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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...

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

EXCLUSIVE: Blairgowrie nursing home faces shutdown

February 13 2017

A Perthshire nursing home faces the axe in a move which would force out 28 elderly and disabled residents. Four Seasons Health Care, one of the UK's largest care home providers, has confirmed it is considering the closure of its loss-making Rosemount facility in Blairgowrie. The company has launched a consultation with staff and the Perth Road care home could be closed by early May with its 28 residents - including people living with dementia - forced to find new accommodation. Rosemount care home has 24 full-time staff, 14 part-time staff and one bank worker. Regional manager John Kirk said: "The proposal to cease operating the home has not been arrived at easily, but we think it is unavoidable based on a combination of factors. "The main one is that the home has been operating at a loss for some time and this has been getting worse." For the full story, pick up a copy of Tuesday's Perth and Perthshire edition of The Courier, or try our digital version  

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

Readers' letters

Hope he takes fight to European courts

January 2 2014

Sir, I refer to your article, Glenrothes man ready for fresh “bedroom tax” battle, December 24. I fully support Mr Nelson in this and the other people who have been put in this position. I hope he does go to the European Court and embarrasses the Government into rescinding this ignominious regulation. I find it incomprehensible that this Government of the “we’re all in it together” philosophy is penalising poor people for having an extra bedroom while giving a council tax rebate to owner-occupiers for under occupation. This council tax rebate is paid for by us all. It allows an individual to buy a three-bedroom house and offset his council tax because he is a sole occupier. Surely the same rules should apply to everyone? But this Tory Government makes its own subversive agenda. They crack down on people abusing the welfare system, which is fair enough, but seem to think it is perfectly OK for a member of the House of Lords to walk away with £3,000 a month to support his mouldering pile. In what way is this man different to anyone else on welfare? Well, for one thing, he has a well-paid job that he appears to be too damned idle to do. Unlike the lower paid workers who don’t earn enough to support themselves and their families. However, what do you expect, he is a lord. You don’t really expect him to work, do you? It would be interesting to hear the Scottish Tories’ view on this. Lindsay Johnston. The Gauldry. What is point of obstruction? Sir, Heading south by car out of Cupar has always needed careful driving. Traffic coming out of Tesco’s car park has to be watched carefully as have vehicles heading into Cupar from the Ceres road junction. Those hazards negotiated, the next hurdle is residents’ parked cars taking up one third of the road and leaving space in and out for two lanes of cars only. One bus, lorry or even large van heading either way and one lane has to stop. Once all this is safely passed the road is clear sorry was clear. Out of the blue for many motorists comes a traffic island stretching across half the road. While there are sunken drains and holes in the road all over the place this sturdy, well-built obstruction appeared as an obvious priority for the authorities. Why? If it is designed to slow down traffic on what was a formerly clear road it is a failure. What now happens is that traffic heading south either stops and then, when their route is clear, accelerates in a rush to get on with their journey or, if there is no oncoming traffic, rush to get past the obstruction before oncoming traffic builds up. Between repairing the road and building an unnecessary obstruction the sensible option is obvious . . . to everyone except the road authorities, it would seem. Ian Wheeler. Springfield, Fife. Extortionate short-haul fare Sir, Over the years a variety of reasons have been put forward to explain the gradual decline in passenger numbers using Dundee Airport. In fact, for a while there was almost a “head in the sand” attitude as to what has always been a root cause viz the absolutely extortionate fares being charged for the short-haul domestic routes on offer. This was recently highlighted in your article, Service ‘is preposterously expensive’, (December 24), which drew attention to the experience of Mr David McGovern who was recently quoted a fare of £650 for a return flight from Dundee to London City. I had a similar experience some time ago when required to rejoin my ship which was berthed at the Excel Centre in London. A flight from Dundee to London City was logistical perfection. I put this to the owners who were responsible for my travelling expenses and they concurred that this sounded ideal but requested that I obtain a fare quotation before booking. The fare quoted bore no resemblance to reality and I was promptly instructed to abandon the idea and book the shuttle from Edinburgh to Heathrow at a fraction of the cost. To put things into proper perspective here, the £650 fare quoted to Mr McGovern for his flight to London City actually buys you a return flight from Glasgow to Bangkok via Dubai with Emirates Airlines and includes some 15 hrs of free in-flight food and drink. Until Dundee Airport can come up with services offering competitive fares it is going nowhere. Roy R Russell. 1c Smithy Road, Balmullo. Seasonal sanctimony Sir, Few can have been surprised when a sanctimonious Vince Cable compared David Cameron to Enoch Powell because he voiced concern over the new immigrant flood. Mr Cable was supported by his posturing party leader Nick Clegg who grandly declared he would not tolerate any further curbs on EU immigration. The Lib Dem leader made the absurd claim that Tories want a “no-entry sign” on the cliffs of Dover and “German lawyers, Dutch accountantsand Finnish engineers expelled”. In fact, Mr Cameron’s real sin has been to reflect the views of Joe Public who, in the eyes of the metropolitan elite, is too stupid to have an opinion worthy of consideration. The tsunami will not trouble Mr Cable’s leafy Thameside constituency, but others already struggle with the immigrant impact on their schools, transport and health care. Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.

Readers' letters

November 28: Removal of this flight is a backward step

November 28 2012

Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, - On Sunday I enjoyed my last flight from Belfast to Dundee, as these flights are due to end on December 2. It seems ironic at a time of Dundee seeking UK City of Culture status that it has proved impossible to sustain air links with Belfast and Birmingham. I have taught students from Northern Ireland over many years and, universally, they regretted being unable to use this flight due to the high cost. This factor also deterred their parents and extended family members visiting more frequently. While this represents only anecdotal evidence, it begs the question how an airline serving an area with three universities heavily populated by NI students was unable or unwilling to exploit this most obvious of markets. The issue became quite stark for me when I attended a meeting in Belfast and my colleague from Birmingham paid less than half the fare I paid with the same airline. I accept that airline costs are perhaps more complex than a simple mind like mine can appreciate, but wish to add my voice to the many who will miss this service and see its removal as a backward step when we should be embracing and preparing for the very positive changes likely to derive from the V&A. Dr Brenda Gillies.12 Victoria Street,Newport. Care comes before profit Sir, - The council that slashed services for the elderly (in Fife) was led by one Peter Grant. He now has the audacity to criticise Labour's policy of creating a care village for older people. That plan is both interesting and admirable and relieves all of us from worrying about the privatisation of elderly care. A care village would operate with 12-15 bed areas and that is preferable to the vast, solely profit-making, granny farms that privatisation would have provided. Privatisation means concentrating on profits. Mr Grant claims care workers will all be low paid. Does he not know that virtually all care jobs in private homes only get the minimum wage level? Mr Grant and his SNP and Lib Dem colleagues increased home care charges from £4 a week to £11 an hour. On even one hour of care a day, that is more than 1800% of an increase. The shopping and pension collection was increased to £7 before it was completely cut. What a caring lot the SNP and Lib Dems are. Support services have to be available to enable caring families to keep loved ones in community settings for as long as possible. If that becomes impossible, then at least to ensure that residents in homes will be cared for and treated with respect. Allowing profit to be any sort of justification would be inhumane in the extreme. Choose privatisation and you get blatant profiteering. The essential support for care at home are the home carers, people who come out in all weather and give support and are always cheery and encouraging. I willingly admit to benefiting from their invaluable help. Agnes Joyce Smith. 4 Lime Grove,Methil,Leven. Tax taps could be turned off Sir, - The recent decision by the judges at the Rangers tax tribunal is an interesting one. If employers are to be allowed to reward employees with "loans", deposited off shore in tax havens, instead of by wages and salaries (taxed), then what about all employers and employees? I believe that a precedent has been set. Let us hope that HMRC pursues its appeal with vigour and that the UK Government urgently reviews tax laws, before the Treasury finds taps from the private sector being turned off legally. A T Geddie.68 Carleton Avenue,Glenrothes. Not under my control at all Sir, - Your piece on direct debits reminded me of a problem I had when I moved to a smaller house and wished to reduce my direct debit from my RBS account to Scottish Hydro Electric. I wrote to RBS to ask them to do this and was told the instruction had to come from Scottish Hydro Electric, not me. I had thought I was in control of my own finances. Garry Barnett.The Garden House,Campsie Hill,Guildtown,Perth. Decision is disgraceful Sir, - The decision by Rotherham's Labour-run social services to remove children from foster carers because they are members of UKIP is disgraceful. This is Britain, not some tinpot communist dictatorship. God forbid that the Labour Party in its present form ever runs this country again. Stuff their political correctness. George Aimer.82 Kinghorne Road,Dundee. How do they know this? Sir, - How does a council's social work service know which party someone is a member of? Does your local council have a record of the party of which you may be a member? Mike Scott-Hayward.Chairman UKIP Scotland.Sawmill House,Kemback Bridge,Fife. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL. Letters should be accompanied by an address and a daytime telephone number.

UK & World

‘Breaking Bad-style’ murderer of police officer Gordon Semple jailed for life

December 12 2016

Stefano Brizzi, 50, has been jailed for life for strangling a police officer during a bondage sex session and then attempting to cook and eat parts of his body. Brizzi admitted he was inspired by his favourite TV series Breaking Bad as he tried to get away with killing 59-year-old PC Gordon Semple by also dissolving his flesh in an acid bath. Last month, the former Morgan Stanley IT developer was found guilty of murder by a majority of 10 to two after a jury at the Old Bailey had deliberated for more than 30 hours. The estate where Semple’s remains were found (Jonathan Brady/PA) Semple was a “caring and gentle person” and “much loved” by his family, who were left devastated with the news of his murder, the court heard. The trial had heard that Brizzi met his victim on gay dating app Grindr and arranged a “hot, dirty, sleazy session” at his flat near London’s Tate Modern gallery on April 1. According to Brizzi, Semple died when a dog leash he had been wearing slipped as they played a “strangulation game”. But a pathologist concluded that while strangulation was a possible cause of death, it would have taken minutes rather than moments, as the defendant had claimed. Stefano Brizzi has been jailed for life (Metropolitan Police/PA) In the days after the killing, Brizzi was caught on CCTV buying buckets, a perforated metal sheet and cleaning products from a DIY store. He then set about dismembering the body, stripping the flesh, burning some in the oven and mixing some with acid in the bath. Semple’s long-term partner, Gary Meeks, reported him missing when he failed to return to their home in Dartford, Kent. Neighbours complained about the stench coming from Brizzi’s flat and eventually called police, who came across the grisly sight of “globules” of flesh floating in the bath, bags containing bones and a part of Semple’s head, and pools of human fat in the oven. Pc Gordon Semple was strangled (Metropolitan Police/PA) Following his arrest, Brizzi admitted killing and trying to dissolve the body of the policeman because “Satan told me to”. Brizzi denied trying to cannibalise parts of Semple by cooking and then biting into a rib found in his kitchen bin. But at his sentencing, the prosecution said an expert odontologist had since confirmed that even though Brizzi claimed not to remember it, he had in fact tried to eat human flesh. Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC handed crystal meth addict Brizzi life in prison with a minimum of 24 years. Brizzi was also sentenced to seven years for obstructing a coroner, which will run concurrently. CCTV footage showing Brizzi purchasing supplies like buckets after Semple’s death (Metropolitan Police/PA) The judge said there were “terrible features” of the case and that Brizzi’s drug addiction had ruined his life. He told Brizzi: “Regret you express now for Mr Semple’s death has to be seen against what you did over a number of days to his body.” The defendant sat in the dock with his head bowed throughout the hearing.

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.

Perth & Kinross

Perthshire drivers put on red alert for squirrels

September 23 2013

Tufty may be an iconic advocate of road safety but his siblings’ lack of street smarts are hitting conservation efforts in Perth and Kinross. Residents of the tiny village of Collace have become concerned by the number of red squirrels found dead by the roadside. Significant efforts are being made to protect the population across the region and, locally, there have been signs of a slow increase in numbers. Lately, however, a number have been found dead, with residents believing that speeding traffic is the reason. The issue was raised at a meeting of Burrelton and District Community Council and was taken on by local councillor Lewis Simpson. Signs have now been erected in the village in a bid to make motorists aware of the popular small animals. In Blairgowrie, meanwhile, residents are asking for consideration to be given to measures to help red squirrels cross the road in safety. “There is a real problem on the approach to Blairgowrie at Rosemount,” Blairgowrie 50+ Art group member Diana Thomson said. “The number of dead squirrels you see on this road is absolutely horrible. “People on either side of the road feed them and they then cross the road without a care in the world, only to be hit by passing traffic. “I was driving past the other day when I saw one crossing in front of a car. I initially thought it had gone between the car’s wheels, but when I stopped it was clear that it had been hit. I rushed it to the SSPCA but they said there was nothing that could be done. “There are big trees down either side of the road at Rosemount and I wonder why a rope bridge or some other measure might not be introduced to enable these animals to cross safely. “I’ve read that red squirrel numbers are up around 7% across the UK. Hopefully this means that they are winning the battle elsewhere, but they are certainly not winning in Rosemount.” Members of the Perth and Kinross Red squirrel Group this year claimed that the population was in danger of dying out unless action was action. Scotland is home to 75% of the UKs red squirrel population but a combination of road deaths and squirrel pox has made increasing numbers a tricky proposition. The non-native grey species is not susceptible to the illness but is a carrier and can pass it on to reds, who will die if they catch it. The group has been working with landowners and householders for some time to protect the red population across the region, whether through conservation or warning signs.

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

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