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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

Farming news

Moredun makes case to be home of key veterinary surveillance lab

December 10 2013

The Moredun Research Institute has made a strong pitch to become the home of Scotland’s new central veterinary surveillance laboratory. Speaking to the agricultural press ahead of the release of the institute’s annual report, chief executive Julie Fitzpatrick took the chance to point out the benefits of using facilities which already exist at the Moredun site. Professor Fitzpatrick has been widely admired over the years for her tenacity and determination to keep the Moredun as a pre-eminent force in the science of animal health. Her point has always been that although the institute may be small in global terms, it has the ability to deliver top-class services. The need for a centralised veterinary surveillance laboratory was identified in the Kinnaird Report of 2011. Compiled under the chairmanship of former NFU Scotland president John Kinnaird and presented to Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochead, the report made a number of fundamental recommendations aimed at improving veterinary surveillance, one of the most critical being the need for a central laboratory to eventually replace the eight currently in operation around the country. Prof Fitzpatrick, who clearly has the backing of Moredun Foundation chairman Ian Duncan Millar, made a strong case for the new laboratory to be sited at Moredun. A large, secure laboratory space previously used for BSE testing is available, and infrastructure modifications would be minimal compared to building a new laboratory on a greenfield site. Moredun also has scientific staff available with the skills required for diagnostic work. The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratory Agency (AHLVA) already uses the diagnostic facilities at Moredun. “We suggest that Scottish Rural College (SRUC) staff should also use this existing facility for centralised diagnostics so that staff may share resources to the benefit of both the tax payer and the livestock-owning communities,” said Prof Fitzpatrick. “This initiative would bring significant cost savings as there would be no requirement for funding of new specialised infrastructure that would replicate existing facilities. “The number of administrative, support and laboratory staff could be optimised over time for all three surveillance organisations SRUC, AHVLA and MRI with a reduction in recurrent costs,” she said. “Another benefit would be that specialised veterinary and animal science staff involved in diagnostics would be located on a single site, which will produce savings in the longer term. “Reporting could be undertaken by a team approach by the three surveillance organisations to ensure rapid and cost-effective communications with animal keepers, veterinary practitioners, Government and national and international bodies. “Succession planning and training of specialised staff would therefore be easier, and the sustainability of surveillance underpinned. “Specialised laboratory facilities are available at the Moredun Research Institute in the same building, including those for pathology, detection of parasites, viruses, bacteria, prions, affecting livestock, avian, and equine species.” It is no doubt a strong case but there is sure to be competition, and some of it from just a stone’s throw away from the Moredun’s home at the Pentland Science Centre at Bush south of Edinburgh. The Kinnaird Report certainly mentioned Moredun as the home for the new laboratory, but it also suggested the Edinburgh (Royal Dick) Veterinary School which is also at Bush. The Roslin Institute is only a mile away, as is Edinburgh University bioscience centre. Glasgow Vet School may also be interested, and of course SRUC and its SAC Veterinary Consulting division already have an interest as operators of the present regional veterinary laboratories. The Kinnaird Report suggested that these laboratories, including one at Perth, should not be closed immediately and that they should continue to offer post-mortem facilities, with samples then being sent to the central laboratory for diagnosis. The two-year time lag since the presentation of the Kinnaird Report may have suggested to the casual onlooker that it had been shelved, but it appears that is not the case. Mr Lochhead has decisions to make quite soon. The MRI team clearly want to be part of the solution when it comes to improved veterinary surveillance.

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.

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

Dundee

Ideas sought for Seabraes design competition

November 4 2016

Dundonians are being invited to design a space or building for children and young people at Seabraes as part of a Festival of Architecture competition. The Seabraes Yards Sketch Design, organised by the Dundee Institute of Architects (DIA) is an open sketch design and ideas competition to be held throughout November and is open to schools, the general public and professionals. The former railway goods yard is being gradually regenerated, becoming a cultural and creative hub a short distance away from Dundee’s two universities, the Rep Theatre and the DCA. Proposals, on two A3 panels in PDF format, are invited for site one, which is adjacent to the railway and is visible from Riverside Drive. Ged Young, DIA Festival Coordinator, said: “Seabraes is an area that, together with the Waterfront, is going through regeneration and we’re looking to engage with the public. “It’s important that we get ideas about how we’re going to use the space. “At the moment what is missing is a community space and it will be interesting to see ideas about how this could be achieved. “In particular, we’re looking for ideas about how the space could be used to benefit children and young people. It could be anything – a building, a playground, a climbing wall, a skatepark. “It does not necessarily mean that the thing would definitely be built, but the entries will contribute towards possible ideas for the future. “The regeneration of the area is a long-term project so who knows, some of the ideas may materialise into something real in the future.” The sketch design competition is one of more than 400 events taking place across Scotland during 2016 as part of the Festival of Architecture, organised by the  Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS). The festival is a key part of the Scottish government’s 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design celebrations. Entrants will be judged by a panel selected by Dundee Institute of Architects and winning entries will be presented at Making Space 2016 at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall, on November 29. The winners will receive a cash prize from a £500 competition fund and will be invited to attend a walk-round of the V&A Dundee ending with dinner at Malmaison. For more information and for the full competition brief, visit: www.foa2016.com

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.

Perth & Kinross

Perthshire’s Pictish past preserved

November 17 2016

Precious artefacts which link Perthshire  to a royal Pictish dynasty have gone on display. The Tay Landscape Partnership has been working with Forteviot Parish Church to conserve and restore several locally significant Pictish stones and a dedication service and unveiling was held in the church on Wednesday. Recent work by Glasgow University's SERF (Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot) Project has helped reveal Forteviot’s past as a major Pictish royal centre. Forteviot was most important in the 8th century AD, when it was the seat of the dynasty founded by Cináed mac Alpín (Kenneth son of Alpin), whose descendants ruled Scotland until the 11th century. Fragments of the Pictish carved stones, now displayed in the church, are from three separate crosses — The Invermay Cross, the Forteviot Cross and the Forteviot Ring Cross — and would have been important features for the local people. Speaking at the dedication event Professor Stephen Driscoll of Glasgow University said: “The installation of this collection of Pictish sculpture in Forteviot Church is important both for what it reveals about Scotland’s past and what it says about the community’s present. “It is rare for a community to possess such tangible evidence of its long-term history. In this remarkable case the link stretches some 1,200 years back to when Forteviot was the epicentre of a youthful kingdom of Scotland. “Although the pieces that survive here are fragmented, the high quality of a sculpture is evident and characteristic of Pictish royal patronage. “The care and attention given to these relics of Forteviot’s heroic age is to be celebrated for what it says about the health of the community and the wider institutional support from Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust, Historic Environment Scotland and the University of Glasgow. " Sophie Nicol, historic environment officer with the Tay Landscape Partnership, added: “The return of the Pictish stone fragments to Forteviot Church in their new display is fantastic to see and it’s been a great project to help deliver. “The community of Forteviot and surrounding area are really proud of their ancient roots and it’s been a pleasure to work with them in securing the stones for years to come.“ Also part of the display is the Forteviot Handbell, a rare surviving cast bronze handbell, typical of the Irish and Pictish churches of the 9th and 10th centuries. Important for time-keeping their sound was thought to ward off evil.

Dundee

Tayside projects shortlisted for Arts and Business Scotland annual awards

December 2 2016

A number of organisations with links to Tayside have been nominated for awards celebrating collaboration between businesses and arts initiatives. Arts and Business Scotland has this week announced the shortlist for its 30th annual awards, which includes the Dundee Royal Arch project and DC Thomson for their support of UNESCO City of Design's Dundee Design Festival. BAM Construction is nominated for its support of creative producer Claire Dow and the Dundee Institute of Architects' People's Tower. Elsewhere, Perth Museum and Art Gallery is nominated for its collaboration with Player: Videogame Interaction from Atari to Toys to Life and the Black Watch Castle and Museum for its support of Poppies: Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper. Friends of the Caird Hall Organ’s James McKellican has also been nominated in the fundraising category. A&BS chief executive David Watt said: “This year’s shortlist is a fantastic reflection of the innovation and creativity which exists between the cultural and business sectors, contributing to a thriving and vibrant cultural offering here in Scotland. “Throughout the judging process what was abundantly clear was the value that cultural organisations bring to both rural and urban communities though their social and economic impacts. “It is hugely encouraging therefore to see such a diverse range of businesses demonstrating a willingness to support this activity in Scotland.” A&BS says this year’s shortlist is one of the most diverse in recent years with a strong emphasis on cultural organisations delivering projects that enable social and economic benefits for rural and urban communities. The awards party will take place at Glasgow Royal Concert Halls on March 23 and will include an address from the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop.

Rocktalk

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.

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