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Pipe banner marks historic links between The Black Watch and the MacLeods

August 13 2011

A partnership spanning more than two centuries has been celebrated at a ceremony at Balhousie Castle in Perth. The Clan MacLeod Society of Scotland presented a new pipe banner to The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland in memory of their late chieftain. Commander of the regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Ed Fenton, and Pipe Major Richard Grisedale were given the gift by society president Ruari Halford-MacLeod on behalf of Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod, the 30th Chief. Mr Halford-MacLeod served with 6th and 7th Battalion The Black watch during his time as a student at St Andrews University, so he also has strong ties. It will be used by a piper of The Black Watch when the pipe band is on parade and, when not in use, it will hang in the officers' mess at Fort George, near Inverness, where the regiment is stationed while it is in Scotland. The banner was given to mark its association with the clan, as John MacLeod, Younger of MacLeod served in Ireland in the 1750s. Around 30 years later, his son, Major General Norman MacLeod of MacLeod, also raised the 2nd Battalion The Black Watch, The Royal Highland Regiment during the American Revolutionary War. These original colours are still held at Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, which has been the home of the clan chiefs for over 800 years. Photo Phil Hannah.


51st Highland Division’s role in liberating France

January 16 2011

Those who attended the latest in the winter lecture series at The Black Watch Museum were regaled with the tale of the 51st Highland Division's 'Battle for France'. A group synonymous with Perth, the 51st featured many local Black Watch troops and was used to slow the advance of German troops as the British Expeditionary Force made its escape at Dunkirk in 1940. Following a 10-day battle they were rounded up and captured at the Normandy fishing village of St Valery en Caux and placed in prisoner of war camps in Germany and Poland. The reformed division, however, returned to France four years later to play a key role in its liberation. The lecture, by Ruari Halford-MacLeod, referred specifically to the reminiscences of wireless operator George Arnott of Crieff and Tom Renouf from Musselburgh. Later lectures will focus on the Indian Mutiny on February 9 and The Black Watch in Korea on March 9.

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...


Talk on Perthshire soldiers’ stand at St Valery en Caux

January 7 2011

The sacrifices made by legendary Scottish troops during one of the most desperate periods of the second world war will be recounted in the next of a series of winter lectures, to take place next week. The 51st Highland Division's Battle for France was one of the defining moments in the war and in Perth culture because of the number of locals who took part. The 51st was left behind in France to cover the escape of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk in 1940. Their role was to slow the German advance westwards and demonstrate to conquered France that Britain would not abandon its ally. A ferocious 10-day battle ensued at the Normandy fishing village of St Valery en Caux with overwhelmingly superior German forces led by Rommel. Eventually pinned against the sea with poor weather ending any hope of escape and German artillery firing on them from two sides, the troops, including members of The Black Watch from Tayside, Gordon Highlanders and Seaforths, were forced to surrender on June 12. Around 600 British troops died and the captured troops were forced to march to prisoner of war camps in Germany and Poland. Far from decimating the 51st, the division was reformed and went on to play a major role in a key turning point in the war, El Alamein, the invasion of Sicily and the D-Day landings. The Museum Of The Black Watch will host a lecture by Ruari Halford-MacLeod, in its winter series on Wednesday at 1.30pm, referring mainly to the memories of wireless operator George Arnott of Crieff and Tom Renouf of Musselburgh. There is a lecture on the Indian Mutiny on February 9 and The Black Watch in Korea on March 9.

Gadgets & Games

Remembering Scotland At War website preserves vital stories

June 26 2010

The Black Watch plays a central role in Scotland's pioneering new online museum, Remembering Scotland At War. The site, launched on Thursday at Edinburgh Castle, is envisaged as a way of "capturing memories" and encourages personal accounts of how conflict has affected the nation's people. It includes the recollections of civilians, veterans young and old, and those currently in service, including an extensive archive of those who have served with The Black Watch, which has its spiritual home in Perthshire. The online museum, which can be found at www.RememberingScotlandAtWar.org.uk, is the culmination of a three-year project led by Museums Galleries Scotland and supported by the Big Lottery Fund. At its launch it features over 200 exhibitions, interviews, photographs and footage dating from the second world war to more recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the free museum is designed to be constantly evolving and fully interactive, and it is hoped that additional personal stories will be added over time. There are accounts of individuals, families, communities and even the impact of conflict on the landscape. In addition to the online museum's exhibitions, there is an interactive social media area where memories can be exchanged, and anyone can create a profile to upload their own reminiscences, photographs and videos, discuss exhibitions and make comments. Launching the resource on Thursday, Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop said, "In Remembering Scotland At War, Museums Galleries Scotland has created an important resource that spans generations. "I am sure the museum will be inspirational to younger people, fostering a greater understanding of the impact of war."Thought-provokingMuseums Galleries Scotland worked with 13 museums and galleries across Scotland to create the thought-provoking exhibitions. These included the Regimental Museum of The Black Watch at Balhousie Castle in Perth, the Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum at Lyness, and West Dunbartonshire Council and Highland Council's museums' services. Part of creating these stories involved working closely with schools, youth and community groups to gather emotive reminiscences, together with bringing older and younger generations together to learn from each other. The exhibitions feature hundreds of moving accounts of things such as being taken by the Germans in the second world war, being a child buried in rubble during the Clydebank blitz, and training for deployment to Afghanistan. Another, entitled This Happens In War, saw The Black Watch Museum working with the YMCA in Perth to gather and record memories from members of the 51st Highland Division, the Wrens and national servicemen. It has also worked with Atholl Country Life Museum and the St Andrews Preservation Trust to find stories, photographs and artefacts from the war on the home front. The Black Watch contribution covers conflicts from the second world war to the Korean war and the Kenyan insurgency. Featuring a number of topics from the war at home, conscription and national service to war zones in north Africa, France, Germany and, more recently, Korea and Kenya, these are brought to life through the stories and memories of veterans from Fife and Tayside. Ruari Halford-MacLeod, who led The Black Watch Museum's contribution, said, "It's been a hugely beneficial experience for all involved, and we've created a remarkable resource for the future." Remembering Scotland At War features a dedicated learning resources centre where pupils, teachers and parents can download school-based activities. It will also be available to pupils and teachers through Learning and Teaching Scotland's new Scottish schools' intranet, Glow, giving more access to images. The Black Watch Museum's touring exhibition This Happens In War will be at the Atholl Country Life Museum until September 30.

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

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

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.

Business news

Halfords reports revenues rise

January 17 2013

Car maintenance and bike company Halfords has upgraded its profit guidance after revenues crawled upwards thanks to a strong showing in post-Christmas sales. The group revealed its like-for-like income climbed by a single percentage point during the 15 weeks to January 11, thanks primarily to a strong showing from its autocentres and wefit car maintenance offering. While Halfords highlighted a considerable improvement against the same period last year, during which time revenues fell by 2.7%, figures released to the markets also revealed much of the upturn came after Christmas. It had suffered a like-for-like revenue dip of 0.5% during the 13 weeks to December 28, showing the majority of its gains came during the following fortnight when price reductions were at their peak. Halfords stressed that figures up to and including the first full week of January would “more accurately reflect the true retail trading performance of the group over the festive season” and committed to report on a similar basis in the future. Overall, and including new store openings, group revenues accelerated by 1.6% during the period, with the motor business zipping ahead thanks to a 12% increase while retail idled at 0.1% growth. Halfords said management continued to invest in its motor repair business, while parts sales rose 13.2% and fitting penetration had climbed to a new record of 39.5%. A record 10.9% of revenues came from online sales. Chief executive Matt Davies said he was pleased with growth from service-led retail, which the board had prioritised for increased investment. “Autocentres revenue continues to grow as we focused investment on the new-centre opening programme, capacity for future growth and motorists’ awareness of the brand,” he said. Like-for-like figures in cycling showed a 1.6% decline in turnover from the same 15-week period last year. The year-to-date increase from cycling income was marginal at 0.7% as a result. Mr Davies conceded cycling had “initially disappointed” before Christmas, but added he was pleased with the continuing momentum in high-end, specialist wheels. “We aim to improve significantly the Halfords customer experience and develop category opportunities where our brand is under-represented in areas such as cycling parts, accessories and clothing; we are on track to deliver this expanded offer in the next financial year,” he said. Pre-tax profits for the year are expected to reach about £70 million, which Halfords described as a “modest” increase on expectations. business@thecourier.co.uk

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