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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

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.

Readers' letters

Irony of the Typhoon display at Leuchars

September 13 2013

Sir, As the RAF Ensign was lowered at the sunset ceremony at the last RAF Leuchars Airshow, well- informed observers and commentators would have seen the irony in one of the displays during the flying programme, namely the Quick Reaction Alert scramble of two Typhoons. With the planned move of air assets some 150 miles north to Lossiemouth, it is in danger of being renamed Delayed Reaction Alert or Diminished Reaction Alert as even travelling at a supersonic 660mph at, say, 35,000 feet, it is going to take the aircraft approximately 14 minutes to fly from Lossiemouth to Leuchars. RAF Leuchars QRA aircraft have been protecting British airspace for over six decades, with no complaints as to their ability to do so, and as a 9/11 style attack is probably the most likely threat to our airspace these days, it is very strange that these same aircraft will be asked to patrol our skies from Lossiemouth to protect us from rogue civilian aircraft that will be flying in air corridors over Britain, 95% of which are south of the Glasgow/Edinburgh corridor. It would appear that the politicians know they have got it wrong, but none are prepared to reverse the decision. The army are destined to come in 2015, even though rumour has it they don’t want to, as it is completely unsuitable for their needs the runway and its services are being retained for emergency diversions. The £240 million price tag for this folly seems steep, but when compared to the £1.5 billion which has reportedly been wasted by the MoD over the last two years, it doesn’t seem so bad. The taxpayer also gets to see £10.2 million wasted every year in increased training costs for the Typhoons, as they fly all the way back to Fife to practise in well-established training grounds just east of Dundee. The prime directive of government is to protect its citizens. Good defence is not determined by luck but by strategy, something the Government decided to leave out of their SDSR. Mark Sharp. 41 Norman View, Leuchars. Jenny’s got it wrong Sir, Jenny Hjul’s article (yesterday’s Courier) takes up the cudgels on behalf of “female exploitation” in lads’ mags. Jenny has got this one wrong, however. In cases of exploitation it is usually the end user, or purchaser, who is being “exploited” and these magazines are no different. The ladies whose images make up the content are being handsomely paid for being photographed, with their full consent, and the magazines’ proprietors are raking in the cash. Nobody is being exploited at that end of the trade, but it is the blokes who part with their cash to buy the mags who are being exploited. No, Jenny, it’s not male exploitation of women, but quite the reverse. It’s female exploitation of men for profit. It’s being going on since the beginning of time and trying to sound trendy by reversing the roles ain’t going to stop it. Vive le difference! (Captain) Ian F McRae. 17 Broomwell Gardens, Monikie. No Scottish jobs created Sir, The brief article re Seimens turbines arriving in Dundee docks should be of interest to readers. The SNP have consistently declared these monstrosities, which are destroying our beautiful landscape, create jobs. The reality is they are manufactured abroad, connected using foreign cables and do not create any Scottish jobs, courtesy of EU procurement rules. We all know the enthusiasm Mr Salmond has for the EU, so he is right in one respect. They do create jobs. For the Germans. However, they cost us all huge amounts in massive subsidies in our electricity bills. If, God forbid, we secure independence, we will have the euro thrust upon us, increasing cost even more. Iain Cathro. 31 Ferndale Drive, Dundee. Slipping into a ‘dark age’? Sir “Humans have stopped evolving” (The Courier Tuesday, September 10). This statement by Sir David Attenborough may be the most significant of his career and deserves to be taken very seriously by governments around the world. Should he be correct, and there is much evidence to indicate he is, then we are already in regression and slipping into a “Dark Age”. Perhaps it is now time for ad hoc “think tanks” to formulate strategic global plans for the way ahead . . . taking into account the objectives and aspirations of all good people before it is too late! Kenneth Miln. 22 Fothringham Drive, Monifieth. A great day all round Sir, Having been an outspoken critic of the traffic and parking management in the past, I must now congratulate all concerned with last Saturday’s air show. In light of the number of people attending, getting on site was, for us, a breeze. The show was excellent even though the Vulcan and red nine (only eight red arrows some shapes just didn’t work!) were sorely missed. Even the weather held up. a great day all round. Marcia Wright. 19 Trinity Road, Brechin.

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.

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.


Grove Academy pupil Amy MacLeod is third winner of Burgess Short Story Competition

March 12 2016

Dundee’s next generation of writing talent was honoured at Dundee City Chambers. Grove Academy pupil Amy MacLeod, 15, won the third annual Burgess Short Story Competition for her story Solemn Silence with a Stranger. The competition is open to third year pupils across Dundee and this year’s event received 63 entries. Pupils were asked to create a story with the theme “Ambition, Aspiration and Achievement, Dundee – A City to Discover”. Rose Porteous from Menzieshill High School came second, and Holly Dunbar from Craigie High School took third place. Elena Munoz from Menzieshill High School and Cara Kidd from Grove Academy were given honorary mentions. Each of the three prize winners were presented with a book token and a copy of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’sA Scots Quair by depute Lord Provost Christina Roberts. Amy said she was surprised to have won the competition. “I was just nervous about reading my story,” she said. “I really like writing and I’d like to do something to do with writing when I grow up.”The winning entriesFirst: Solemn Silence with a Stranger, by Amy MacLeod Dundee isn’t a well-known city. When you think of Dundee, you don’t think of spiralling skyscrapers reaching endlessly towards the sky, glinting in the sunlight. You don’t think of new opportunities, or second chances. You don’t think of “all the things you could do” in a brilliant place like Dundee. Because, quite frankly, and despite the protests of its council, Dundee is a simple place. It’s a simple town, with simple everyday people, and simple everyday shops. I’m not saying that being simple is a bad thing. In fact, it makes what I do all the more fun. All the more important. I’m an artist, you see. It may seem strange I know, and I understand why you would think it is. If anything, an artist should have a complex city as their muse, right? A city like New York or London, a place with never-ending back alleys, countless sceneries to gawk at and bright city lights to blot out the unimportance of people lying on the streets without a home, of people just getting by. I’m one of those people by the way. A person who wakes up every morning with the dull mind set of I’m just getting by I’m living, but I don’t feel alive. It can be very daunting sometimes, to have that thought constantly constantly at the back of your mind, interfering with day to day activities, reminding you that this was not how you planned to live your life, this was not your dream, this was not how things were supposed to be. It lets life pass by like a timeless blur, and eventually, you lose a sense of yourself, of those past ambitions you used to have. However, l am human after all, and humans survive by any means necessary. When things get tough, every individual person on the planet earth has their own method, their own way of coping with things And this is mine. Standing in solemn silence on a deserted pier in the middle of the night, with nothing but an old, abandoned ship creaking against the waves to keep me company. And the old man wearing a tweed jacket. But mainly the ship. I run a hand through my hair, brown and greasy, and allow myself to be curious about this stranger, with his old fashioned clothes, thinly framed spectacles and hair whiter than snow. We’ve been standing together in silence for well over half an hour, now. It would be futile to try and spark up a conversation. “A’richt” He speaks for the first time, startling me with a thick Scottish accent. “Whit’s eating awa’ at ye, lad?” I tuck my hands in my pockets. Never talk to strangers, I hear my mum’s voice echo in my mind, and maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t slept in three days, or the silence of the world at this hour that urges me to speak out, or the thrilling idea of taking risks for once in my life but I reply, and I reply honestly. “Nothing’s going right, sir.” I say with an exasperated sigh. The man chuckles. “A’ve bin thare, laddie. Ah ken tis nae easy.” He pauses. “Bit it gets better. It steals a while whiles, ‘n’ loads o’ solid wirk, bit it gets better.” I look up to see the man standing in front of me with an outstretched hand and a boyish grin on his face. “Th’ name’s Patrick. James Macintosh Patrick.” “James Cooper.” I reply, taking his hand and smiling slightly: we have the same name. “Och! ye jammy fellow. Ye git tae be cried efter th’ maist braw jimmy ah ken… Me!” He laughs heartily. I stuff my hand in my pockets again, turning to look at the ship. The Discovery was painted on the side in white letters. It’s a nice name. I glance at James, blinking in shock when I see how pale he is his skin is almost translucent. “Ah dinnae hae muckle time, laddie. Time isnae kind fur a soul lik’ me.” He says. “Bit ah dinnae git mony visitors, let alone at this time o’ nicht, sae a’m waantin’ tae hulp. A dinnae ken whit ye’r gaun thro’, ‘n’ ah ken it micht be solid, bit ah promise it’ll git better. Tis nae th’ maist helpful thing tae say, bit tis a guid thing tae keep thinking aboot. It’ll git better. Ye keep workin’ solid, ‘n’ ye’ll mak’ it.” I can’t stop the grin from slipping onto my face. It was nice to hear these words from someone; it was nice to hear that somebody believed in me. “Thank you, sir.” And I meant it, really. I’m not sure if I imagined it all. When I turned back, he was gone without a trace. But I thank him. Second: Ambition, Aspiration and Achievement. Dundee a City to Discover, by Rose Porteous I wake up. I rub a bar of olive oil, water, coconut oil, palm oil, sodium hydroxide and shea butter round me and drown my hair in shampoo. Then I suit up in work clothes. I sit down to some breakfast of toast and coffee and burn my mouth as I try to down the coffee when it is still lava. I am running late. I just make it to the site (with the time to watch Usain Bolt to spare), saying ‘good morning’ to people I see along the way; a guy on the corner smoking (why? It stinks.) with a name tag embroidery saying Mickey, a woman named Charlie and her dog (which was disposing of waste fluids at the time) and someone in a Boots uniform. I work as a construction plant operator on the renovation of Dundee’s Waterfront. I know, what a mouthful. My job is on the brand spankingly newly named Slessor Garden where I’m installing cables and pipes for utilities. Fun. I wake up. I wash then suit up. I plonk my but downwards to the same toast and coffee and set alight my mouth as I try to consume lava. I’m always rushing for everything. I just make it to the site in time, saying ‘good morning’ to the people I see along the way Mickey (still mitting fumes), Charlie and her dog (who I’ve noticed urinates a LOT) and the person in the Boots uniform. For 49386 years I put in the cables and pipes but, finally, it is finished and now I’m laying the trails the shoppers and walkers and workers will follow. My fellow rocketeer Fiona is working on the roads next to us and we exchange words sometimes when her roller rolls past. I wake up. I dispose of dirt and then put on my work designated body cloths. I sit down to toast and lava. I’m still one Usain from late. I make it to the launch pad, saying ‘good morning’ to the usual’s; Mickey the crane driver (again releasing gases), Charlie and The Colonel (peeing) and the guy in the Boots uniform. The trails are still ongoing but I am inserting overgrown broccoli around the area and you’ll never guess who christened (or fertilised) about seven of them (thou trees named Ed, Jeff, Bill, Ted, John, Phil and Zoe) as him and his mistress walked by. I wake up. I Scrub up. I dress up. Toast and lava finished, I speed to the site imparting a ‘good morning’ to the predictable; Mickey (what was he doing? Yes, you’re right) Charlie and The Colonel (christening/fertilising yet more broccoli) and the Boots uniform dude. On this day the salient nature carpet arrived in a convoy of council trucks. They were royally rolled out, what a splendid sight when we completed it. I had a scone and tea in my lunch break and my bus was late going home/ what a terribly British day. I wake up. I shower and then put on my suit. I sit down to Rice Krispies and orange juice and enjoy the lighting of day. I look at the time, time to go, and slip on my shoes then leave It is the opening day for the renewal of Dundee’s Waterfront. As I walk down Fiona’s road on the corner there is no crane but I smell smoke. I pass Ed, Jeff, Bill, Ted, John, Phil and Zoe and see they’re growing well. I feel weirdly patriotic as I stroll along the grass to the stunning V&A. Third: Knee Deep, by Holly Dunbar Stuck. She was stuck, entangled, ensnared. Trapped. The noise and dust clogging her senses, trapping her in her own mind. The aimless never-ending work dragging on and on through the day, even nights when necessary. Luckily for her employers, she was a women who ‘deserved’ very little pay, unfortunately for them, she was a women who refused to be treated this way. A pawn in the money making empire of Dundee, ruled by kings, queens, knights and bishops, dispensable and weak. If only the other women would stand with her, they outnumbered the men, they could rise up and take charge, be given more pay, better working conditions, anything. A woman wandered past her, shuffling through the Stour. Caught in a bubble even worse than some of the rest, deaf to the world. She wouldn’t stand for this! Men with their pompous arrogance and pride, as if they could be outsmarted and overcome by the brainless, clueless slaves that so cheaply worked to the grave. Her fingers were aching and she could no longer stand watching the horrors before her and the small bony hand reaching once again into the nearest machine to clean its inner workings, he’d already lost one finger. Flinging down her work she crept around the station to the back door. Her storming form travelled the road without her even thinking about it, the Tay glistened even with the heavy grey clouds from above, Fife lay across the water, dots of houses covered the green and squatted peacefully awaiting the return of their occupants. The small cottage near the river was silently beckoning her in with curling waves of smoke which sluggishly oozed from its crooked chimney. The door creaked familiarly and swung shut behind her as she approached the women swaddled in blankets in a chair by the fire which was reflected fiercely in a frail old face. ‘I have no pity for those who wallow in their own.’ Her tone was sharp and like a cold slap in the face, Grandma was not a patient women and had standards to uphold, even in her Granddaughter. ‘Penelope, you should be at work, I didn’t lose a hand just for you to slack when it was your turn!’ Her face softened, she patted her leg and Penny curled up at her Grandma’s feet and placed her head in her lap. Grandma was the only one who understood her silent communications, always had. Penny’s own Mother had barely managed before she died. She was a mute, a freak, but that didn’t stop her trying to prove herself. She knew her job had been given out of pity and knew there wasn’t much she could do to help the cause she cared for, at least not with words. Her anger drained as she realised with devastating clarity, she was powerless to do anything. ‘Don’t lose hope Penny-wren, you’ll get your chance, all women will. These men won’t always get what they want, one day this line they’ve drawn will be erased and there won’t be anything they can do about it. Just keep your chin up and make me proud. Come along now, get going, the ‘she-town’ needs you.’ The twinkle in Grandma’s eyes told Penny all she needed to know, grinning at her Grandmother she swept from the room with a kiss to the cheek and a slammed door. Penny sped down the streets dodging bicycles and people, glancing back at the Law and its solid presence, the Tay drew nearer and Penny ran down towards it. She took in a deep breath of the salty water which gleamed with a new light, she gazed up to the sky. Sunlight began to shine through the rain clouds, holding her to the silent promise, she was determined to keep.

Derek McInnes vows to ignore Rangers job link as Dons eye revenge for Ibrox loss

December 1 2017

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes says he will continue to ignore the “sideshow” surrounding the Rangers vacancy despite fresh links to the Ibrox post. Press Association Sport understands Light Blues chiefs are still targeting the Pittodrie manager to replace Pedro Caixinha. It has been five weeks since the Portuguese boss was axed and Rangers have yet to make an official approach. However, chairman Dave King is preparing to make his move and an offer for McInnes could be lodged as soon as Sunday’s clash between the teams is out of the way. McInnes, though, is continuing to focus on the present job at hand. He said last week that he is happy to stay put in the Granite City and for now is only concentrating on making amends after his side’s lifeless display against Rangers in midweek. “Things get magnified by others but we are the professionals and we get on with the job,” he said. “It’s always about the game. We just look at the next opponent. Everything else is a sideshow for everyone else to talk about. “We’ve had such a poor record as a club over the last wee while down at Ibrox but we did expect more of ourselves, especially having won down there the last time. “But we’ve got a chance immediately to put a smile back on the supporters’ faces again and that is the aim. ” The Dons got off to a nightmare start when they gifted Rangers an early penalty in Glasgow and went on to lose 3-0 to caretaker boss Graeme Murty’s team. But McInnes has spent the days since trying to lift spirits and ensure his side put up a better fight this weekend. The Light Blues can overtake the Reds and move up to second spot with victory in part two of this week’s double-header. McInnes said: “We’ve been second in the league over the last few years because we haven’t lost too many times and when we have, we’ve normally responded pretty quickly. “For us to be up there again this season, the need to respond is always there. “Wednesday was a sore one, I didn’t enjoy the day after, but it’s been important to get everyone in a more positive frame of mind again. “Now it’s another game and we do back ourselves. We do believe we are a good team. We’re sitting in the league where we are a good team. “It’s not all doom and gloom. People need to be reminded of that. “But at the same time we’re well aware that when you lose games, criticism comes, so it’s about dealing with that and responding to it. “So I fully expect us to do a lot better, especially in the early parts, to make the game go our way. “Like all teams, we’re searching for the consistency that will allow us to put results back-to-back. But first things first, let’s go and get the three points back that we lost the other night.”


Ahoy, me hearties! New boat trips on the Tay

April 22 2017

This week, Gayle explores Dundee from a new perspective – on a newly launched River Tay boat trip. As the hulking ship-like structure of the V&A rises up to meet us, a huge smile forms on Ian Ashton’s lips. “Everything looks better from the water,” he beams, and I have to agree. I’m on one of a newly launched series of boat trips on the River Tay led by Ian, taking in Broughty Ferry and Dundee waterfronts and a section of the Fife coastline. It’s a chance to see and learn a great deal about the area’s maritime history and a rare opportunity to get up close to the V&A. © Kim CessfordIan Ashton motors past City Quay apartments, Dundee Harbour. © Kim CessfordThe latest crew of tourists who enjoyed their trip. L-R: Jean Grant, Joanne Grant, Gregor McGillivray, Ian Ashton and Gayle Ritchie. If you’re lucky, you might even see some dolphins. Powerboat instructor Ian, 42, launched the trips this month after “test” runs with friends and family proved a roaring success. On board today are a couple from Arbroath and a lady from East Lothian, and a group of French people are booked in after us. As we leave the Ferry pier, a strong wind whips up and Ian warns we might get a tad wet. Not to worry as everyone is geared up to the max in waterproofs. © DC ThomsonThe V&A under construction, as seen from the water. © Kim CessfordUp close and personal to the hulking V&A. Passing the Ferry’s imposing castle, the RNLI station and Royal Tay Yacht Club, it’s not long before we reach Dundee harbour with its oil rigs and ships. We pause here awhile, as Ian, an offshore worker, talks us through the history of the drilling platforms and points out features such as the helipad and derrick (which houses the drill used to tap new wells). “There were a couple of Dutch and Belgian battleships docked here on a NATO exercise yesterday – shame you missed them,” he says. As we progress along the waterfront, a nasty niff emanates from the shipyards, which Ian reveals is probably fish meal. Nice. We then pass City Quay and its tidal gates, the site of the Discovery ship’s construction, and couthy, cobbled Chandlers Lane. © Kim CessfordSea gate at entrance to City Quay, Dundee Harbour. There’s also the site of a Second World War submarine refuelling site and, for me, the highlight – puttering along in front of the V&A. “The best side of the V&A is unquestionably on the water,” proclaims Ian. “You can see, on a daily basis, progress being made. Right now, the cladding is being installed. The gap between each piece is too short for seagulls to nest.” Some say it resembles a big ship and from this angle, it certainly is a remarkable piece of design, with Kengo Kuma’s bold architectural vision inspired by the natural forms of Scotland’s cliffs. Heading under the rail bridge, Ian points out a section of twisted metal – a poignant reminder of the disaster of 1879. As we speed under the road bridge, the sea sprays into our faces, which is exhilarating to say the least. Other fascinating sights include the Larick Beacon, just off Tayport, known locally as The Pile. © Kim CessfordThe disused Pile Lighthouse near Tayport. Built in 1845, this wooden lantern structure is one of only a few surviving pile lighthouses in the UK, although it’s not been used since the 60s. Other trips head out towards Tentsmuir Forest, where passengers can spy curious seals and bottlenose dolphins. Back on dry land, dad-of-two Ian tells me he plans to run trips via his company Pirate Boats Ltd through spring and summer. “The Tay is a massively underutilised resource; there’s a lot to see and a lot of history out there,” he says. “I love taking people out on the water and everybody gets something from it. But the biggest surprise is that although I’d researched sights along the river, on almost every trip, people have been chipping in with their own memories and stories about the Tay.” For folk considering taking a trip – even those who think they know Dundee inside out – Ian promises they’ll see a big chunk of the city they didn’t realise they’d missed, and I can certainly vouch for that. © Kim CessfordIan Ashton talks about the drilling platforms. © Kim CessfordChandlers Lane, Dundee Harbour. © Kim CessfordTourists getting into the boat helped by Ian Ashton. info To find out more or to book a Tay Estuary boat trip, contact the Facebook page of Pirate Boats Ltd or www.pirateboatsltd.com All trips leave from the castle pier at Broughty Ferry. Ian’s boat, Skua, is a rigid inflatable boat which seats eight or 10 people including children. He’s running trips every day between April 24 and 30. Ian is running a competition to win a dolphin-spotting trip on the Tay for four people. See the Facebook page for more details. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); COMPETITION winner to be chosen By Eduardo Allesandro Studios😁😁😁😁Your own personal dolphin as the prize!!! Well not… Posted by Pirate Boats Ltd on Thursday, 6 April 2017  


The age old debate: Dundee v Aberdeen…which city is better?

September 27 2017

It’s an age old rivalry that’s had some fuel added to the flames in recent weeks, with one councillor claiming Aberdeen is Scotland’s “forgotten city” following a major jobs boost for Dundee. So The Courier has decided to settle the Aberdeen v Dundee debate once and for all by light-heartedly comparing the best things about the two cities. We’ve called up our Dundee chief reporter Stefan Morkis, a man who knows the City of Discovery like the back of his hand, and online reporter Blair Dingwall, our resident Aberdonian, to fight the case for both cities. © DC ThomsonStatue of Desperate Dan, Dundee. Scenery B: Two stunning rivers in the Dee and the Don rush through the city and there are architectural landmarks in the likes of Marischal College and St Machar Cathedral. Old Aberdeen itself with its old-world feel is brilliant, as are the hidden gems of Fittie (a quaint old fishing village still intact near the harbour) and St Andrew’s Cathedral on King Street with its ties to the Jacobites. Duthie Park is one of the jewel’s in Aberdeen’s crown, but Seaton and Westburn parks are also worth mentioning. Dolphin spotting at the Torry Battery is a beloved pastime of many. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); The River Dee Aberdeenshire. Thanks to John Strachan's photography for sharing. Posted by Beautiful Aberdeen on Tuesday, 23 May 2017   S: There’s an old saying I’ve just made up that says Aberdeen needs two rivers to even think about competing with Dundee’s one. Dundee’s position on the sun-kissed northern shore of the Tay gives it glorious views over Fife. In the city itself you can climb The Law to get stunning views to Fife and back towards the hills of Angus. © DC ThomsonThe River Tay at sunset. There are also loads of beauty spots dotted around Dundee, from Balgay Park to Broughty Ferry. City planners haven’t always got things right, but the ongoing redevelopment of the waterfront means residents also get the privilege to watch the transformation of their home happening virtually day by day. Things to do B: Aberdeen has four cinemas, the best one being The Belmont. For decades this independent cinema in the centre of Aberdeen has been bringing great movies which the multiplexes ignore to city residents. There are always shows on at His Majesty’s Theatre, gigs at the AECC, and exhibitions at the Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Maritime and Gordon Highlanders museums. However one of Aberdeen’s greatest assets is its proximity to the incredible countryside which lies on its doorstep. Deeside is one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland and the Cairngorms National Park is just a couple hour’s drive from the city. Just up the road there is Newburgh Beach (and its seals) and the ruins of Slains Castle (which inspired Castle Dracula). The whole of Aberdeenshire is laden with ancient strongholds such as Dunnottar Castle, and in the summer the region is home to some of the best Highland Games around. In the winter it’s easy enough to jump in a car and head to The Lecht and Glenshee to snowboard or ski. © DC ThomsonThe stunning scenery at Dunnottar Castle, which is a short drive from Aberdeen. S: For decades, Dundee laboured under the stereotype that it was a dour, depressing city with nothing going on. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There are amazing tourist attractions such as the Discovery and Verdant Works, a wonderful museum in the McManus that brings the city’s history to life and even an observatory to satisfy star-gazers. There’s also a little museum on the waterfront due to open next year that might be quite special. You can even get a boat down the Tay to inspect the V&A from the water if you so wish. You might even see a dolphin at the same time. © Alan RichardsonThe removal of a large section of cofferdam has give another glimpse of how the finished V&A will look in its riverside setting. And that’s before we start looking at Dundee’s cultural offerings. The Rep has been one of Scotland’s – if not the UK’s – best theatres for years while the DCA regularly hosts shows by some of the world’s top artists – as well as boasting a great cinema showing the best films from around the world. The Caird Hall regularly hosts top acts and shows while open air concerts Slessor Gardens and the recent Carnvial 56 festival have all been musical triumphs. Add to that annual events such as the Literary Festival and Design Festival and you realise that Dundee isn’t punching above its weight anymore, it’s just moved into in the heavyweight category. Nightlife B: I’ll profess to being a bit out of touch on this note. Back in my student days the club scene was thriving with the likes of Snafu and Moshulu offering the best evenings out. However today you need look no further than the cheap entry and good music of Exodus or the always brilliant Tunnels.   S: The Reading Rooms is the sort of club where they put up a plaque to say Lee Scratch Perry played there and so, indisputably, must be very good indeed. It’s not just a great club, it’s a great little venue for bands too. Elsewhere Club Tropicana and Liquid and Envy offer up more mainstream fare for those wanting to dance the night away. © DC ThomsonThe Reading Rooms Pubs B: There are some great pubs in Aberdeen. Six Degrees North, CASC, Bar 99, The Tippling House, Krakatoa (formerly The Moorings) and the two Brewdog venues are always good for a pint; as are most places on Belmont Street. The Siberian Vodka Bar, Ma Cameron’s, The Howff and the Prince of Wales are among my personal favourite haunts. CASC, Aberdeen.   S: The first rule about Dundee pubs, is you don’t talk about Dundee pubs. Well, at least not by their real name anyway. Using the proper name of Perth Road favourite Mennie’s isn’t so much a faux pas as just plain weird. Elsewhere Dundee has outstanding pubs to satisfy every taste and quench every thirst. From The Phoenix on Nethergate to The Fisherman’s Tavern in the Ferry, there are a host of long-established, friendly boozers across the city. © DC ThomsonThe Beer Kitchen There are also newer pubs like Brewdog and The Beer Kitchen for those who prefer their drinks a little more hipster-y. Weather B: Since moving to Dundee I’ve probably enjoyed more sunny days than in a whole year up north. Seriously, it’s like Dundee has a weather pattern different to the rest of Scotland or something. This is subjective though. I don’t mind the rain and if you’re a lover of winter mornings then Aberdeen and the surrounding countryside is great. You can’t beat waking up to a few inches of sna’ and views to the snow-capped Grampians. © DC ThomsonSnow at Glenshee in 2014. S: You wouldn’t know it from this summer, but Dundee is usually sunny. Or sunnier than other Scottish cities. Scotland is still Scotland, after all. The Port of Dundee Food B: There are plenty of great places to eat in the Granite City. For me the pizzas at Borsalino’s in Culter are the best around, the tapas at Cafe Andaluz is incredible and you can’t go wrong with a New Yorker at the Siberian Vodka Bar. For Indian food Shri Bheemas in Bridge of Don is excellent and so is Royal China in Culter for a Chinese. Aberdeen was also home to the first ever Boozy Cow, a great place for a burger (as is Byron Burger in Union Square).   S: Dundee now boasts a huge array of places to eat. For fine dining you can head to the Tayberry or nip across the bridge to Masterchef: The Professionals winner Jamie’s Scott restaurant, The Newport. Meanwhile, you can sample Kiwi fare at The Bach, or sample street food from around the world at Food Anarchy on Perth Road. © DC ThomsonFood Anarchy, Dundee. And of course, there’s The Agacan, which has raised the humble kebab into something approaching an art form. Pies (Pehs): B: Surely deserving of its own sub-category. Thains, the late night/early morning bakery on George Street, is always worth the walk after any night out. © DC ThomsonThe butchery and bakery at Clark’s, Dundee. S: Did Thains give the world the Scooby Snack as Clark’s in Dundee did? I rest my case. Transport B: There’s only the one railway line which runs through the city from Dundee up towards Inverness. The old Deeside, Alford Valley and Buchan railways were phased out in the 1960s, much to the detriment of the area. Locals in Aberdeenshire remain dependant on increasingly pricey bus journeys to and from the countryside to Aberdeen. Traffic is also notoriously awful in Aberdeen, but hopefully the AWPR will ease that. However Aberdeen International Airport has always been a great asset for the north-east. S:  Sport B: No argument here! Aberdonians are largely united behind the one club (which, by the way, brushed aside Bayern Munich and Real Madrid to be crowned champions of Europe in 1983). In recent years the Dons have been the only side to offer Celtic much of a fight in the premiership. Under Derek McInnes, we’ve become the strongest and best Aberdeen side I can remember in my lifetime. © SuppliedWillie Miller celebrates with the rest of the Aberdeen players after winning the Cup Winners Cup in 1983. Other sports: Aberdeen has a fantastic dry slope for winter sports lovers, one of the best swimming pools in Scotland in the Aberdeen Aquatics Centre and an ice hockey team in the Aberdeen Lynx. S: Steady now. Aberdeen might have been great in the 80s when the won the Cup Winner’s Cup and then the European Super Cup, but Jim McLean’s Dundee United did just as much to put Scottish football on the map. And is the only team in the world that can honestly call themselves Barcelona’s bogey side. © DC ThomsonJim McLean is a Dundee United legend. Across the road Dundee FC are no slouches either and have a pretty remarkable history of their own and I hear people in Cologne still wake up in a sweat at the mention of the Dark Blues. Having two sides also makes Dundee far more interesting. There’s plenty of mickey taking but none of the aggro that’s associated with other city rivalries that spring to mind. Local culture B: If there’s one thing I miss aboot hame, it’s bletherin’ awa in the Doric. As famous names go, Lord Byron was raised in Aberdeen (his mum being from the local Gordon family). Writer Nan Shepherd and musician Annie Lennox also hail from the Granite City. © PAAnnie Lennox hails from Aberdeen S: Dundee has given the world the songs and poetry of Michael Marra, the novelist AL Kennedy, William McGonnagal and even, possibly, probably, inspired Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein. Aberdeen is where Irvine Welsh sent Renton to develop a heroin addiction in Skagboys. © DC ThomsonThe late singer Michael Marra. Now down to the nitty gritty… Whose gull “problems” are worse? B: You think DUNDEE has a gull “problem”? You know nothing! NOTHING!! Here’s some things I’ve accepted growing up with herring gulls soaring and squawking above me: A. They have always and will always live on the coast and culling them is not the answer. Stop making a mess and they won’t scavenge. B. If you don’t eat in public you won’t get into a fight with one (on a side note, gulls are huge, hardy b*****ds in Aberdeen and will win any fight). C. Gull poop on your car or head is a part of life. Accept it. D. The subject of much debate in The Courier news room…THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SEAGULL. There are 11 species of gulls in the UK. The word “seagull” is a nickname. © DC ThomsonLord Provost Ian Borthwick has seen an increase in gulls around Dundee. S: I am willing to let Blair win this one. After all, the cull is on so it’s not so much that Dundee has a gull problem, it’s that gulls have a Dundee problem. SPECIAL MENTIONS Classic Aberdeen moment An Aberdeen man getting his head stuck in a bin in the Castlegate. © DC ThomsonA man gets his head stuck in a bin in Aberdeen in 2012. Classic Dundee moment A Dundee dog blasts a car horn. Conclusion Take Our Poll