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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

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.

Couple renew legal fight to keep pet dog in their luxury penthouse

January 25 2018

A couple who want to keep their “lovely” pet dog in their penthouse apartment have taken their fight to the High Court.Gabby and Florian Kuehn were banned from keeping Vinnie, their Maltese Yorkshire terrier cross, at their flat in Limehouse, east London after they moved there in 2015.The Victory Place management company, which represents residents in the gated 146-flat complex, said there was a no-pets policy as part of the lease, except in special circumstances.Despite the couple arguing there was a “therapeutic benefit” gained from living with Vinnie, the company’s board of directors refused to let him live on the premises.The couple challenged that decision at the Mayor’s & City of London Court, but lost their case in February last year.Judge Donald Cryan ruled the couple’s case “comes down to ‘I love my dog'”, but said that did not mean they should be given permission for him to live in the flat.Mrs Kuehn, 46, a recruitment consultant, and her 43-year-old banker husband appealed against that ruling at the High Court in London on Thursday.Their lawyers argued the board had “pre-determined” their decision to refuse the couple permission to keep Vinnie and the decision-making process was therefore unfair.David Phillips QC, for the Kuehns, said it was clear the board had discussed the matter and made up their minds before meeting with the couple.But Christopher Heather QC, for the management company, said the board was entitled to take account of a vote by 75 residents in support of the policy on pets – with only the Kuehns voting against.He also said the couple had been asked to produce some medical evidence to support their claim about their pet’s therapeutic benefit, but they had not.Sir Geoffrey Vos, hearing the case, said there were “strong views on both sides” and he was “surprised” Vinnie was not in court.He added: “It is a very simple case.“I know it’s about a lovely dog called Vinnie and that can be taken into account.”The judge reserved his ruling on the case until a later date.

Business news

Binn Group seals deal to secure Perth expansion

April 1 2016

Long-standing Perth skip hire and waste management firm Holden Environmental has been sold to industry rival Binn Group. Holden’s new Glenfarg-based owners will continue to operate the firm’s Shore Road yard in Perth and all 10 of the employees based at the site have retained their jobs. Holden has been operating from the site for more than 70 years, originally as a scrap business before it increased its offering to include skip hire, waste management and recycling services. Holden’s activities have strong synergies with Binn’s own operations. The group has grown into one of Scotland’s most high-profile recycling and resource management companies since being founded by father-and-son team John and Allan MacGregor more than 20 years ago as a land diversification project at Binn Farm. The business now employs a workforce of more than 100 staff and is keen to secure further growth. Chief executive Allan MacGregor said the Holden deal represented an exciting phase in Binn’s long-term growth plans and met its aspiration to have a secondary site in the Fair City. “Binn Group has a long-term plan to expand into urban satellite sites in key locations throughout Scotland,” said Mr MacGregor. “Buying over Holden’s well-established business within Perth fulfils the first phase of that ambition.” Holden Environmental managing director Robert Holden said he was pleased that Shore Road would continue to play a waste management function. “After careful consideration it was determined that the long-term success of the business was best secured by selling to the Binn Group, who have undertaken to continue the first-class service our loyal customers have come to expect over the years,” Mr Holden said. “We have worked closely with Binn’s senior management team to ensure a smooth handover of operations for our employees, customers and suppliers. “We wish them well in their new venture.” Holden’s Shore Road site is well known in Perth as a section of it was the subject of an ultimately doomed plan by Grundon Waste Management to build a £100 million waste to energy incinerator plan. The proposed scheme caused huge controversy but was dropped in 2013 after Grundon failed to lodge an appeal against a planning refusal for the site.

Cliftons Amaretto proves star of Strathmore Show

August 12 2015

Strathmore Show, run under the auspices of Strathmore and District Riding Club as a previously biennial competition, returned to the local event calendar for this year with a bang. Topping the final line-up of 16 champions and reserves the eventual supreme of show adjudicated by Cath Brewster, of Lanark House, Kirriemuir was Cliftons Amaretto, owned and ridden by Marissa Stephen. The mother of two travelled south to the show at Brechin Castle from Aberdeen, where she works as a company director for Effectus UK. “We originally bought Amaretto for my daughter, who was 11 and coming off ponies at the time,” said Marissa. “She proved to be something of a diva, so I started schooling her but if you ask Robyn, she’ll tell you I stole her ride.” They bought the now 10-year-old mare by Accondy, which was home-bred by Alex Brewster out of Cliftons Arizona, three years ago from Drumcarrow. However, a field injury saw the partnership lose much of last season together. Marissa added: “She came back into work this January, competing successfully at dressage. “Her first show outing was to one of the Puddledub winter shows in March.” On that occasion, they topped their ridden horse class before standing champion and scooping the supreme. They planned to head next to New Deer, with Turriff, Blair and the Caledonian Championships also in mind. The reserve supreme of show was won by seven-year-old Dun gelding Woodytwoshoes, owned and ridden by Courier reporter Philippa Merry. Sired by the registered Connemara stallion Brian Boru and bred by Sean Kelly, of Ballynahia, County Mongahan, out of Ballynahia Lass, Woody lifted both the working hunter championship title and reserve from the ridden hunter ring en-route to the overall competition. Only shown a handful of times since being purchased in 2012, due to work commitments, this young horse previously stood reserve hunter champion at the Brechin Autumn Show and first at Fife Show last season; was second as a ridden hunter at Turriff and Keith shows in 2013; and won at the Puddledub Summer as a four-year-old. Outside of the show ring, he also affiliates to both British Showjumping and British Eventing jumping double clear on his most recent outing at Floors Castle at BE100 level and achieving top five results at BE80/90 level at Hopetoun, Auchlinleck, Dalkeith and Burgie. equestrian@thecourier.co.uk RESULTS SUPREME CHAMPION Marissa Stephen, Cliftons Amaretto. Reserve supreme: Philippa Merry, Woodytwoshoes. COLOURED Bethan Whamond, Aodh Fin. Reserve: Zoe Guild, Rubix Cube. Coloured native in-hand: 1 Ruth McLean, Lionheart Stud Dreammaker; 2 Louise Todd, Mr Slipper. Coloured non-native in-hand: 1 Gemma Morrison, Marco; 2 Zoe Guild, Rubix Cube; 3 Marc Mitchell, Siangie Miami. Coloured native ridden: 1 Bethan Whamond, Aodh Finn; 2 Ruth McLean, Lionheart Stud Dreammaker. Coloured non-native ridden: 1 Zoe Guild, Rubix Cube; 2 Carol Petrie, Caldecott Domino; 3 Anne Shaw, Bella. VETERAN Kirstie Finnie, Littlehill Flynn. Reserve: Catherine Blundell, Abbie. Pre-veteran in-hand: 1 Kirstie Finnie, Littlehill Flynn; 2 Kara Hodnett, Lippens Sweetcorn; 3 Hannah Burns, Kirkhill Autumn Wind. Veteran in-hand: 1 Catherine Blundell, Abbie; 2 Gail Foreman, Falla. Pre-veteran ridden: 1 Kirstie Finnie, Littlehill Flynn; 2 Stephanie Forbes, Bex; 3 Courtney Steel, Grey Glory Lady. Veteran ridden: 1 Catherine Blundell, Abbie; 2 Gail Foreman, Falla. RIDDEN HUNTER Fiona Walker, Worsenden Liberty. Reserve: Philippa Merry, Woodytwoshoes. Novice: 1 Sally Finnie, Hamlets Heiro; 2 Fiona Walker, Worsenden Liberty; 3 Gemma Morrison, Marco. Large: 1 Philippa Merry, Woodytwoshoes; 2 Sally Kidd, Just Aske Darcy; 3 K Adamson, Kevin. Small: 1 Fiona Walker, Worsenden Liberty; 2 Donna Webster, Suprime Star. WORKING HUNTER Philippa Merry, Woodytwoshoes. Reserve: Sally Kidd, Just Aske Darcy. Novice: 1 Diana Ewart, Derby; 2 Eve Beveridge, Seville; 3 Jacqui Nicol, Sligo Star Lady. Intermediate: 1 Philippa Merry, Woodytwoshoes; 2 Gillian Fotheringham, Dunleer Dixie; 3 Laura Halil, Copper. The Courier/BHS Scotland RC Working Hunter Qualifier: 1 Sally Kidd, Just Aske Darcy; 2 Laura Halil, Copper; 3 Anne Shaw, Bella. ROR/EX-RACEHORSE Sarah Spence, Tallula. Reserve: Carol Bunting, Roman Sioux. RoR Challenge: 1 Sarah Spence, Tallula; 2 Gillian Fotheringham, Dunleer Dixie. RoR Show Horse: 1 Carol Bunting, Roman Souix; 2 Sarah Spence, Tallulah; 3 Erin Logie, Katiesister. Blair Ridden Ex-Racehorse Qualifier: 1 Sarah Spence, Tallula; 2 Carol Bunting, Roman Sioux; 3 Erin Logie, Katiesister. MOUNTAIN & MOORLAND Julie Speirs, Dunard Colleen. Reserve: Sandie Kydd, Burnside Vorlich. M&M WHP: 1 Julie Speirs, Dunard Colleen; 2 Jennifer Adams, Troustrie Minnie Moose; 3 Kirstie Williams, Usworth Silver Rocket. Small breeds in-hand: 1 Kara Hodnett, Lippens Sweetcorn. Large breeds in-hand: 1 Alison Walker, Passford Pollyanna; 2 Zoe Guild, Dun Archer; 3 Kirstie Williams, Usworth Silver Rocket. Highland pony in-hand: 1 Sandie Kydd, Burnside Vorlich; 2 R Stewart, West Lodge Ashley; 3 Hamish Cameron, Maymorn of Turin Hill. Small breeds ridden: 1 Kara Hodnett, Lippens Sweetcorn. Large breeds ridden: 1 Jennifer Adams, Troustrie Minnie Moose; 2 Kirstie Williams, Usworth Silver Rocket; 3 Zoe Guild, Dun Archer. Highland pony ridden: 1 Sandie Kydd, Burnside Vorlich; 2 Ali Caldow, Juanjorge of Moulzie; 3 Kirstie Smith, Ruban Ceo of Netherby. RIDDEN HORSES AND COBS Marissa Stephen, Cliftons Amaretto. Reserve: Suzanne Cargill, Ellie-At. Novice: 1 Ruth McLean, Lionheart Stud Dreammaker; 2 Morag Thomson, Balhagarty Quest for Scarlet; 3 Adrienne Milne, Preston. Ridden show cob: 1 Anne Lindsay, Mister Benn; 2 Louise Todd, Blossom Hill. Ridden traditional cob: 1 Lynn Milby, Jack; 2 Bethan Whamond, Aodh Fin. Small riding horse: 1 Marissa Stephen, Cliftons Amaretto; 2 Katie Blewitt, Traemarr Seattle; 3 Lynne Sawers, Poppy. Large riding horse: 1 Suzanne Cargill, Ellie-At; 2 K Adamson, Kevin; 3 Joanne Sinclair, Alaska Der Bride. Ridden foreign breeds: 1 Joanne Sinclair, Alaska Der Bride; 2 K Adamson, Kevin. RIDING CLUB HORSE Suzanne Cargill, Ellie-At. Reserve: Eve Beveridge, Seville. Large RC horse: 1 Suzanne Cargill, Ellie-At; 2 Eve Beveridge, Seville; 3 Chelsea Donald, HP. Small RC horse: 1 Anne Lindsay, Mister Benn; 2 Donna Webster, Suprime Star; 3 Julie Speirs, Dunard Colleen. Showjumping: 1 Tia Steel, Gems Flavia; 2 Eve Beveridge, Seville; 3 Nicki Flood, Penny. Style jumping: 1 Anne Shaw, Bella; 2 Jennifer Adams, Troustrie Minnie Moose; 3 Erica Double, Shean’s Paddy.

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


‘Amanda was my rock’ survivor running Race for Life in memory of daughter taken by cancer

June 19 2014

She was there to witness her first breath and, heartbreakingly, was there at her last. Now a Dundee mother who herself overcame cancer is to run the Race for Life in memory of her hero daughter, her “rock”, who tragically died from the disease. Winnie Strachan has vowed to dedicate the medal she will pick up as she crosses the finish line of Sunday’s 10k Cancer Research UK event at Camperdown Park to her daughter Amanda Lawson, who was just 36 when she died from cancer. Nearly £30,000 has been raised so far in the former policewoman’s name. Now Winnie, 59, has vowed to take that total higher as a tribute. “We were best friends forever as well as mum and daughter,” she said. “I remember how scared I was when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. “Amanda lived near Aberdeen then but she’d insist on driving down to see me after many shifts just to check I was OK. Amanda was my rock through cancer and helped me so much. “I could never have imagined back then that the real danger just around the corner was that I was going to lose my beautiful daughter.” Winnie endured surgery for a partial mastectomy then five weeks of radiotherapy at Ninewells after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. Eleven months later doctors also advised a hysterectomy to cut the risk of cancer returning. That is why it was a hammer blow when Amanda started complaining of pain and breathlessness. Eventually scans in 2010 showed that Amanda had cancer in her liver, lungs and ovaries. She died just three months later on October 27 the day after her birthday. “I had heard Amanda’s first breath and now I had to hear her last,” Winnie said. “I stood up, put my face next to hers and said ‘Goodbye my darling’. “When she died, she took a part of me with her.” Knowing she was going to die, Amanda had vowed to raise money for others. More than £2,500 was collected at her funeral alone and more than 500 attended. “She’d be amazed if she knew we are almost at £30,000,” Winnie added. Winnie now loves to spend as much time as possible with Amanda’s daughters Emma, who is eight today and Eden, five, who live with their dad Deane in Aberdeenshire. When the girls come to visit their grandmother, they regularly sit on a wooden bench in the garden dedicated to Amanda and hear stories about their mum. The bench is also close to a red rose named after her, Bonnie Amanda. Winnie said: “Emma and Eden are lovely girls and I’m so proud of them. There’s so much in them that reminds me of Amanda. “As they grow up I’ll tell them all about their mum and I’ll keep her memory alive. I owe my precious Amanda that.”


Deacon Blue to headline Stirling’s Hogmanay party

November 5 2013

Decaon Blue will headline the Hogmanay party in Stirling this year. The band will be supported by Perthshire musician Dougie MacLean, Bags of Rock and local favourites Rail Fan. The evening’s festivities will climax with a midnight fireworks display above Stirling Castle. Fiona Anderson, of management company Zisys Events, said: “We’re hugely excited about this year’s line-up. We believe it’s our strongest ever and has something for everyone to enjoy. Tickets are selling fast and we’re urging people to buy early to avoid disappointment. “Our Facebook page has been inundated with requests to bring back Bags of Rock after their stand-out performance last year. Their high-energy, fun-loving songs will really get the party started.” Restaurant chain Frankie & Benny’s is the major sponsor for the Hogmanay event. Derek Mallon, operations director for Frankie & Benny’s, said: “Many people choose Frankie & Benny’s in Stirling and at our restaurants across the country as the location for their celebrations throughout the year, and we are now delighted to be involved in one of Scotland’s biggest celebrations”

Motoring news

Audi showcases raft of new cars

June 29 2016

Audi threw everything it had at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend, with no fewer than nine upcoming models making their UK debuts. One of the most interesting – and affordable – was the new Q2. Audi’s smallest crossover yet, it’ll sit underneath the Q3, Q5 and big ole Q7. It will be available as a front wheel drive or with Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive system. Under the skin there’s a choice of three TFSI petrol and three TDI diesels, with Audi’s 1.0 litre three-cylinder petrol offering 114bhp, the 1.4 litre four-cylinder sitting below the 187bhp 2,.0 litre TFSI. Diesel options are the 1.6 litre TDI with 114bhp and a pair of 2.0 litre TDIs with 148bhp or 187bhp. It goes on sale later this summer with a starting price expected to be in the region of £20,000. At the other end of the price scale is the R8 V10 Spyder. The 553bhp supercar comes a year after the second generation coupe R8 was released. Audi reckons the new Spyder is 50 per cent stiffer than the last Spyder, and its canvas roof stows beneath a massive rear deck, able to open or close at speeds up to 31mph in 20 seconds. Fuel economy “improves” to just over 24mpg thanks to a new coasting function that idles the engine when it’s not needed. Expect it to cost around £130,000. In between those two extremes are a plethora of other upcoming Audis, including the new S5 Coupe, and the Audi TT RS which first revealed a year ago is hardly new but apparently it had never been seen in the UK before. A couple of Q7s were also at Goodwood, including the Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid, which returns a claimed 156mpg, and the SQ7 – a diesel with 429bhp. There was also the refreshed A3 range. Audi’s upmarket Golf rival has been given a styling refresh along with a few new engine options. Following a trend for downsizing, there’s a 1.0 litre three -cylinder petrol unit, while a powerful 2.0 petrol engine also joins the range.