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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...


Delving into Dundee’s archives

March 11 2017

Art and design lie at the heart of the creative industries in Dundee, industries which have often been inspired by the leisure pursuits and interests of Dundee’s population. These interconnections are clearly shown in the Archives of the University of Dundee; art and design is woven through many of the collections. This article features a few items which highlight the diversity of design related material held in the Archives. Dundee Art Society started out as the Graphic Arts Association in 1890, changing its name in 1904.  From the outset the group welcomed both professional and amateur artists as well as art patrons and lovers. As the Art College in Dundee grew, many of the staff joined the Society and used its platform to exhibit their art and network with other artists. The striking design for the cover of the centennial exhibition catalogue produced in 1990 echoes to the artistic trends of the early twentieth century. The longevity of the society reflects the continuing desire of artists within the community to join together, curate exhibitions and share their passion for art. Many of these artists had connections with the Dundee Institute of Art and Technology which was dissolved in 1975 to create Dundee College of Technology and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. The Art College remained independent until 1994 when it became a full part of the University of Dundee. All of these bodies are represented in the exhibition material, posters, photographs and student guides in the Archives.  Furthermore, alumnus of the College have contributed to our on-going Oral History Project. Former textile students, Pauline Hann and Sheila Mortlock, were interviewed to capture the personal stories of their time at the College, their career paths and interests. Hann and Mortlock were founding members of Embryo – Dundee Creative Embroiderers, formed in 1980, which developed from the frustration felt by numerous students at the lack of opportunities to exhibit contemporary embroidery within Scotland. The remit of the group was to promote the highest standards of workmanship, achieving this by restricting membership to graduates and undergraduates of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. Embryo actively promoted their work through various exhibitions not only in Scotland but across the UK, eventually joining forces with two other textile groups to form Edge – Textile Artists Scotland. Edge is still going strong and attracting new members from a broader background albeit with a recognised education in textiles. The Archive’s Embryo collection includes exhibition publicity material, photographs and correspondence. Textile samples can be found in other collections, such as The Wilson Bros Ltd collection who were taken over by Pringle of Inverness. The pattern books of the woollen and cloth products they manufactured from 1927 to 1967 are fascinating. They show the changing trends in pattern and colour combinations and how design comes in and out of fashion over the decades. Other samples in the Archives show how design blended with the mass production of durable textiles as seen in the printed designs on linen which form part of the D. J. MacDonald collection. Using only two colours, the rising sun motif for the MacDonald company is bold and graphic whereas the design for Louise, seller of lingerie and hosiery has a more delicate touch with the female form and the name of the brand printed in signature style picked out in red. Jute and linen bags adorned with colourful printed designs are still popular today. Textile design in the city is thriving. Local fashion designer, Hayley Scanlan, studied textile design at DJCAD. Her oral history recording in the Archives tells of her desire to remain rooted in the city despite her burgeoning international career. Proud of her Dundonian heritage, Hayley’s designs are influenced by the changing city and she will soon open her first shop a stones throw from DJCAD where her talents were honed. Records held in the Archive are accessible to everyone. For further information about the Archives and its collections see www.dundee.ac.uk/archives   Sharon Kelly is assistant archivist at Dundee University's Archives Services 

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.

Readers' letters

July 4: Howff gravestone appeal fell on deaf ears

July 4 2011

Today's letters to The Courier. Howff gravestone appeal fell on deaf earsSir,-One could almost feel the pride throughout J.J. Marshall's column about Morgan Academy, Dundee. What a pity he, and all the other former pupils, are not prepared to do something about the Morgan gravestone in the Howff. Some nine years ago The Nine Trades found it in a disgraceful state. They spent a great deal of money having new pillars cut and the stone repaired and replaced. The stone, however, needs the inscription re-cut. We obtained a quote of some £1300 for the work and committed the sum of £300 to start things off. Despite repeated pleas, often in your paper, for money to make up the balance, we have only had one response, a cheque from one grateful past pupil for £40. So much for the great pride Morgan pupils have in their old school. Work that out at a cost per proud pupil and it is less than a loaf of bread. Some pride. Innes A. Duffus.Dundee.Law Society stayed quietSir,-It must be really demoralising for law students, especially graduates trying to complete their articles and many still seeking employment, to see their profession being further denigrated. I would have thought that, even with its blemishes, the Scottish Law Society would be more than capable of dealing with any criminal case or human rights issue without any outside intervention. Whether politics were involved or not, I remember in 2009 the lord chancellor was one of the main instigators of the Supreme Court. At that time only three High Court judges from Scotland were appointed. With an issue proving so important to our nation, was there even a murmur at any level from the Scottish Law Society? In a constantly changing world perhaps now is the time for a re-appraisal of the Law Society and its role. James M. Fraser.39 High Street,Leven.Pension grumbles overstatedSir,-This morning's editorial (June 29) was spot on when it claimed the public-sector pension issue should have been addressed by the Labour government in 2005 when they memorably funked it. Increased longevity makes impossible continuance of an unreformed system. A 3% increase in contributions and a retirement age of 66 is not the end of the world. The professions tend to overestimate the income they will need in retirement and my kirk pension of £12,000 after 35 years, plus my state pension, has proved fine. My medical brothers received over four times that amount and retirement at 60 but I found the closing years before retirement at just past 65 the most rewarding of my entire career. As long as the poorer-paid public sector workers are protected, I think the better-off professionals with school fees and mortgages long past should keep a grip on reality. (Dr) John Cameron.10 Howard Place,St Andrews. Not the saviours they pretendSir,-The SNP's Alex Orr (June 27) is right to highlight Scotland's marginally better public spending deficit as compared to the UK generally, but at least the Westminster government has acknowledged the need to get it under control. However, the SNP wants to see a Scotland with fiscal policies like slashed corporation tax, significantly reduced fuel duty and tax breaks for favoured sectors such as computer games. The SNP is clearly reluctant to raise income tax or council taxes, or to impose a windfall tax on oil companies. But it makes lavish spending commitments. It surely ill behoves the Nationalists to favourably compare Scotland's deficit to that of the UK. No wonder the SNP is so keen for Scotland to have borrowing powers. Mr Orr highlights the role of oil revenues in an independent Scotland. But this merely underlines yet another future drain on Scotland's public purse, namely the subsidy-hungry renewables industry. There would also be a stealth tax in the form of rocketing energy bills. The SNP's attempts to depict themselves as the planet's environmental saviours, while at the same time portraying oil as the key to Scotland's future, shows that the party wants to have its renewables cake and eat it. Stuart Winton.Hilltown,Dundee. Fairtrade status undermined Sir,-I note with interest your article (June 28) about Scotland being on course to become the world's second Fair Trade nation. Having been on the original working group which helped set up the Scottish Fair Trade Forum back in 2006, I think it would be wonderful to see this goal being achieved. Dundee became a Fairtrade City in March 2004, the first in Scotland, but this status needs to be renewed. That is currently under threat because, unlike other local authorities, Dundee City Council does not automatically provide Fairtrade catering for meetings. It would be a great shame if Scotland's Fair Trade nation accolade were denied because its first Fairtrade city lost its status. Sally Romilly.4 Westwood Terrace,Newport-on-Tay. Leuchars still at riskSir,-The fact that the MoD has spent millions on RAF Leuchars is no guarantee of saviour. Remember that a new hangar complex was built for rescue helicopters of 22 Squadron, only for the RAF to disband the flight. Stephen Pickering.19 Abbey Court,St Andrews.

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

“Excellent” series raised many questions

January 29 2013

Sir, I would like to express my thanks for the excellent series last week on attitudes towards sex within the city of Dundee. It was balanced, informative, thought-provoking journalism at its best. It raised many questions, not least how are we to deal with the whole subject of prostitution and abuse. I was saddened at the logic of Margo MacDonald who suggested that because prostitution had always been around we should legalise it. One could just as easily argue because child abuse has always been around one should legalise it! Surely your articles indicate that the recreational view of sex exemplified in so much of our media and a view which is not challenged in our education system, is responsible for much of the problem. A return to a Christian view of sex as sacred, rather than sex as animal appetite, would seem to be a good place to start dealing with the root cause of the problem. David Robertson. St Peter’s Free Church, 4 St Peter Street, Dundee. Tunnel vision over turbines SirI despair at the wanton destruction of scarce upland moors by wind farm developers and land owners who can see no further than their tunnel vision view of making money from being lucky enough to own land at the right time and in the right place. How can anyone hold themselves up as being the custodians of the land when they are destroying the nesting grounds of countless birds as well as putting in place the blades to chop them down on a foggy day or dark night? I also despair at Mr Salmond’s blethers. “We won’t build wind farms that will impact on the landscape.” Where about in Scotland might that be, then? “Scotland will sell wind energy.” Who is going to buy expensive wind energy if cheaper nuclear is available! But if so, wouldn’t it be wise to get signed contracts before the wind farms are built? “Wind power will provide the current to extract hydrogen from water to fuel vehicles.” Scientists have been trying for years to make hydrogen extraction economically viable. Would it not be wiser to solve this problem before building the turbines? George Donaldson. Padanaram. Keep it plain and simple Sir, I would respectfully request that our illustrious councils, when appointing public staff whose wages are paid for by the tax payers of that ilk, give a thought to the job titles. I refer to the names of posts within the council such as the appointment of a “strategic director of people”, which I assumed to be a “ lollipop” lady, outside a school gate, or would this be a strategic director of children? Are councils so obsessed with pretentiousness and status, or is it just an excuse to raise wages? Can the title not just be an obvious description of the job and responsibilities? Councils should be an example of good, plain English. Alan Bell. Roods, Kirriemuir. Rural theatres under threat? Sir, Creative Scotland, the toxic quango Alex Salmond set up to take over the functions of the much-loved Scottish Arts Council has just claimed its latest victim: St Andrews’ Byre Theatre. Chairman Sandy Crombie oversaw some catastrophic days at Standard Life so the fall-out of its perverse funding cuts will not ruffle his immaculately coiffed locks. Pitlochry Festival Theatre is also known to be in dire straits and struggling financially after the quango without warning slashed a third of a million off its core funding. Creative Scotland appears to be set on a course that will see the closure of most rural theatres leaving the only cultural outlets clustered in cities like Edinburgh. This appears to be part of the First Minister’s master plan for independence which has turned Scotland into Europe’s most highly centralised and least democratic nation. Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews. Delighted with dancing item Sir, It was good to see The Courier’s item about the city’s country dance festival (held on the 25th), and to see the photograph of the children enjoying themselves! The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society is committed to encouraging dancing for all ages. If any of the teachers involved would like to bring some of their pupils to take part in the David Findlay Rosebowl Competition (held annually in memory of the leader of the Olympians Scottish Country Dance Band), which takes place this Saturday (February 2), in Newport Parish Church Hall, I would be happy to accept a late entry! Teams may perform any dance they know and enjoy and we have sections for children 9 and under, 10-12 years old, and an Open section. All those taking part receive a badge and certificate from Dundee Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. Anyone interested can contact me at 01382 541 412, or by email at h.lawrenson@tiscali.co.uk Helen Lawrenson. Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Dundee. Now that’s service! Sir, I contacted Dundee City Council lighting department via their website the other night about a street lamp out on King Street, Broughty Ferry, at the bottom of our lane. The following night it was fixed. Bob Servant couldn’t have done better! Great service. Thanks. Dave Rennie. 423 King Street. Broughty Ferry.


Fife artists honoured by Society of Painters in Watercolour

February 12 2011

Four artists from Tayside and Fife have won awards at the 131st annual exhibition of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW) at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. Jim Dunbar from Carnoustie has won the £1000 RSW Council Award for the painting Consecration Stone, St Vigeans, which also appears on the cover of the exhibition catalogue and poster. Jim, who trained at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, taught in schools for 20 years before painting full-time, and in 2006 won the RSA Scottish Arts Club Award. Talking about the winning painting, he said, "I've known this stone since 1973 when it was in the garden of our house, Kirkstile Cottage, in the village of St Vigeans, near Arbroath. "The house was originally the village school and the stone was said to have been consecrated to mark the opening of the school in the late 18th-century. "I have always been interested in its history and fascinated by its decoration." Dunfermline artist Stephen Ratomski won the £500 John Gray Award. He graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 1971 and has exhibited widely throughout Scotland in solo and group shows.Polish artIn 2005, he founded the Fife Polish Arts Group and is currently chairman of Fife Dunfermline Printmakers Workshop. Derek Robertson, who lives in Balmerino, won the Glasgow Art Club Fellowship and will receive a two year membership of the club. He trained at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design and has been a professional artist for 21 years. He exhibits work in galleries around the world, with his paintings held in private collections in more than 40 countries as well as numerous public collections including the Scotland Office in London. George Gilbert, who lives in Crail, won the Scottish Arts Club Award and will receive a two year membership of the club and a solo exhibition. A graduate of Glasgow School of Art, George lives and works in the East Neuk where he paints the harbours and landscapes of the area. He has held many solo exhibitions since 1967 and exhibited widely throughout the UK and USA, including the Cleveland International Drawing Biennale, The Sunday Times Watercolour competition and the Royal Watercolour Society Summer Open. He won the Sir William Gillies Award in 1997 and the RSW Council Award in 2007. The exhibition, which is open until March 3, features more than 180 new paintings by 130 established and emerging artists from across Scotland, including Stephanie Dees, Simon Laurie, Marian Leven, Ian McKenzie Smith, Philip Reeves as well as invited works from the Royal Watercolour Society and the Australian Watercolour Institute. Photo used under Creative Commons licence courtesy of Flickr user Magic Madzik.


Dundee University leads tributes to Professor Charles McKean

September 30 2013

Dundee University has led tributes to Professor Charles McKean, who has died aged 67. The vice-principal, Professor Christopher Whatley, described him as “a dear colleague and friend and will be sadly missed by all”. The university said Professor McKean was “the foremost authority on Scottish architectural history”, with a distinguished career which also included being architecture correspondent for The Times newspaper and Chair of UNESCO Edinburgh World Heritage Trust. He was appointed head of the school of architecture at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in 1995, before taking up his position as professor of Scottish architectural history in 1997.Suggested link:Professor Charles McKean a personal recollectionA university spokesman said: “He was a passionate advocate of preserving Dundee’s architectural history and led hundreds of walking tours of the city over the past two decades. He was awarded an Honorary Stephen Fry Award by the University in 2012 for his lifetime achievements in engaging the public with his research in Scottish architectural history.” Professor Whatley added: “Charles McKean was a major voice in Scottish architecture and history and someone who made a tremendous impact in everything he did. “Charles played a critical role in establishing history at Dundee as a leading UK centre in the discipline. Our thoughts are with his family.” Dundee city archivist Iain Flett said: “The passing of Professor Charles McKean leaves Dundee a poorer place. He educated Scotland and the world about the importance of Dundee well before it earned the Victorian title of Juteopolis. “Often to be seen in the streets, cellars and closes of the city being followed by a crocodile of fascinated onlookers, he would open eyes to the mediaeval burgh and harbour that still can be traced today.” Professor McKean edited the London Architect from 1970-75, before becoming architecture correspondent for The Times from 1977 to 1983. He held fellowships of the Royal Society of Arts, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Historical Society, and was an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute ofBritish Architects, the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and the Royal ScottishGeographical Society. From 2003 to 2009 he was a member of theScottish committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, one of many prominent committee positions he occupied. In 2005 hewas appointed honorary president of the St Andrews Preservation Trust. Educated at FettesCollege, Edinburgh, and Bristol University, he was married with two sons.

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Gallery ‘delighted’ watercolour display is returning to Forfar

August 5 2015

A major watercolour painting exhibition is coming to Angus next year, it has been announced. The Meffan Museum and Art Gallery in Forfar will host an exhibition by the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW) in May. It last came to the gallery in 2012. The relationship between the RSW and Meffan began in 2009 when the gallery showcased its annual open exhibition, usually held in the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. Angus Council’s galleries curator Jim Boon said: “We are delighted that the RSW has decided to return to Forfar. “Our relationship with them goes from strength to strength and it is an indication of the esteem in which the gallery is held that they trust us with an exhibition of such national importance. “The exhibition is open for anyone to submit work, so I expect Angus to be well represented in the final selection”. The RSW was founded in 1876, with the support of the Royal Scottish Academy, by artists to promote the medium of watercolour through exhibitions, and to encourage the bold, free and colourful qualities of Scottish painting. The society received permission from Queen Victoria to use the royal prefix in 1886 and many renowned artists have been members, including Sam Bough, David McClure, Adam Bruce Thomson, Claire Harrigan, and George Paul Chalmers. Details on how to submit work for the exhibition will be announced later in the year, with updates posted on the RSW website and gallery’s Facebook page.