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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...


Robert the Bruce revved up for summer festival

May 13 2010

Robert the Bruce roared back in to Dunfermline this week with rather more horsepower under him than he was ever used to. Dunfermline's famous king visited his old stomping ground with Celtic singer Karen Matheson to launch this year's extended Bruce Festival. Running from August 19 to 29, the festival is a celebration of the life of the Scottish hero, presenting world class Scottish musicians Dougie MacLean, Capercaillie singer Karen Matheson and Dick Gaughan in concerts for Robert the Bruce Myths and Legends at Dunfermline Abbey. The concerts are to be followed by sunset tours of the ancient abbey and palace, amid a spectacular Son et Lumiere. The evening performances are produced by Unique Events using the breathtaking backdrop of the abbey for music, storytelling and a few surprises along the way. On August 28 and 29 Pittencrieff Park will be the setting of Robert the Bruce Live! The glen will pulse with the rhythm of kings of Celtic rock Saor Patrol and showcase medieval camp life with hand-to-hand fighting from movie stunt performers Combat International, who arrive in Dunfermline fresh from the set of Ridley Scott's latest Robin Hood movie. There will also be battle re-enactments, an international street market, children's battles and much more for all the family. Robert the Bruce is buried in Dunfermline Abbey, under the tower that bears his name, and the town has for some years celebrated this historical connection. Previous festivals have attracted thousands of visitors. Thanks to a grant from EventScotland, organisers Dunfermline Delivers have this year added the three concerts and Son et Lumiere to the Bruce celebration. EventScotland's chief operating officer Paul Bush said, "The Bruce Festival celebrates Scotland's history, heritage and culture and appeals to locals, Scots and tourists from around the world. "The festival attracts thousands of people to Dunfermline and the extended programme this year, including the concerts and Son et Lumiere, funded by EventScotland, will without doubt be one of the highlights of the year long programme of events, Celebrating Fife 2010. "Cultural events like the Bruce Festival are brilliant drivers for domestic and international tourism and raise the profile of Scotland's many attractions ensuring they, and the areas they belong to, continue to thrive." Fife Council is also supporting the Bruce Festival as part of Celebrating Fife 2010. Dunfermline Delivers chief executive Susan Hughes said the festival was timed to link in with other international events such as the Edinburgh Festival. "We are confident that such a range of entertainment for families, local and international visitors will really put Dunfermline on the map as a place to visit and enjoy," she said. Tickets for the concerts and Son et Lumiere are on sale at www.visitdunfermline.com/brucefestival and Robert the Bruce Live! in Pittencrieff Park is free to attend. News about The Bruce Festival is on Facebook and on Twitter @DunfermlineBID.


Robert the Bruce comes alive at Dunfermline Abbey

July 13 2010

Dunfermline will be filled with lights, music, myths, legends and action next month, as it hosts the Bruce Festival, part of the Celebrating Fife 2010 programme. The event, which runs from August 19 to 29, celebrates the life of Scottish hero Robert the Bruce, who is buried in Dunfermline Abbey. Thanks to funding from Celebrating Fife 2010 and national events agency EventScotland, this year's festival is bigger than ever and includes three concerts and a Son et Lumiere. The Robert the Bruce Myths and Legends concerts on August 19, 20 and 21 each involve one of Scotland's most acclaimed performers as Dougie MacLean, Karen Matheson and Dick Gaughan perform intimate concerts inside the abbey's nave. The audience will then walk with Robert the Bruce on a sunset tour of the ancient abbey and palace as Scotland's hero takes them on a chronological journey, with dramatic outdoor performances, storytelling and a Son et Lumiere of lighting effects and music. There is a chance for visitors to step back in time on August 28 and 29 at Robert the Bruce-Live in Pittencrieff Park. Kings of Celtic rock Soar Patrol will provide the soundtrack as the Clanranald Trust showcases medieval camp life with hand-to-hand fighting by film stunt performers Combat International, who are fresh from the set of Ridley Scott's latest Robin Hood movie. There will also be battle re-enactments, an inter-national street market, children's battles and have a go archery. The Bruce Festival is a major event in the Celebrating Fife 2010 calendar, a year-long festival highlighting the region's unique environment, cultural identity and lifestyle activities. Beverley Reid, Fife Council's Dunfermline area cultural co-ordinator, said, "The festival is a special 2010 celebration of the life of one of Scotland's most famous and inspiring heroes, Robert the Bruce. "With a jam-packed programme that offers something special for all ages, this medieval feast will be sure to inspire and enthrall." Susan Hughes, chief executive of Dunfermline Delivers, added, "This year the festival is timed to link in with other international events like the Edinburgh Festival and we're sure that with such a range of entertainment for families, local and international visitors Dunfermline is a must for people's summer plans." Tickets for the concerts and Son et Lumiere are on sale at www.visitdunfermline.com.


Packed Bruce Festival programme opening with Dougie MacLean

August 19 2010

The Bruce Festival opens today with a sell-out concert in Dunfermline Abbey, dramatic performances of Robert the Bruce's life and a stunning son et lumiere that is expected to be visible for miles around. The sold-out Dougie MacLean concert which opens the festival has attracted visitors from as far away as Canada, and Susan Hughes, chief executive of Dunfermline Delivers, which co-ordinates the annual extravaganza, said, "This is a fantastic opening to the festival. There is a great buzz around Dunfermline now as things finally come together. "I have no doubt this will be a significant boost for the city, its reputation and its business community, too." She added that organisers were indebted to the support of EventScotland and Celebrating Fife for helping put on the much extended programme. Fife Council is also supporting the festival as part of Celebrating Fife 2010 and Dorothy Browse, service manager for libraries, arts and museums, said organisers were confident that such a range of entertainment for families, local and international visitors will put Dunfermline firmly on the map as a place to visit and enjoy. Dunfermline Abbey will become a murder scene, a coronation venue and a war camp for the festival. Bathed in a spectacular light show that will be visible from miles away, both the abbey and monastery will come alive with performances in six locations detailing the most compelling parts of the Robert the Bruce story. Visitors will be led on a theatrical promenade while actors recreate the murder of Comyn in Greyfriars Kirk, Bruce's coronation at Scone, the spider story from Rathlin Island, the battle address by Robert the Bruce in full armour on horseback the night before Bannockburn, the Declaration of Arbroath, and Bruce's death. Medieval music accompanies the action, and the audience will become part of the vignettes as bishops, earls and the people of Scotland at the coronation, and as the Scots army at Bannockburn. The first weekend of the festival sees three concerts in the abbey. As well as Dougie MacLean, Karen Matheson and Dick Gaughan will each host a concert. Tours of the abbey for the son et lumiere and costumed theatrical storytelling of Bruce's life are included in the concert ticket price. Later tours can be bought separately. For details see www.visitdunfermline.com/brucefestival

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

Perth & Kinross

Force Of Nature theme for Enchanted Forest 2010

October 22 2010

Perthshire sound and light show The Enchanted Forest looks set to attract 20,000 visitors to Faskally Wood near Pitlochry. In its ninth year, the Enchanted Forest is now managed by the social enterprise Highland Perthshire Community Interest Company. The 2010 theme, Force Of Nature, is designed by Scots Simon Wilkinson (lighting) and Ronnie McConnell (sound), whose vision is to use the forest as a backdrop to depict nature's elemental forces earth, wind, fire and water. The music score and lighting design sees the show return to its roots of a traditional son et lumiere show, using the forest and Loch Dunmore. The event runs from tonight until November 7. Derek Allan, chairman of The Enchanted Forest 2010, said, "We've worked with two of Scotland's most exciting designers on this year's show and we are confident it will deliver an experience that visitors will find sensational and engaging."For information and bookings, visit www.enchantedforest.org.uk


Review: Dougie MacLean at Bruce Festival

August 20 2010

Perthshire singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean opened this year's Bruce Festival, playing a solo acoustic set to a sell-out audience in the atmospheric surroundings of Dunfermline Abbey's nave. Organised by Dunfermline Delivers and supported by Celebrating Fife 2010 and EventScotland, the festival brings visitors to Scotland's ancient capital to celebrate the life of Robert the Bruce, who is buried at the abbey. Who better then to open a festival steeped in Scottish history than MacLean, so long now one of the country's greatest musical figures. His unofficial national anthem Caledonia came early in the set, with MacLean commenting on what a privilege it was to play his "wee homesick tune" in such surroundings. Now in his 35th year as a professional musican, there were songs from throughout his career. From 1983 album Craigie Dhu's Ready For The Storm the opening bars repeated as Dougie savoured the nave's special acoustics right up to the brand new You Will Fly Away, his rich melodies sounded at their very best as they reverberated around the cavernous old hall. And this new song provided the most poignant moment of the evening, inspired as it is by MacLean's experiences witnessing and performing during Nordoff-Robbins music therapy sessions at Rachel House children's hospice near Kinross. MacLean described how the children's reactions seemed to confirm his belief that music can perform magic, and few in last night's audience would have disagreed. Dougie's next scheduled shows in Scotland come at his own Perthshire Amber Festival starting on October 29. But for the audience, it was on to the second part of the evening a son et lumiere show telling Bruce's life story. All in all, it provides an enjoyable and unusual accompaniment to a concert experience, and the abbey is beautifully lit throughout. Make sure to wrap up warm, though, as the majority of the tour is spent outside. The son et lumiere is included with the ticket price of all the concerts in the series Karen Matheson and Friends play tonight , followed by Dick Gaughan tomorrow but the tour can also be booked independently. For more information on the festival, which runs until August 29, visit www.visitdunfermline.com/brucefestival


Parliamentary praise for Bruce Festival

August 20 2010

Dunfermline's Bruce Festival has been recognised in the Scottish Parliament. Mid Scotland and Fife Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser believes the extravaganza is a highlight in Scotland's festival calendar and has lodged a parliamentary motion to congratulate the organisers, Dunfermline Delivers. Mr Fraser wished the festival, which started on Thursday, continued success. He said, "The Bruce Festival is a spectacular event in Dunfermline which attracts thousands of visitors to the area, with both visitors and local people getting involved in the festival. "It is a welcome economic boost to the area and I would like to congratulate the organisers as well as all the performers, who have worked so hard to put on the Bruce Festival 2010." He added, "Robert the Bruce and Dunfermline are intertwined with one another and this historic city is proud to be linked to one of Scotland's greatest sons and kings. "Robert the Bruce led the Scottish army to victory during the Wars of Scottish Independence." Mr Fraser said, "The Bruce Festival brings Scotland's history alive and allows visitors to enjoy some first-class shows and performances while learning more about our rich and proud history." During the 10-day festival there are concerts, son et lumiere shows at Dunfermline Abbey and a two-day Bruce Live event in the glen, with battle re-enactments, medieval hospitals and more.


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

Perth & Kinross

Enchanted Forest show reaches for the sky

September 18 2014

Homecoming funding will make the Enchanted Forest even more spectacular when the award-winning show returns next month. More than 40,000 visitors made the visit to Highland Perthshire last year and organisers hope to use their bonus to extend the appeal of the traditional son et lumiere (sound and light) show even further. Aerial artists will take to the treetops of Faskally Wood for a series of carefully choreographed performances thanks to the grant from EventScotland. Its Beacon Events Programme is working to support uniquely Scottish attractions that generate tourism benefits and make the most of the nation’s natural assets. The choice of the Enchanted Forest as one of the beneficiaries is an indicator of the growing acclaim that the show garners. Enchanted Forest producer Derek Allan said he was delighted to receive the funding as it enabled him to bring a “unique and very exciting addition” to the show. “It will enable us to push the boundaries of this very popular event even further than in previous years,” he said. “Having such a mesmerising liveperformance element, combined with stunning lighting effects, is something that feels like the next natural step to take. “The creative team are working hard to ensure our audience continue to be wowed.” Founded in 2002, with just 3,000 visitors attending in its first year, the event now attracts more than 10 times that number. It is now organised by the Highland Perthshire Community Interest Company and the 2014 show has been designed by Scottish lighting designers Kate Bonney and Simon Hayes, with music by RJ McConnell and Jon Beales. EventScotland’s CEO Paul Bush said: “We are delighted to support the Enchanted Forest once again during the Year of Homecoming 2014. The Enchanted Forest is a stunning celebration of Scotland’s artistic and natural assets and, by adding this element of live performance to one of the country’s most loved autumn events, will undoubtedly show that Scotland is the perfect stage for events.” The show is to compete for the titles of Scotland’s Best Cultural Event and Best Large Event at the Scottish Event Awards. For more information about the Enchanted Forest, or to purchase tickets, visit www.enchantedforest.org.uk.