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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...

Scotland

Police appeal as two hen harriers disappear in ‘suspicious circumstances’

May 22 2018

Two hen harriers have disappeared in suspicious circumstances, prompting an appeal by police and conservationists.The birds, named Saorsa and Finn, were fitted with satellite tags allowing experts to follow them.Saorsa was tagged at a nest in Ross-shire in June 2017 which suddenly stopped transmissions in the Angus glens on February 16. Data from the device showed she had been in the area since November 2017 but experts say she has not been seen or heard from since.A spokesman for Balnagown estate, near Tain in Sutherland, said: “Saorsa hatched and fledged from Balnagown estate, and it was an honour and privilege to be able to follow her progress. “Saorsa’s loss is deeply felt by all concerned as we strive hard to assist with conservation and protection of our wonderful wildlife.”Finn was tagged on a nest in Northumberland in July 2016 and showed movements into southern Scotland until March 25 when transmissions stopped in Moffat, Dumfries and Galloway.Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB Scotland’s head of species and land management, said: “The sudden disappearance of these protected rare birds shows that current legislation is not sufficient. “We believe the introduction and enforcement of licensing of ‘driven’ grouse shooting is now vital to help protect the hen harrier, as well as asserting other public interests in the way large areas of our upland landscapes are managed both sustainably and within the law.” A spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “As an organisation, there are very few full-time gamekeepers in the Moffat area for us to make inquiries. “The loss of tag transmission in Angus, like the tag in Moffat, merits further, independent, investigation. “There has been a commitment in Angus over the last few years to changing past reputations. “The high numbers of raptors on local moors are proof of that and the first harrier breeding attempt for some time, last year, in the region was a sign of progress.”Anyone with information on the incidents has been asked to contact Police Scotland on 101.

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.

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

Farming news

Upland farmers warned against taking single species approach to land

March 2 2016

Upland farmers and managers need to ditch their single species approach to land and spread the economic risks by embracing forestry, conservation and even the concept of rewilding. That was the message at Tuesday’s conference on agriculture and the environment run by SRUC and Sepa in Edinburgh. Professor Davy McCracken of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) told delegates the upland environment was not properly recognised for the economic, environmental, social and cultural importance that it delivered. And he warned the growing conflict over the future management of Scotland’s uplands needed to be urgently addressed. “There are three overriding issues,” he said. “The uplands are fragile from an economic perspective. “Everyone is pushing in different single species directions, which isn’t good for the environment, and there’s an assumption that rewilding is good and farming is bad. “I’m an ecologist. I understand what rewilding is. And it seems perverse to me that the rewilding debate has been driven by huge changes in the lowland landscape. “It’s perverse to tar all farmers with the same brush and doesn’t recognise the importance of existing hill farming and crofting systems for the high nature farming they provide. “We need to bring change forward and find a way of integrating the land uses and we need to start that conversation now to achieve the objectives, or it will be a case of upland farming or rewilding.” Professor McCracken, who is head of SRUC’s hill and mountain research farm near Crianlarich, said that in some areas of Scotland hill farming was on its “last legs”. “In places like Galloway we’re losing large numbers of sheep and farms that can run sheep,” he said. “It doesn’t need to be sheep or trees. It doesn’t need to be game or trees. We need to see much more integration.” His view was shared by Jamie Farquhar, Scottish manager of the Confederation of Forest Industries (Confor) who said it was time for farmers in the uplands to look again at their approach to forestry. “The demand for big scale commercial forestry is still there,” he said. “But farmers need to consider the options. “In future it needs to be a case of trees plus sheep plus cattle, not sheep versus trees. “Farmers don’t need to give up farming why should they? but we can support them by giving them a different income stream.” However Mr Farquhar said establishing a woodland wasn’t “a DIY job”. “It’s a job for the pros,” he said. “And if farmers are going to grow trees they’ll want something to sell at the end of the day. Native woodlands are all very well but a productive crop makes better financial sense.”

Scotland

Fewer birds of prey poisoned

December 2 2013

The number of cases of illegal poisoning targeting birds of prey fell last year, according to a new report. Seven incidents of deliberate poisoning were recorded, down from 17 in the previous year, wildlife conservation charity RSPB Scotland said. A golden eagle, two buzzards, two cats and a raven died after eating bait laced with highly toxic and banned pesticides. Poison bait was discovered in a seventh case but no victim detected. The charity welcomes the drop but warned about the illegal killing of birds of prey by other means, with 13 further incidents also recorded. These include the shootings of two golden eagles, a hen harrier, a goshawk nest and a short-eared owl. Another golden eagle, two buzzards and a peregrine falcon were caught in illegally set spring traps. Two goshawks, a tawny owl and a buzzard died in illegally operated crow traps. A further 27 probable incidents were identified in the charity's annual report, including cases where satellite-tagged birds disappeared without explanation. Stuart Housden, RSPB Scotland director said "We applaud the continued focus on tackling raptor persecution by the Scottish Government, but much remains to be done. "We also welcome the decline in illegal poisoning. However, if those who wish harm to our country's birds of prey simply turn to other forms of persecution, such as shooting or trapping, then there is little to celebrate. "The deaths of these golden eagles are particularly appalling, given that the golden eagle was recently voted the nation's favourite species in the SNH poll for the Year of Natural Scotland." He called for a review of how the law is applied in cases of birds of prey being targeted. The majority of reported or suspected incidents happened in areas managed for driven grouse shooting in the eastern and central Highlands and the southern uplands of Scotland, the charity pointed out. Ian Thomson, RSPB Scotland's head of investigations, said: "Again, most of these crimes were discovered purely by chance, by local residents, walkers or birdwatchers, in remote areas of countryside, so we thank the public for their continued vigilance. "We accept that legal predator control of foxes and crows, alongside appropriate habitat management, can have conservation benefits for some ground-nesting birds. "But we need our moors to be managed sustainably in ways that are not narrowly focused on ever-increasing grouse bags, and this includes giving a home to the raptors which should occur on these moors."

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.

Scotland

Scotland warned to expect more snow and plunging temperatures

March 18 2013

Forecasters have warned that another cold snap is on its way with parts of the country facing more snow and freezing temperatures. Scotland and the north of England are expected to see up to eight inches of snow build up between tonight and Wednesday morning, with temperatures dropping as low as -15C (5F) overnight. The Met Office issued a yellow severe weather warning urging those in the regions likely to be affected by snow to be aware. Tony Conlan, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, said: "Most accumulations of snow are likely to be overnight on Tuesday. Temperatures could potentially drop as low as -10C (14F) or even -15C (5F), depending on how much snow we see and how the wind falls. "It is nowhere near the UK's record low of -27.2C (minus 17F) but it will still be very chilly." The Grampians, eastern parts of the Southern Uplands, the Lake District and the Pennines are expected to be hit hardest. Issuing a yellow warning for ice today and tomorrow, the Met Office said slippery stretches are "likely on untreated roads and pavements". With snow melting away during the day, commuters are facing potential disruption during morning rush-hour. Mr Conlan said the cold snap should let up after Wednesday, with indications that temperatures may warm up as milder winds come in from the South West on Friday.

Rocktalk

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.

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