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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...

Perth & Kinross

Clansmen and women head home to Scottish roots

February 18 2017

Members of an ancient clan whose ancestral  lands lay in Glenshee and Glenisla will be heading from around the world this summer for a gathering in Perthshire. This year the clan MacThomas members have also been invited to take in a performance of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, marching on to the castle esplanade wearing the clan tartan. Following their appearance at the tattoo on August 24,  the clan gathering will be staged in Pitlochry and Glenshee from August 25 to 28. Events will include a tour of the clan territory, genealogy research, attendance at the Strathardle Highland Games in Kirkmichael, and a clan dinner in the presence of the 19th chief, Andrew MacThomas of Finegand, in Pitlochry. There will also be a ceremony held at Clach na Coileach in Glenshee, battle re-enactments in both Glenshee and Glenisla and a ceilidh. Mary Grundberg (nee Thoms), the clan's European secretary, said: "The gathering is always a memorable get together with clansfolk coming from all over the world. “This year will be extra special with the opportunity of taking part in the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo.” According to the society’s research Tomaidh Mor “Great Tommy”, from whom the clan takes its name, lived in the 15th century in Glenshee. To the government in Edinburgh they were recognised as a separate clan and known as MacThomases. The 7th chief extended the clan's land into Glen Begg,  Prosen and Strathardle and he purchased the Barony of Forter in Glenisla. Cromwell won the 7th chief's admiration but this soured his relationship with the neighbouring clans and on the restoration of Charles II in 1660, he found himself in trouble with parliament, who fined him heavily. The fine, a feud and a cripling law suit that followed ruined the MacThomases, and following the 7th chief's death, his sons were forced to sell their lands and the clan started to drift apart with some taking the names McCombie, McComb and McCombe as well as the anglicised forms Thom, Thoms, Thomas and Thomson. The Clan MacThomas Society was founded in 1954 and information on the tattoo appearance and the gathering is available at  www.clanmacthomas.com.

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

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.


Angry spat over future of Fife base RAF Leuchars

April 11 2011

A furious war of words has broken out in North East Fife, after Liberal Democrat candidate Iain Smith was accused of "blatant double standards." His SNP rival Rod Campbell hit out as the emotive issue of RAF Leuchars' future began to dominate the local campaign trail. Mr Campbell insisted the Lib Dem candidate had been "less than straight" with voters in a new campaign leaflet. "The latest Lib Dem leaflet tries to take credit for changes in taxation by reminding voters that the UK Government is a Tory/Lib Dem coalition," Mr Campbell said. "The changes in question were introduced by George Osborne in his recent Budget and Iain Smith seems happy in this case to be associated with the Conservatives in London. "However, right next to the article on taxation is one about the threat to RAF Leuchars. It posts Mr Smith as champion of the campaign to save the airbase. "Nowhere does this article recognise that it is the Lib Dem/Tory coalition that threatens Scottish defence facilities, not least RAF Leuchars. "When Iain Smith likes the actions of the London coalition, he claims credit for his party. "When it comes to RAF Leuchars, he pretends that he has nothing to do with Nick Clegg and the actions of the London government. However, Mr Smith was happy to laugh off the SNP missive. "This is typically laughable bluster from the SNP," he said. "Yes, thanks to the Liberal Democrats thousands of Fifers will pay no tax from this month and around 180,000 will have a tax cut and, yes, Sir Menzies Campbell MP and Ialong with members of the local community and the RAF Leuchars task forceare campaigning vigorously to save the base. "I am a campaigner for my community and RAF Leuchars is vital to our social fabric, local economy and defence of the UK. "The MoD have repeatedly said that no decisions have been made on the future of RAF bases, but that does not stop us from making the case for its retention. "Sadly, the SNP candidate has yet again undermined the efforts of those fighting hard to save the base."

Angus & The Mearns

Arbroath man punched sister in the face

February 6 2013

An Angus man punched his sister in the face after mistakenly accusing her of breaking his phone. Derek Smith (27), Strathairlie Avenue, Arbroath, appeared at the town’s sheriff court following the incident on November 20. He previously admitted seizing his sister Natasha Smith by the throat and punching her in the head to her injury at her home in St Thomas Crescent. The court heard that Smith attended at his sister’s house while heavily under the influence of alcohol. Depute fiscal Jill Drummond said Ms Smith’s eight-month-old baby had been sleeping in the bedroom at the time of the assault. “The complainer was wakened by the sound of a male voice she recognised as the accused,” she told the court. “She answered the door to prevent her daughter being woken. The accused asked the complainer to call him a taxi and produced a broken phone.” Ms Smith told her brother that the phone was not working, which triggered an angry response. Smith became aggressive and took a step backwards before grabbing her by the throat with one hand. Ms Drummond said: “She tried to pull away from his grip but he used his free hand to punch her to the left side of the face near her eye.” Hearing the commotion, a neighbour rushed to the door and witnessed Ms Smith in a “hysterical” state. The police were then called. Officers witnessed reddening to Ms Smith’s neck and a bruise that appeared to be fresh. Her brother was traced to the Brechin Road area and when questioned stated: “I put my hands up to everything.” Defence agent Ian Flynn said alcohol was to blame for his client’s actions. “Because of the alcohol consumed, he mistakenly thought his sister had been responsible for breaking his phone. He accepts his behaviour was beyond the pale and puts it down to alcohol. “Luckily enough has sister did not require any medical treatment.” Sheriff Peter Paterson fined Smith £250 and ordered him to pay £150 in compensation.

Business news

Social investment boost welcomed

November 26 2016

A Scottish fund specialising in social enterprise investment has welcomed tax changes designed to boost the sector. As part of his Autumn Statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond moved to raise the Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) ceiling to £1.5 million from a threshold of £293,000 over three years. Thomas Gillan, chief financial officer at Social Investment Scotland, said it was a “significant boost.” “We have always argued that a buoyant social enterprise sector simply cannot sustain its growth without adequate capital to meet an increase in funding demand,” Mr Gillen said. “For the social investment sector, this has meant looking beyond traditional institutional, government and public sector funding sources and tapping into a wider pool of social investment capital. “The fact that charities and social enterprises have already raised £3.4m since the introduction of SITR should not be underestimated. “Its success to date demonstrates an appetite amongst investors to see their money put to good use.” The changes followed two successful social enterprise events held as part of Fife Business Week. More than 120 people took part in a funding event at the Fife Renewables Innovation Centre and a social enterprise themed conference at Kirkcaldy’s Adam Smith theatre. Conference attendee Thomas McAlister of UnLtd said: “ It was great to see so many social entrepreneurs and support agencies come together to network and learn from each other. “I met innovative social entrepreneurs and hope to be able to support some of them with investment and support through UnLtd Scotland’s awards programme.”

Dundee FC

Dundee striker A-Jay Leitch-Smith insists Partick penalty hero should have been sent off

October 23 2017

Dundee frontman A-Jay Leitch-Smith insists Tomas Cerny should not have stayed on the park to save his penalty. Leitch-Smith had already opened the scoring for the dominant Dark Blues when he was fouled by the Jags goalie on 23 minutes. Instead of handing the ball to nominated taker Sofien Moussa, Leitch-Smith took the spotkick himself and looked on in horror as Cerny stuck out a leg to save his shot. That was just one of many golden chances missed by Dundee and they were made to suffer for their poor finishing as Thistle grabbed an injury-time goal through substitute Miles Storey to secure a highly-unlikely 2-1 victory. The decision by referee Euan Anderson to merely book Cerny rather than send him off angered both Dens boss Neil McCann and Leitch-Smith himself. The on-loan Shrewsbury Town player said:  "The keeper should have been sent off as I was clean through on goal. "I was expecting him to go off as I had gone round him and all I would have had to do was tap it into an empty net. "So I was expecting a red card. "I knocked it to the side of him and he has brought me to the floor and that is a clear goalscoring opportunity.” Manager McCann agreed, saying: "That's the defining moment (the penalty save). “I saw the Partick Thistle players going over to him at the end because it was the defining moment. "I don't think Cerny makes any attempt to get the ball. “Now the rules are, if you make a genuine attempt to get the ball it's a booking. “There is no attempt there to win the ball - he has cleaned out the player. "Without doubt I am absolutely fizzing inside because it takes me all my control at the side of the pitch not to lose my rag and get sent to the stand. "That's a disgraceful decision. “There is no attempt (to win the ball), I don't care what anyone says. “He should have walked." As for the decision to take it himself rather than hand the ball to Moussa, Leitch-Smith added: "If you win the penalty then you want to take it - don't you? "The manager mentioned that Moussa should have taken it after the game. "I tried to wait for the keeper to move and he left his leg there. "Unfortunately, I missed when I should have scored.”

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

Perth & Kinross

Hidden masterpieces go online

February 11 2013

Hundreds of paintings that have lain hidden for decades have been put on display for the first time. The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum has unveiled more than 400 works of art online as part of a nationwide event. The new exhibition will celebrate the completion of the Your Paintings website, which showcases the entire UK collection of oil paintings and has been created by the BBC, along with the Public Catalogue Foundation. Collections curator for the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum Michael McGinnes said: “It has been our ambition to rehang the collection in a refurbished Smith Gallery. “The process is taking longer than planned but, in the meantime, visitors can see all of the Smith’s oil paintings online. “We have a special showing of the works of the founder of the Stirling Smith, the artist Thomas Stuart Smith and his contemporaries in the Smith’s Entrance Gallery.” The hidden gems of the Stirling gallery can be viewed at bbc.co.uk/yourpaintings, alongside paintings from 441 museums, galleries and public buildings in Scotland.