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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

Angus & The Mearns

Top musicians returning to the banks of the River Isla for Ruthven Music Festival

May 13 2014

Top classical musicians will perform at this year’s Ruthven Music Festival on the banks of the River Isla. The annual celebration takes place in the beautiful setting of Ruthven Church on June 6, June 8 and September 7. “The first concert of our 25th anniversary season is on the evening of Friday, June 6, and will feature Perth choir, Chansons, performing Tom Cunningham’s Scotland at Night, which sets the poems of Alexander McCall Smith to music,” said Evelyn Hood, secretary of Ruthven Music Festival committee. “This concert will also include the Ruthven Festival Musicians, conducted by Howard Duthie, performing Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 and music by Durante, Handel and Mozart.” On the afternoon of June 8 several talented local youngsters will perform. “This year is the Ruthven Music Festival’s silver anniversary and, having been involved since the start, I am delighted that several of the musicians participating in this year’s concerts also participated in our first festival,” Ms Hood continued. “Violinist Morag Ann Elder, cellist Donald Gordon, soprano Alison McDonald who is singing at our September 7 silver anniversary recital, as is mezzo soprano and orchestra leader Audrey Mattner are all favourites with Ruthven Festival devotees.” Another treat for music lovers attending the silver anniversary recital will be a performance of music by Bach and Dialago by Colin Jackson, a cellist who recently moved to Angus after retiring from the Covent Garden Opera Orchestra. Tickets are £20 for each concert with under-12s welcome free of charge. To book, email ruthvenfestival@tiscali.co.uk, call 01828 632558 or email hepworth393@btinternet.com.

Perth & Kinross

Earn salmon anglers hit out at Environment Secretary in reclassification row

October 19 2017

The Environment Secretary has been slammed for a “weak” response to concerns raised over the reclassification of a Perthshire salmon-fishing river. Roseanna Cunningham defended Marine Scotland over the methodology used to categorise Scottish waters after angling clubs on the River Earn claimed it was “flawed”. Clubs along the Earn fear they will be forced to close after the river was dropped from a category two to a category three for the 2018 season, meaning a 100% catch and release policy will be enforced. The Earn was last placed in category three, the strictest of the three gradings, in 2016, but was reclassified to the more relaxed category two for 2017. Pat Silvey, of Comrie Angling Club, wrote to Ms Cunningham calling for a rethink on the issue, but has been left “angry” by her response. Ms Cunningham outlined the methods used to assess the rivers, adding that two additional fish counters had been added to the six already in use to monitor the number of fish returning to Scottish rivers. However Mr Silvey, a former maths and statistics teacher with a degree in mathematics from Cambridge, claims there is no “credible scientific justification” for the decision. He said: “She makes no attempt to answer my question about why Marine Scotland are not using a model based on the numbers of juvenile fish in the river, which is relatively easy to sample and estimate reliably, rather than relying on an egg deposition model. "Egg deposition is effectively unmeasurable, which forces them to rely on data on fish returning to the river, which are essentially unreliable. “She also has no real response to my questions about the unreliable nature of those data on returning fish, as catch returns are inherently unreliable, and do not record fish returning to rivers out the angling season, particularly in November and December. “They may have added two more fish counters, but that still leaves them with a small sample of eight rivers, selected because they have fish counters on them, rather than because they are a truly statistically representative sample of all river types in Scotland. “To extrapolate from a small unrepresentative sample like that is, frankly, ridiculous, and undermines fatally the validity of any conclusions reached. “I don't know what agenda is driving this system of categorisation but to misuse statistical techniques to further that agenda does nothing to enhance the credibility of the organisations involved.” A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Marine Scotland assesses the status of wild salmon stocks annually and we have recently consulted on river categories for the 2018 fishing season. “Marine Scotland uses all appropriate local data when provided by local managers which, in the case of the River Earn, is through liaison with the Tay District Salmon Fishery Board.”


Fife nurse worked while ‘off her face’ on drugs

February 4 2013

A nurse who turned up for work so heavily under the influence of drugs that she was unable to hold a conversation claimed she was on slimming pills. Lisa Cunningham repeatedly reported for duty in the gynaecology ward at Forth Park Hospital, Kirkcaldy, with slurred speech and one colleague said she was “off her face”. The previously competent and capable nurse allowed one patient’s oxygen cylinder to run out and discharged another whom she was told was unfit to be released. Following a hearing in Edinburgh last week, Ms Cunningham, who was sacked by NHS Fife, was struck off the register of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), banning her from practising as a nurse. An NMC competence and conduct committee found her guilty of her serious misconduct. It said: “Ms Cunningham’s failings put patients at risk and had the potential to cause patient harm. She clearly breached the code of conduct and her actions could have had serious consequences for those under her care.” Ms Cunningham was absent from the hearing but in a written statement claimed she had been taking slimming pills, eating little and going through a difficult period in her personal life. She began working at Forth Park, which closed down a year ago, in 2002 and colleagues raised concerns in 2005 when her behaviour became erratic and her attitude and demeanour changed. A senior charge nurse told the NMC committee Ms Cunningham had previously taken pride in her appearance but in November 2005 she began arriving on shift with her uniform unironed and her hair unwashed. She attended for duty at the hospital four times under the influence of drugs, in November 2005 and February and April 2007. She also repeatedly turned up for work late and disappeared from the ward without informing colleagues. During one absence of an hour and a half, Ms Cunningham had failed to transfer a patient from a temporary to a permanent oxygen supply and failed to hand her care over to another nurse. Another nurse then saw the empty oxygen cylinder and told the committee the lack of oxygen could have had serious consequences as the patient was on morphine, which can affect the respiratory system. When Ms Cunningham returned, a colleague described her as agitated and swaying, and said her speech was slurred and she appeared to be finding it difficult to concentrate on their conversation. Referring to Ms Cunningham’s admission she had been taking slimming pills, the committee said: “This could have had an effect on her ability to function properly.” While Ms Cunningham, who has not worked as a nurse since 2007, had apologised to colleagues, the committee said there was no evidence of remediation. It concluded: “It is not appropriate for Ms Cunningham to remain on the register without restriction. Her actions put patients at unwarranted risk of harm and she has breached fundamental tenets of the profession.”


Inverkeithing community leader makes apology for racist remark

July 9 2013

A community leader has apologised for making a racist remark at a public meeting. Chris Cunningham, Inverkeithing Community Council chairman, used an offensive term to describe a local shopkeeper. He was immediately challenged by appalled fellow community councillors at the meeting held to discuss an annual event in the town. The next day Mr Cunningham wrote to members of the body, which represents and promotes the general interests of the community, to issue a “heartfelt apology” for his “inappropriate remark”. However, fellow community councillor Wayne Morris who is considering resigning unless the incident is dealt with said local people should be told what sort of language was being used at community council meetings. He said he and others at the meeting were horrified by what long-serving community councillor Mr Cunningham had said. “It was completely wrong,” he said. “How someone who is the chairman of a community council or in public life in any way can justify remarks like that is beyond me. “I believe the people of Inverkeithing deserve to know the type of thing that is being said at Inverkeithing Community Council meetings.” Mr Cunningham’s brief letter to community councillors said: “I sincerely apologise for the inappropriate remark I made, which I appreciate was offensive.” The meeting, to discuss the traditional Hat and Ribbon Race on August 2, was open to the public but only seven community councillors and a local councillor attended. Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor Alice McGarry was among those said to have confronted Mr Cunningham over his remarks. Afterwards she said: “There was a remark made which was unacceptable and which has since been apologised profusely for. “As far as I am concerned it is over and done with. It is up to the community council to deal with this internally.” Mr Cunningham reiterated his apology when contacted by The Courier. He added: “In no way did I mean to be hurtful or malicious. I deeply regret my actions.” It is not the first time Mr Cunningham’s behaviour at a community council meeting has been called into question. Minutes of the council’s March meeting note discussion of his “unacceptable conduct” at a previous meeting.

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

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.

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.


Event preview: Byre in the Botanics

June 23 2017

Midge Ure, Elkie Brooks, Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham and jazz icon Chris Barber are among the top music acts lined up to play this year’s Byre in the Botanics in St Andrews. From opera to street dance, jazz to pop music, this year’s Byre in the Botanics offers a season of spectacular outdoor performances and big screen films programmed by the Byre Theatre. Set in St Andrews Botanic Gardens, with a fully-seated and covered performance area and licensed bar, the 2017 programme is packed full of events including concerts from Midge Ure and India Electric Co, Elkie Brooks, Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham, The Glenn Miller Orchestra UK, Gallagher & Lyle and jazz legend Chris Barber. There’s also a stunning new production of Puccini’s La Bohème, the Scottish debut of jaw-dropping Dutch street dance crew The Ruggeds, and the chance to show off your best Strip the Willow at a series of ceilidhs. This year’s festival follows on from its phenomenally successful debut year, and runs every Thursday to Saturday from June 29 to July 29. Liam Sinclair, the Byre’s artistic director, says this year’s festival promises some “hidden gems”, as well as big names. “It’s amazing to have the likes of Midge Ure and the Elkie Brooks concert has already sold out,” he says. “But there are also some hidden gems, such as The Ruggeds, a street dance crew who’ve appeared in Justin Bieber and Rita Ora videos. “The idea of the venture is to create a summer season that has something for everybody – family audiences, non-family audiences – and to tap into both resident audiences and tourist audiences.” Last year’s festival drew just under 5,000 people, says Liam, and he hopes this year will attract even higher numbers. If it rains, visitors will be well protected, as the venue is under cover. “The Scottish weather can be very varied so one of the things we’ve tried to build on is how weather-proofed we’ve made the site,” says Liam. “The marquee is very translucent so you still get a sense of being outdoors, even though you’re under cover. If it rains, you’ll be comfortable.” Midge Ure performs on July 22 while “Queen of British Blues” Elkie Brooks is on July 15. Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham’s show is on June 29, Chris Barber performs with his big band on July 27 and there’s a rare live set from songwriting legends Gallagher & Lyle on July 29. Making a welcome return are last year’s runaway favourites, the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys who will bring their authentic Louisiana party sounds to St Andrews on July 20, with other live music highlights including the toe-tapping Glenn Miller Orchestra UK led by Ray McVay on July 8 and dynamic Celtic beats from Mànran on July 7. This year’s event will host the only Scottish performances of OperaUpClose’s Olivier Award-winning production of the classic romantic opera La Boheme on July 13 and 14, with a fresh new English language translation. Those wanting to show off their moves can practice their best Virginia Reels and Strip The Willows at two Grand St Andrews Ceilidhs on July 6 and 28, with a live band led by top broadcaster and musician Billy Anderson. The Byre In The Botanics big screen will show a host of favourite family movies including Frozen, The Secret Life of Pets and Up, with fun activities before films ranging from Gruffalo Trails around the gardens to plant potting workshops. Fife street food company Screaming Peacock will fire up the on-site BBQ to serve local wild venison burgers whilst the bar will be stocked with locally brewed ales alongside wines, fizz and cocktails. Byre In The Botanics runs every Thursday to Saturday from Thursday June 29 to Saturday July 29. For more info, see www.bitb17.com