. Over more than 300 years The Black Watch has carved out a reputation as one of the world’s finest fighting forces, earning honours in conflicts and theatres of war around the globe. As far back as 1745 then known as the 43rd Regiment of Foot the regiment saw action against the French at the First Battle of Fontenoy. Since then, in the Americas, West Indies, India, Crimea and South Africa in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, during the war in Europe and, most recently, in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands have made the final sacrifice in its colours. Those behind the £3.5 million rejuvenation of the regiment’s spiritual home hope there will be many thousands keen to hear their gallant story. And with more than 400 passing the Black Watch Muesum’s doors as it opened to the public for the first time in 12 months on Tuesday those hopes appear set to be met. Arriving just seconds after 9.30am were Denis and Esther Platt from Eccles in Salford, who were given a warm welcome by Black Watch Museum Trust chief executive Alfie Iannetta. Mr Iannetta admitted he was stunned by the response and is already considering new staff for the attraction. “All I ever wanted was to see something created that would carry on The Black Watch name forever,” he said. “This is what we have been dreaming about for the past five years and I am hugely proud of what we have delivered here. “The important thing now that the museum is reopened is that people now come here and enjoy it. “Our first visitors arrived the moment we opened the doors and we’ve since welcomed around 400 people. It’s been incredible and way beyond any expectations we had.” The museum also welcomed its first school visit, with youngsters from Ceres Primary School enjoying a guided tour. They also became the first to make use of the museum’s new classroom, where they undertook a project on the Second World War. Meanwhile, the new caf was filled with happy eaters, who sampled a menu created through consultation with previous visitors and filled with nods to military life, such as the regimental breakfast. “I couldn’t be any happier with the reopening,” Mr Iannetta said. In addition to an extended educational outreach programme, a series of special exhibitions will be mounted, with the first entitled The Sword and the Pencil. Learning and audience officer Rebecca Berger said: “Our first special exhibition will highlight artworks from the museum’s large collection of prints, photographs, sketches and watercolours.” * Stunned museum staff discovered a haul of antique newspapers after opening a soldier’s rucksack which had been untouched for half a century. In preparation for the reopening of The Black Watch museum, curators opened the bag belonging to Major Sir Peter Halkett and discovered the precious haul. Some of the newspapers stuffed inside were more than 150 years old, with the most recent from 42 years later in 1900. The earliest is a copy of The Field, the Country Gentlemen’s Newspaper, dated Saturday March 27 1858, and the latest is a copy of the Times, dated Friday January 5 1900. The regiment, which became a battalion under recent army reforms, is mentioned in the 1900 paper in a letter written to the editor. Although the knapsack has been in the collection for a number of years, this is the first time the contents have been seen since they were originally placed inside. Halkett carried the bag as a lieutenant, and later a captain, in the 42nd during the Crimean War. Emma Halford-Forbes, the museum curator, said the find had come as a complete surprise, despite the familiarity of the object. She said: “The knapsack was used in the Crimean campaign and it was part of his kit. We assume he put the newspaper in to keep its shape when it didn’t have his kit in it any more. “We’ve had the object for 50 years and it was really interesting that nobody had noticed before.” Major Halkett was originally from Pitfirrane, which is now a part of Dunfermline. He fought at the battle of the Alma in the Crimea, carrying the colours which are also now housed at the museum a moment which is immortalised in a painting by military artist Robert Gibb, entitled Alma: Forward the 42nd. Find out more at www.theblackwatch.co.uk

Perth & Kinross

The Black Watch watch is one to watch

November 27 2013

A timely tribute has been paid to the soldiers of The Black Watch with the creation of a special wristwatch to help raise funds for veterans. The Black Watch watch honours squaddies from what is now known as the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS). The limited-edition piece, which costs around £55, was created by Canadian master watchmaker Robin Devine and features the regiment’s badge and tartan. Ms Devine was inspired to honour the troops after visiting Scotland to watch her daughter graduate from St Andrews University. She said: “I happened to be in Scotland when The Black Watch and the Argyll and Sutherlands were being decommissioned as regiments and I was extremely sad because my daughter, who is now 23, has been dressed in The Black Watch tartan since she was five years old she was a highland dancer when she was young. “For the last 20 years I have been making all of the watch campaigns for the Canadian military for free. I’ve done this because the regiments were losing their history and they had no way of making a commemorative watch themselves because they are so small. “When I made a 150th anniversary watch for The Black Watch in Canada I said I had to make the tartan strap.” News of the Canadian Black Watch timepiece spread across the Atlantic and Robin was soon contacted by a Scottish veteran. She said: “William Gunning, who is a member of the Black Watch Association, Fife Branch, heard about the watch, called to order a Canadian watch and asked if I could make one for the regiment in Scotland. “I said yes because I had never done a campaign in Scotland before. The money from the watch will go back to the association to help needy Black Watch veterans.” The cost of the watch has been kept as low as possible to ensure elderly veterans will be able to afford it. “The watch is being sold in Canadian dollars, but when you include the tax and the postage it’s about £55,” said Robin. “The strap alone is priceless and it’s not just that money is being raised for the veterans, it’s the ‘esprit de corps’ veterans can’t wear their medals every day but they can put on this watch with the tartan strap and show the world that they are Black Watch.” Major Ronnie Proctor, secretary of The Black Watch Association, added: “We are really grateful to Robin for the kind and generous donation to our funds which go towards helping serving and retired members of the regiment in need. “This is also more poignant as we approach the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War in 2014. The Black Watch Association was founded at the end of that war to help those in need from the regiment and its core aims have not changed since its foundation.” For ordering information download the PDF at timeisticking.ca/blackWatchPoster.pdf

Angus & The Mearns

Passchendaele heroes added to Dundee war roll

August 10 2017

Three members of a Dundee family who survived the Battle of Passchendaele have been added to the city’s roll of honour. The Great War Dundee Project is the story of the 30,490 men that left the city to fight in the first world war and of the people left at home. Dundee gave 63% of its eligible men to the armed forces and the directory was updated following Saturday’s Courier article about the role the city’s Johnston brothers played in the war. Of the five Johnston brothers, Frank, Walter, David and Peachy were artillerymen, and the fifth, John, was an army doctor. Frank and Walter’s entries have now been updated while David, Peachy and John have now had entries created in the returnee section of the honour roll. © SuppliedWalter, left, and Frank, pictured in 1917. Gary Thomson from the Great War Dundee Project said: “Following Saturday’s Courier article on the five Johnston brothers who served in the war, with both Frank and Walter paying the ultimate sacrifice and the fact that Frank, for reasons unknown is not recognised as a casualty of war, the Great War Dundee Project has updated the entries for both Frank and Walter on the new roll of honour. “Dundee paid a high price for her war efforts. By the armistice, over 4,000 men had made the ultimate sacrifice. “Their names are recorded in the city’s original roll of honour, a simple alphabetical list of names, ranks and regiments. “Over the years mistakes and omissions have been discovered by families viewing the list resulting in handwritten corrections to the record.” © SuppliedWalter, left, and Frank Johnston, pictured at Balgray Farmhouse in Dundee. Mr Thomson said one of Great War Dundee’s main objectives is to produce an “inclusive, fully searchable online roll of Dundonians who contributed to the war effort” and in doing so honour the men and women who lost their lives and those who survived. He added: “Due to the fact that Frank was not recognised as a casualty his entry on the original Dundee Roll of Honour was very sparse with only his name and regiment listed. “Saturday’s article allowed us to contact Frank’s relative who provided us with a fantastic amount on information about Frank and Walter which have been added to their entry. “Not only that but the three brothers who survived, David, John and Peachy have now have entries created, in the returnee section of the honour roll. “It is thanks to people like Douglas that these entries now have added information and photos.” Frank is believed to have been wounded in Flanders in 1917 and he endured a prolonged and difficult death in November 1919 in a private nursing home in Dundee as a result of his injuries. The family have been unable to provide sufficient independent corroboration that he died directly of his war wounds as his army records have not survived. Frank’s great nephew Douglas Norrie from near Arbroath is trying to find documentary evidence to correct this. David and Frank were both with the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) and their batteries of large long range howitzers were deployed at Corps level and primarily used to attack specific enemy targets, particularly enemy artillery. Walter and Peachy served with the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) with their respective brigades being attached to infantry divisions and their smaller, highly portable field guns being used in support of infantry. The fifth of the brothers, Captain (Dr) John McPherson Johnston was a doctor and served with the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and was awarded the Silver War Badge after being discharged with TB.

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


Duke of Kent visits his old regiment at Leuchars base

March 24 2016

The Duke of Kent met soldiers in his old regiment when he visited Fife. Prince Edward, Deputy Colonel in Chief of the Royal Scots Dragoons Guard, toured the new home of SCOTS DG at Leuchars Station. He also heard about its new role as the UK’s lead light cavalry battle group and saw the Jackal armoured vehicles which have replaced the regiment’s Challenger 2 main battle tanks The Duke, who served with the army for more than 20 years until 1976, also officially opened the new corporals’ mess and had lunch with military personnel and their families. Commanding Officer Colonel Dominic Coombes said it was exciting to welcome him to Leuchars for the first time since the regiment’s arrival last year. He said: “For him it’s like coming back to the family. “Of course, the army has changed a lot since he was in it so we brought him up to speed with what we do now and what our role is as light cavalry. “As a retired regimental officer he has a wonderfully intimate understanding of the regiment. “It has been great to introduce His Royal Highness to the place in which the serving regiment is very happily settled and to show him what we have achieved since moving here.” The duke chatted with soldiers, including Lance Corporal Kyle Tibbles, Trooper Andrew Burgen, who is part of the Waterloo Troop ceremonial squadron formed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, and Lance Corporal Andrew Nairn, of the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry reserve unit based in Cupar. Lance Corporal Tibbles said: “He was intrigued to hear about what we have been doing.”