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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.


Roxburghe House rocked by Laura McGhee concert

June 3 2011

Cancer patients who were attending the day care lounge in Roxburghe House, Dundee, have been given an exclusive concert by Monifieth's international Celtic rock star Laura McGhee. The 23-year-old fiddle player's appearance came ahead of a charity concert in the city along with world-renowned violinist Nicola Benedetti, expected to raise thousands of pounds in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, which funds buildings and services at Roxburghe House. The young stars will be accompanied by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra at the event in the Caird Hall on Saturday. Before Laura gained an international reputation, she performed numerous concerts for patients at Roxburghe House. Her dad is a volunteer driver who takes patients between their homes and the Macmillan Day Care Lounge at the palliative care unit in the grounds of Royal Victoria Hospital. The talented musician, who flew in from Nashville, Tennessee, for the show, said, "The Arbroath Suite is one of the pieces I'll be performing on Saturday night and it's a musical journey of Scotland's history, but the piece itself was originally written for Roxburghe House and was premiered there." Nicola (23) said, "Like most others around the world, my family have been hugely affected by cancer and I'm delighted to be able to raise money for Macmillan through this concert. "I am really looking forward to playing in Dundee's Caird Hall and I hope the event raises lots of money to help Macmillan support people with cancer and their families." Laura's last album spent 10 weeks in the US Americana Top 40. Laura, who has recorded a track with Shane McGowan and played alongside Rod Stewart, added, "I am really excited about the City of Discovery Charity Concert for Macmillan. "Not only do I get the opportunity to perform my traditional concerto, the Arbroath Suite, for the first time with the RSNO, but I also get the chance to help a charity which is close to my heart." The City of Discovery Charity Concert takes places every two years to raise money for charity. This year the concert organisers decided to hold the event in aid of Macmillan to mark the charity's 100th anniversary. Around 190,000 people in Scotland have been diagnosed with cancer and this is set to double over the next 20 years. Macmillan wants to be able to help everyone with the illness, providing services including specialist cancer nurses, financial advice and grants for cancer patients with money problems. Tickets for the concert are available at www.dundeebox.co.uk or by calling 01382 434940.


Cheque for £23,000 makes its way through the doors of Roxburghe House

January 11 2013

Roxburghe House received a massive boost when fundraiser Jackie Campbell handed over a cheque for more than £23,000. Jackie, who works for Clydesdale Bank in Dundee, kicked off her fundraising with an interactive quiz at the Invercarse Hotel last May, before launching an online auction of items donated and sourced through her customers and contacts at the bank. In the auction people bid on a wide variety of items, ranging from dinner on the Discovery, rounds of golf and a cocktail masterclass to a studio recording session, VIP passes to T in the Park, a week in a luxury property in Spain and even a life-sized framed picture of Dundee United player Jon Daly. The event, the third fundraiser Jackie has organised for the centre, raised £11,575.87 for Roxburghe House. As its chosen charity is Help the Hospices, Clydesdale Bank agreed to match Jackie’s donation, which brought the final total to £23,151.74. Jackie said: “It’s a fantastic amount, which says everything about the generosity of the customers. “It’s a local cause and I think a lot of people have experienced what they do at Roxburghe House it’s not your normal hospital ward. “I myself have seen the wonderful care they provide, as my uncle died there.” Jackie revealed that, in addition to the generosity of customers, local companies were also extremely generous in their donations for the online raffle. “It was the auction which really raised the most money,” she said. “People were very generous and one local firm, Millar’s Specialist Decorators, put up a prize of a week’s worth of labour, which was worth about £1,000. “I was amazed at the level of generosity.” Clinical coordinator for specialist palliative care services, Irene Hillsden, said: “On behalf of everyone at Roxburghe House I would like to thank Jackie for the hard work and effort it has taken to raise such a large sum of money. “This donation is greatly appreciated and will be used to ensure that Roxburghe House continues to provide a safe and comfortable environment for patients and visitors.” awilson@thecourier.co.uk

Angus & The Mearns

Swiss driver wondering if Vinci Park knows its left from its right

May 10 2012

A bewildered hospital visitor has undergone months of confusion generated by a parking fine dispute. Parking attendants felt they had got Klaus Mewes' number when they saw his Volvo estate parked at Ninewells Hospital without a ticket in the window. The car park's operator, Vinci Park, has a policy of taking photographs of each car issued a fine. On this occasion, however, the warden failed to take note of the main reason Mr Mewes had not paid and displayed on the right-hand side of his vehicle during his visit the Swiss-registered model is a left-hand drive. Mr Mewes (77) has lived in Letham Grange for many years since leaving Switzerland. He has sentimental regard for his 16-year-old car, having driven it across Europe when he moved here. Now a simple mistake on an attendant's part has escalated into a three-month row over a £10 fine, which has been blown up to £75 by an English debt collector. Mr Mewes is fluent in English but has a strong accent and found several attempts to speak to Vinci fruitless, so decided to argue his case by letter. ''Letters were coming from Vinci at first,'' said Mr Mewes. ''Now they are coming from Roxburghe in Surrey, which is a debt collection agency." ''Then I wrote them on the 20th, with the parking ticket I had which was affixed to the left-hand side of the window,'' he said. ''But they had only looked at the right-hand side. ''The issuing officer enclosed two pictures that they took of the window on the right-hand side. However they didn't send anything from the left-hand side. Of course there is nothing in the picture, not even a steering wheel. ''Obviously there has been a simple mistake. I just don't understand why this has gone on and on.'' Vinci has a history of controversial ticket disputes, and has come under close scrutiny over the last several years, due to the Ninewells policy of charging patients and workers alike. The first correspondence from Roxburghe was on March 13 and Mr Mewes said they seemed uninterested in talking to him on the phone. ''And now it goes one letter after the other,'' he said. ''They are asking for only £10 and now they are asking for £75. The last one came yesterday but was dated the 25th of April, and I always keep the envelope to see how long it took. "I've had three letters from Roxburghe, the first on the 30th of March, and I had four letters from Vinci.'' A Vinci Park representative said: ''I am not aware of Mr Mewes' case but we will be very happy to discuss his case if he contacts us directly. Our parking charge notices are £10 if paid within 24 hours and when paid within 28 days they are £20.'' An advisor for Roxburghe said: ''We are unable to comment on individual cases for reasons of data protection. However, if Mr Mewes is experiencing difficulty in dealing with ourselves due to distance and language barrier, he can approach Citizens' Advice or a solicitor to act on his behalf.'' The advisor would not entertain the prospect of Mr Mewes having the fine dropped, at least at Roxburghe's end, adding: ''Any discussion about the circumstances of the fee would have to be with Vinci.''

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


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.


Carol Anne Taggart murder trial: Jury shown images of body found wrapped under caravan

November 20 2015

Graphic photographs of the body of a missing Fife woman found under a caravan have been shown to a murder trial jury. Jurors at the High Court in Edinburgh saw images of Carol Anne Taggart wrapped in bedding, with each layer removed until the 54-year-old’s exposed legs and elbow were visible. A police officer said some of the bedding appeared to match pillow cases seized from her caravan, which was on the same row at Pettycur Bay, Kinghorn, and her home in Dunfermline. The grim evidence was shown during the sixth day of the trial of Ross Taggart, who denies killing his mother and concealing her body beneath a caravan at Pettycur Bay. Crime scene manager Scott Roxburgh, 36, told the trial that sections of twine used to tie the body were the same as a roll found in a wardrobe in Ross Taggart’s bedroom at his mother’s caravan. Mr Roxburgh was then shown photographs of Ms Taggart’s body in the mortuary and agreed that a mattress protector, a red fleece, a lilac blanket, green twine, a black fitted sheet and a polka-dot duvet cover had been used to wrap the body. Mr Roxburgh said: “The most immediate wrapping to the body is a duvet matching pillowcases in the house.” Forensic scientist Kirsty McTurk, 37, told the trial that an examination of Ms Taggart’s living room revealed a blood stain that appeared to have been cleaned from the carpet, but had seeped through to the floorboards. In earlier evidence, the trial was told that Carol Anne Taggart died from a compression of the neck. Ms Taggart also sustained four separate blunt force impacts to her head including a 2cm laceration, forensic pathologist Dr Robert Ainsworth, 42, said. Advocate depute Iain McSporran led Dr Ainsworth through the report of a post-mortem examination of Ms Taggart carried out two days after her body was discovered by a police officer on January 11. Dr Ainsworth said Ms Taggart’s body showed signs of “early decomposition” and agreed this process could have been slowed by the body being wrapped, its location and the fact it was winter at the time of its discovery. Mr McSporran asked if it was possible that the time of death could have been as far back as three weeks. Dr Ainsworth replied: “It could have occurred around that time.” The pathologist said there was no indication of a ligature being used and agreed with Mr McSporran’s suggestion that the neck compression could have been caused by “throttling”. Police analyst Evita O’Malley read from her report of text messages and internet use on Taggart’s phone, including messages to and from his mother. In one exchange from July last year, Ms Taggart texts her son: “Apart from feed me you do f**k all. You are nothing but a sponger to me, Ross.” Taggart replies: “So where do we go from here? Do you need me to move out?” The same day, Taggart texts: “Mum, you are my priority. I don’t know how to help you if all I’m doing is stressing you out.” Ms O’Malley was asked about internet browsing on Taggart’s phone in the week before his mother’s disappearance and the subsequent three-week period. She said that a number of visits were made to Loveaholics, a dating site in the early hours of December 22, the day that Taggart told police his mother left their house following an argument. She said that Taggart’s visits to money lending and pornography sites increased following Carol Anne Taggart’s disappearance. She said: “There were 900 logs and half of these were to everyday sites like Google. “On January 12 there is a search for holidays in the Dominican Republic. The most frequently visited site is Loveaholics.” Ms Murray said that on December 30, Taggart’s phone logged searches for loan applications and pawnbrokers. Taggart is alleged to have repeatedly struck his mother on the head “by means unknown”, seized hold of her neck and compressed her throat using his hands or “an unidentified item” between December 21, 2014 and January this year. Addresses listed in the murder charge include Carol Anne Taggart’s home in Dunfermline and Pettycur Bay Caravan Park in Kinghorn. Taggart is also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by concealing his mother’s body within a void under a caravan at Pettycur and attempting to tidy, clean and remove blood staining and other forensic evidence from two addresses and the boot of a car. He is also accused of reporting his mother as missing and telling others that she earlier left her home and he did not know where she was. Taggart also faces a theft charge of using his mother’s bank card and stealing a bangle and ring and going to a pawnbroker claiming he had inherited the jewellery. The trial before Lord Uist continues.

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.