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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

Perth & Kinross

Mountain bikers urged to take care during Pitmedden Forest works

September 17 2013

Mountain bikers are posing an unusual challenge to foresters working in Pitmedden Forest, near Abernethy. Forestry Commission Scotland is soon to start forest-thinning operations and will also be clearing a small number of trees. The proposed works could take up to three months to complete and will mean that access to some parts of the woodland will be restricted. Complicating matters, however, is the forest’s popularity with mountain biking enthusiasts. “Pitmedden Forest is a popular place for walking and horse riding but is best known by mountain bikers for its natural, single-track trails, which crisscross large areas of the forest,” said forester Robin Lofthouse. “This makes our job very challenging as while we want to try and avoid damaging these trails, many of them are routed down the same rides which our machinery use to gain access. “In consultation with local riders we have identified some key trails which will be marked to avoid and we will do our best to minimise damage to others wherever possible.” Mr Lofthouse said thinning the woodland was vital as creating more space would improve the health and quality of the remaining trees and the timber they produce. By letting light reach the woodland floor, the work will also stimulate the growth of ground flora and a new generation of trees. He is confident that the forest will recover quickly and that there will even be opportunities for new routes to emerge in what was previously inaccessible woodland. In addition to some of the main routes, a number of the small informal paths will also be closed, either because machinery needs to cross them or because they will become blocked with cut timber and branch wood. Mr Lofthouse added: “Members of the public are still welcome to visit the forest but we urge everyone to be mindful of any warning notices on the site.” For more information, contact Tay Forest District on 01350 727284, or email tay.fd@forestry.gsi.gov.uk.

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

Rogue sheep in Highland Perthshire forest could be culled

November 15 2017

A flock of lost sheep spotted wandering through a Highland Perthshire forest face being culled. Around 20 unmarked strays were discovered living together in remote woodlands around Drumnakyle, near Tummel Bridge. And now the Forestry Commission has launched an urgent appeal to track down their owner. The Perth-based authority says the rogue sheep need to be removed within the coming weeks to make way for a major tree replacement operation. And because the sheep are regarded as a "biosecurity risk" and are highly unlikely to be marketable, they will be culled if they go unclaimed. A spokesman for Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES), the government agency responsible for managing the country's forest estate, said: "The sheep are still in the forest and although none of them are marked, we are liaising with seven local neighbours, tenants and landowners to try and determine whose sheep they are." He added: "We’re due to carry out some restocking in that area soon but sheep would make short work of anything we plant. That’s why we’d like to see them removed as soon as possible. “If no one comes forward to claim them by the end of next week, we will write out again advising that we will take steps to remove them, ideally by the end of December.” The appeal follows the launch of a new Forest Enterprise strategy, which encourages a better dialogue with farmers to manage stray sheep. FES worked with Police Scotland and the Scottish Government to produce guidance with industry bodies including the National Farmers Union of Scotland. In a statement issued at this year's strategy launch, FES agricultural advisor Robin Waddell said: "For the vast majority of cases we work very well with our neighbours and can resolve sheep trespass issues pretty quickly. "This is how we would like to continue - keeping an open dialogue throughout and working together to get the animals back to their owners. Unfortunately, it doesn't always go that way and the guidance will help our staff manage the times when action is needed." In recent times, the FES has dealt with 190 cases involving 1,500 animals, mostly in the Borders, Galloway and Dumfries areas. The new guidance offers a consistent approach to recording incidents. The NFUS has warned that feral or stray sheep can pose a health risk and could spread diseases like sheep scab. The sheep at Drumnakyle have no identifying tags or markings. Anyone with information is urged to call the Forestry Commission's Tay office on 0300 067 6380.  

Readers' letters

Ship deer over to Skye to save them?

March 11 2013

Sir, It was with some dismay and I must admit, some amusement, I read the letter regarding deer culling from Anne Haddow (March 7). She declares a cull by trained marksmen to be cruel, but surely this is better than a doe seeing her fawn being mown down by a car or lorry, or conversely the fawn being left with no mother and being extremely lucky to survive on its own? The truth is there are far too many for their own good and as spring and summer arrive with lighter mornings, they will soon be out in abundance at 5am, beside the roads bordering and going through Montreathmont Forest and other places, resulting in their death and damage to motor vehicles to be paid for by the owner. And yes, this is after taking extreme care, but their camouflage is good at the side of the road. Can I suggest that if Ms Haddow wishes to prevent their deaths through car strikes or culling, then she can arrange to ship a few thousand over to Skye, where she stays, from Angus and The Mearns and save us all a problem, with the inherent damage to gardens, crops, young trees and the foodstuff of other forest species. It wouldn’t be so bad if they were, as she states, on the hills, but the roe deer are not! Geoff Bray. Heather Croft, Letham, by Forfar. Other methods of note-taking Sir, Re your article on the HIS Ninewells report (March 5), the headline states “no written notes” were taken by the HIS inspectors, during the original September 2012 inspection. This gives the impression the inspection was “sloppily” carried out. These days, however, handwritten note-taking is an old-fashioned way to compile evidence and the inspectors almost certainly used “checklists” and utilised video and tape recordings. These will have been collated and incorporated into the final 24-page report which also contained “verbatim” quotes from patients. The Courier article also quotes Chief HIS Inspector Robbie Pearson as apparently implying the September Inspection was not a “formal” inspection, but I can only assume this was taken out of context. The report I downloaded from MSP Jenny Marra’s website was a formal final report and any suggestion otherwise is misleading to the public. The original report was not published but was “amalgamated” into a further HIS Ninewells inspection report after NHS Tayside challenged some of the findings. A full summary of the NHS Tayside requests for changes and the HIS final report can be accessed from the HIS website. Jennifer Helen Allan. 18 Grangehill Drive, Monifieth. A hackneyed reference Sir, Perth councillor, Elspeth Maclachlan, in her letter on the so-called bedroom tax (March 7) makes the hackneyed left-wing reference to “wealthy Tories”. Voters do not need to be wealthy to vote Conservative. They simply have a different outlook on life, wishing to stand on their own two feet, work hard, pay their way and, if possible, not look for state hand-outs. Simple arithmetic should tell the councillor all Conservative voters cannot be wealthy. There are so many that most of them must be of quite modest means, such as myself and my parents before me. On the other hand, Tony Blair is only one example of the many Labour politicians and voters who can be classed as very wealthy indeed, advocating comprehensive education and the NHS for other lesser mortals, but sending their children to private schools and making use of private clinics when ill. It is very similar to the situation in the old Soviet Union which I visited in 1961. The few cars to be seen on the streets of Moscow and the then Leningrad belonged to high-ranking Communist Party members who preached equal rights for all, except that some were more equal than others! George K McMillan. 5 Mount Tabor Avenue, Perth. Kirkcaldy pong has returned Sir, The Courier were very good over many years, (from 2001 to 2010) telling of the trials and tribulations facing the people of Pathhead, Kirkcaldy regarding the infamous Pathhead pong. The sewage works went on fire on February 2 I alerted the fire services at 3.30am on that date and the part that went up in flames was the newest part, the odour elimination area. So far, nothing has been done to eradicate the awful stench coming once again from that place. Now we find out that it will be another seven to eight weeks before a part can be found to repair the damage! Scottish Water haven’t a clue about customer relations or anything else. Their heads are firmly embedded in the Pathhead Sands. Norma Rutherford. East Lodge, Mid Street, Kirkcaldy.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus councillor inspired by great-granny’s essay on the suffragists

February 9 2018

An Angus councillor has unearthed a fascinating insight into men’s views on the suffragists as the nation commemorated the centenary of some women winning the right to vote. Brenda Durno, SNP member for Arbroath and East Lunan, has been so inspired by an essay written by her great-grandmother in 1904, she is hoping to donate it to a museum in the north east. The amusing reflection was written in the Doric language by Isabella Moir, a 12-year-old pupil at Belhelvie School in Aberdeenshire. She was the eldest of 10 children and had two sisters and seven brothers. Councillor Durno said: “The celebration for the 100 years since women won the right to vote made me think of the essay. “My great grandmother was born in September 1892 and died in May 1992. “She latterly lived in Potterton with my aunt and uncle who ran the shop there and I found the essay when she died.” Mrs Durno chose to enter local politics in the footstep of her father, the SNP councillor Alex Shand, but admitted her great-grandmother was a Liberal supporter. “She was right into politics and was a great friend of Lord Tweedsmuir - the SNP wasn’t around then.” The essay relates to a conversation between a brother and sister as he reads a newspaper article on ‘The Suffragists’. As he works his way through the article, his views become apparent. He berates the efforts of the “limmers of suffragists” claiming “weemans place is at hame” It reads: “They canna mak an men their men’s sarks, keep a clean fireside an have a vote. “Gie then an inch an they wid tak an ill (mile).” The essay goes on to say there a was a time when women were happy “tae tak the chance o’ the first man that socht them, an thankful tae leave the voting an the rulin o the nation tae him”. It was on February 6, 1918 that women aged over 30, those who owned property or had a university education were granted the right to vote through the Representation of the People Act. Mrs Durno is hoping to donate the essay to a museum which specialises in the Doric and would welcome suggestions as to who to contact.

Take A Hike

A clearing in the woods

August 5 2017

Rising from the north-east shoreline of Loch Tay, Drummond Hill is a sturdy little peak lost to forestry. Engulfed by evergreens, the regimented rows of conifers ensure views from its slopes are scant. There is, however, one craggy bluff protruding from the trees – Black Rock – where the vista over Loch Tay and the picturesque village of Kenmore ranks among the best in Highland Perthshire. Drummond Hill has long languished under woodland. It was probably the site of Scotland’s first managed forest, originally planted out with Scots pine, oak and birch by Sir Duncan Campbell, 7th Laird of Glenorchy, back in the 17th Century. Today, it remains a source of timber, one now managed by the Forestry Commission. It was also the place chosen for the re-introduction to Scotland of the capercaillie in 1837. Over hunting and the loss of forest habitat drove the bird to extinction in the mid-18th Century. Teetering on the brink of annihilation once again, Drummond Hill is one of the few places in the country where this elusive member of the grouse family clings precariously to existence. The direct ascent from Kenmore to Black Rock Viewpoint is short but strenuous and I opted instead for a longer, more leisurely approach, following the River Tay downstream from 18th century Kenmore Bridge before entering the plantation at Peeler Gate. Wandering along the grassy riverbank, the way rises into the wooded policies of Taymouth Castle, the 19th century mansion sitting across the water. Lurking amid the trees on this side of the river, Maxwell’s Temple is one of several follies to be found scattered through the grounds. It was erected in 1831 by the fourth Earl of Breadalbane as a memorial to his wife, Mary, and was inspired by the Eleanor crosses commissioned by King Edward I as a tribute to his late wife. Ahead, running through a band of oak, beech, sycamore and rhododendron, the path, perched on a terrace above the river, offered Victorian visitors to the estate a pleasant promenade. Following in the footsteps of the gentry, I passed above the currently closed Chinese Bridge – a crossing point to Taymouth Castle – and proceeded round to Star Battery, a viewpoint with crenellated walls that, in its day, posted a very agreeable vista over the castle and its gardens. Today, the battery is slowly crumbling and trees obscure the scene. The path swings left at this point and, beyond a quaint little wooden cabin, strays away from the Tay, crossing farmland to the base of Drummond Hill. Peeler Gate, at the northern end of the hill, offers access to the forest, the track looping up past a small parking area to a rather messy intersection above a gate. Keep left, ignoring tracks branching right, and the plantation road leads south-west, a couple of lengthy inclines eventually topping out at a crossroads above Kenmore where a sign confirms the onward route to the viewpoint. Lying just off the track, and helpfully signed once again, the walled lookout sits atop a rocky outcrop, a window framed by Scots pine and larch offering nothing short of a breath-taking bird’s eye view. Far below me, Loch Tay shimmered in the sunlight, Kenmore, with its white kirk, white-washed cottages and well-tended greens, a perfect village in miniature from my elevated vantage point.   ROUTE 1. Follow Aberfeldy Road (A827) through Kenmore and over Kenmore Bridge. 2. At northern end of bridge, turn right along riverside path (signed for Comrie Bridge and Aberfeldy). Pass chalet park on left and ascend into woodland, ignoring path branching right. 3. Ignore path branching left (signed Drummond Hill Paths) and continue ahead on path running above river. 4. Pass round locked gate and, approaching road, bear right along parallel path. 5. Go through gap in wall, cross road and ascend forest track to Peeler Gate car park. Continue up track to junction. 6. Ignoring tracks branching right, bear left and continue ahead on forest track. 7. At track crossroads, continue ahead to Black Rock Viewpoint (signed). 8. Return to point 7, turn right and descend to car park. 9. Branch right at gate, descend path to road and turn right, following minor road then A827 back to Kenmore.   INFORMATION Distance: 10.5km/6½ miles Ascent: 350m/1155ft Time: 3 hours Grading: Moderately easy, low level route following riverside paths and forest tracks with some strenuous and prolonged ascent on the latter. Stout footwear recommended as some parts can be muddy underfoot Start/finish: Public car park (Pay and Display) on Pier Road, Kenmore (Grid ref: NN 773453) Map: Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 52; Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer sheet 379 Tourist Information: Aberfeldy iCentre, The Square, Aberfeldy PH15 2DD (Tel 01877 820276) Public transport: Caber Coaches bus service 91 links Aberfeldy and Kenmore on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays only

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.

Readers' letters

Irony of the Typhoon display at Leuchars

September 13 2013

Sir, As the RAF Ensign was lowered at the sunset ceremony at the last RAF Leuchars Airshow, well- informed observers and commentators would have seen the irony in one of the displays during the flying programme, namely the Quick Reaction Alert scramble of two Typhoons. With the planned move of air assets some 150 miles north to Lossiemouth, it is in danger of being renamed Delayed Reaction Alert or Diminished Reaction Alert as even travelling at a supersonic 660mph at, say, 35,000 feet, it is going to take the aircraft approximately 14 minutes to fly from Lossiemouth to Leuchars. RAF Leuchars QRA aircraft have been protecting British airspace for over six decades, with no complaints as to their ability to do so, and as a 9/11 style attack is probably the most likely threat to our airspace these days, it is very strange that these same aircraft will be asked to patrol our skies from Lossiemouth to protect us from rogue civilian aircraft that will be flying in air corridors over Britain, 95% of which are south of the Glasgow/Edinburgh corridor. It would appear that the politicians know they have got it wrong, but none are prepared to reverse the decision. The army are destined to come in 2015, even though rumour has it they don’t want to, as it is completely unsuitable for their needs the runway and its services are being retained for emergency diversions. The £240 million price tag for this folly seems steep, but when compared to the £1.5 billion which has reportedly been wasted by the MoD over the last two years, it doesn’t seem so bad. The taxpayer also gets to see £10.2 million wasted every year in increased training costs for the Typhoons, as they fly all the way back to Fife to practise in well-established training grounds just east of Dundee. The prime directive of government is to protect its citizens. Good defence is not determined by luck but by strategy, something the Government decided to leave out of their SDSR. Mark Sharp. 41 Norman View, Leuchars. Jenny’s got it wrong Sir, Jenny Hjul’s article (yesterday’s Courier) takes up the cudgels on behalf of “female exploitation” in lads’ mags. Jenny has got this one wrong, however. In cases of exploitation it is usually the end user, or purchaser, who is being “exploited” and these magazines are no different. The ladies whose images make up the content are being handsomely paid for being photographed, with their full consent, and the magazines’ proprietors are raking in the cash. Nobody is being exploited at that end of the trade, but it is the blokes who part with their cash to buy the mags who are being exploited. No, Jenny, it’s not male exploitation of women, but quite the reverse. It’s female exploitation of men for profit. It’s being going on since the beginning of time and trying to sound trendy by reversing the roles ain’t going to stop it. Vive le difference! (Captain) Ian F McRae. 17 Broomwell Gardens, Monikie. No Scottish jobs created Sir, The brief article re Seimens turbines arriving in Dundee docks should be of interest to readers. The SNP have consistently declared these monstrosities, which are destroying our beautiful landscape, create jobs. The reality is they are manufactured abroad, connected using foreign cables and do not create any Scottish jobs, courtesy of EU procurement rules. We all know the enthusiasm Mr Salmond has for the EU, so he is right in one respect. They do create jobs. For the Germans. However, they cost us all huge amounts in massive subsidies in our electricity bills. If, God forbid, we secure independence, we will have the euro thrust upon us, increasing cost even more. Iain Cathro. 31 Ferndale Drive, Dundee. Slipping into a ‘dark age’? Sir “Humans have stopped evolving” (The Courier Tuesday, September 10). This statement by Sir David Attenborough may be the most significant of his career and deserves to be taken very seriously by governments around the world. Should he be correct, and there is much evidence to indicate he is, then we are already in regression and slipping into a “Dark Age”. Perhaps it is now time for ad hoc “think tanks” to formulate strategic global plans for the way ahead . . . taking into account the objectives and aspirations of all good people before it is too late! Kenneth Miln. 22 Fothringham Drive, Monifieth. A great day all round Sir, Having been an outspoken critic of the traffic and parking management in the past, I must now congratulate all concerned with last Saturday’s air show. In light of the number of people attending, getting on site was, for us, a breeze. The show was excellent even though the Vulcan and red nine (only eight red arrows some shapes just didn’t work!) were sorely missed. Even the weather held up. a great day all round. Marcia Wright. 19 Trinity Road, Brechin.