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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

Angus & The Mearns

Gingerbread tribute to the Wee Red Town

October 14 2013

When Libby Jones was invited by Bank Street Gallery owner Susie Clark to exhibit at her gallery in Kirriemuir, she became intrigued by the history of the town. As well as Kirriemuir’s most famous son and Peter Pan author JM Barrie, she discovered the town had also been home for a time to AC/DC singer Bon Scott, Victorian mountaineer Hugh Munro, and 19th century writer Violet Jacob. She found the town had been a hotbed of witchcraft in the 16th century and is also world famous for its gingerbread and decided to combine all these elements. Ms Jones went on to craft a boxed set of prints, which also doubles as a card game. She said: “This tongue-in-cheek edition of 10 boxes, of 20 cards per box, features Kirriemuir characters presented on a slice of gingerbread on a plate. I have also made a poster featuring all the 10 characters in the game.” Visitors can see images of Edinburgh Castle with fireworks, wildlife such as gannets, and artwork made after a visit to Antarctica. Londoner and master printmaker Ms Jones exhibited work from her sub-zero stay at a Discovery Point exhibition in Dundee last year. Children can see her work Cooking the Climate, a comment on global warming, which consists of a microwave oven and slideshow with rotating polar animals. There is also a fossilised mobile phone in a second installation, Fossils of the Anthropocene an exploration of the traces that might remain of civilisation in 50 million years’ time. She is also exhibiting a selection of her woodcuts, linocuts, collagraphs and screenprints at the gallery. The exhibition runs until November 8 and opening hours can be found on www.bankstreetgallery.org, or by telephoning 01575 570070.

Angus & The Mearns

Fears scientific interest site at St Cyrus has been damaged by Travellers’ camp work

February 6 2014

A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) has been damaged following work at an illegal Travellers’ site on the Mearns/Angus border, a report has claimed. Spoil and earth discarded from the development of a permanent caravan park near St Cyrus Nature Reserve has been dumped inside an SSSI adjacent to the site, according to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). Marina Taylor, operations officer for SNH Tayside and Grampian, made the claim in the organisation’s response to a second retrospective planning application for work at the development. The revelations come as court proceedings regarding an alleged breach of interim interdict placed on the site and linked to the first application for the permanent stances are set to continue at Stonehaven Sheriff Court. Ms Taylor said: “Spoil and earth excavated as part of the associated development of the caravan park have been discarded inside the SSSI boundary, covering areas of botanical importance.” SNH did not object in its response to the initial application for the park, submitted by James McCaullm after work started last year. However, in its reply to the second application for toilet facilities and a pump station, submitted by William Docherty, the organisation advises action must be taken by the council to avoid “further damage or deterioration to the SSSI”. Ms Taylor wrote: “The basis for our appraisal of the potential impacts of this proposal is our understanding that no development will occur within the SSSI boundary. “We understand that from Aberdeenshire Council the development will be confined to the footprint shown on the plan and that this will not encroach into the SSSI boundary. “In our view, however, the plans as submitted are not sufficiently detailed to allow a conclusive judgment regarding whether or not the boundary of the proposed development area encroaches upon the adjacent SSSI. “In addition to the damage to the botanical interest of the site, the presence of the spoil bund between the proposed development site and the SSSI could lead to misinterpretation of the site boundary as designated on the ground resulting in further damage to the site should works at the site be allowed to continue.” The response advises that if Aberdeenshire Council approves the plans, the applicant should be required to meet with SNH officers and agree several caveats before continuing work. These include agreement of the development boundary to that of the SSSI, restoration of the original boundary prior to any further work, agreement and implementation of a restoration plan for habitats affected by the dumping of the spoil within the SSSI, including removal of the spoil or its retention and management as neutral grassland. The case between Aberdeenshire Council and James McCallum is on the list of hearings, but it is understood Mr McCallum will not be required to appear as it is a procedural hearing.

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

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.

News

Stirling hit by tree disease

July 26 2013

The first case of a deadly tree disease to be found in a protected area of Scotland has been discovered in Stirling. Ash dieback, which causes woodland to gradually wither and die, was identified in saplings at Balquhidderock Wood. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) confirmed the discovery at the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Two samples were identified as having the fungus chalara, following lab tests by Forest Research at the Northern Research Station in Roslin. No mature trees have yet been affected at privately-owned Balquhidderock Wood, which is managed by Stirling Council. The disease is spread via airborne spores and measures are being put in place to prevent the disease reaching nearby Perthshire and Clackmannanshire. Susan Davies, SNH’s director of policy and advice, said: “This is the first known case of infection in a nature protected area in Scotland. Whilst not unexpected, it is disappointing. “We are working closely with Forestry Commission Scotland and others, including Stirling Council, to establish the scale of the infection and to implement the action required. Action is likely to involve the removal of smaller infected saplings, but mature trees will be left unless they pose an imminent safety risk.” It is thought older trees may yet be found to have resistance to the disease, which was first recorded in Poland in 1992. Ash dieback has since spread across the continent, first found in England in spring 2012, and in Scotland in August 2012. Although it was originally discovered in nurseries and on planted stock, it seems likely also to have reached the eastern UK as spore plumes from the continent. The UK Government has drawn up an interim disease control plan and has imposed a ban on imports and movements of ash plants and seeds to try to slow the spread.

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.

Angus & The Mearns

VIDEO: Watch as complex operation to probe death of and bury Tay sperm whale gets under way

March 24 2018

A huge, complicated operation to carry out a post-mortem on and bury a 45ft sperm whale which washed up on the banks of the River Tay got under way yesterday. Sea life experts, animal rescue teams and contractors arrived on the beach of the Barry Buddon firing range at 10am on Friday morning - just two days after the massive mammal washed up dead on the shore. Facing a race against time before high tide, samples were taken and a post-mortem was started on the whale by Dr Andrew Brownlow, head of the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS). Contractors from Cupar-based FTM Plant Hire had brought diggers armed with swing-shovels to the beach to roll the sea creature from its location on a rocky section of the shore to the sands further inland. The firm was expected to move the animal during low tide last night and to proceed with burying it this morning. Workers had attempted to roll the animal inshore on Friday afternoon but only managed to move it about 66ft before deciding that a bigger machine was required for the task. The operation was given the go-ahead following consultation between Angus Council and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa). The beach at Barry Buddon is both a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and an EU Special Area of Conservation (SAC). Dr Brownlow said the samples gathered during yesterday's examination of the whale would help them determine the cause of the its death, adding that disposing of the whale at the Angus beach is a “very difficult” task. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/angus-mearns/624142/video-how-did-45ft-sperm-whale-which-washed-up-near-monifieth-die/ He was helped by a number of students from St Andrews' Sea Mammal Research Unit and fellow marine rescuers. The post-mortem will be concluded today, should the whale be successfully shifted. Dr Brownlow said there doesn't appear to be evidence of "human interaction" in the mammal's death and added that some of the wounds could have been sustained during a fight with another male. He added: "It probably weighs in excess of 35 tonnes. And doing a post-mortem on it is going to be quite a challenge, there is no two ways about it. "We try to work out what happened, why is it this animal has come here. "We have not managed to finish it (the post-mortem) today. These whales are incredibly difficult to shift. "We know quite a lot already. It doesn't seem to have any evidence of any direct human interaction. So there is no evidence of an entanglement, there is no evidence that it has been some ship strike. "Interestingly if you look at the head end of it there are some bits that do look like its been fighting with other males - what I think looked like teeth marks on its rostral. "So we're kind of piecing this all together to try and learn what happened." He added that the whale may have taken a wrong turn on its way from feeding around Norway, Orkney and Shetland to equatorial waters, but ended up in the North Sea - an environment which is difficult for the species to navigate. A Sepa spokesman said: "Given the location of the whale and the area’s various environmental designations, such as a special area of conservation (SAC), Sepa has advised the local authority that a number of partner organisations should be consulted, including the Scottish Natural Heritage and Ministry of Defence, prior to a final decision on disposal. "While the whale does not pose any immediate risk to the environment, Sepa officers will continue to monitor the situation and work with the local authority to find a suitable disposal option." Angus Council said arrangements had been made for the safe disposal of the carcass.

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