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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

Search for families of Normandy 51st Highland Division heroes

April 26 2013

A Black Watch veteran has mounted a last-ditch effort to contact the families of soldiers who fell during a decisive battle of the Second World War. The men are to be honoured at a new monument in France next month and Dr Tom Renouf would like surviving relatives to play a part in the poignant unveiling ceremony. With Perth and Kinross, Dundee, Angus and Fife the traditional recruiting ground of the regiment, Dr Renouf thought an appeal through The Courier might bear fruit. “I am trying to contact the families of six Black Watch comrades who were killed on August 28/29 1944 in Normandy serving with the 5th Black Watch in the 51st Highland Division,” said Dr Renouf, who lives in Musselburgh. “I would like the families to know that a monument to honour the names of their wartime relatives killed on that date is being unveiled in Mauny, France, on June 1, the village near the Seine where they gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy today.” The soldiers being honoured are:Major Donald Mirrielees MC, 67799, killed aged 29 Sergeant Thomas Kirkcaldy, from Fife, 2759029, killed aged 26 Corporal Harry Chapman, 3325134, killed aged 31, son of George and Alice Chapman, Hull Corporal James O’Keefe, 2756230, killed aged 22, son of Florence Beatrice O’Keefe Private Harry Billington, 14435148, killed aged 19, son of Henry and Emelia Billington, Bromborough, Cheshire Private George Hildred, 14433352, killed aged 18, son of Laurence and Alice Hildred, York.Dr Renouf added: “I was wounded on the same day as my six comrades were killed and I have been invited by the Mayor of Mauny to unveil the monument but the ceremony would be greatly enriched if any of the families could attend the unveiling. “My fear is that these families never get to know that their heroic war casualty has been paid the tribute he deserves by strangers who realise the debt that they owe him. “The tragedy of losing a loved one in the war brought untold grief to the families, all the harder to bear when the fate of their loved one was unknown and there was no formal recognition of their sacrifice. “It is a great consolation to the families of our Black Watch comrades to know that after all these years, their names are to be honoured.” He added: “Trying to contact families after 70 years when little is known of their whereabouts is a mission impossible without the help of others. “To date, I have made contact with two families, who were overjoyed to hear about the memorial and who have arranged for grandchildren to attend the ceremony.” Dr Renouf can be contacted on 0131 665 3274 or at beejaycory@gmail.com.

Perth & Kinross

Black Watch memorial in France

May 31 2013

A group of Black Watch soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice 69 years ago will be remembered on Saturday at a ceremony in France. A monument to the six men who were killed on August 28 and 29 in Normandy serving with the 5th Black Watch in the 51st Highland Division will be unveiled by one of their colleagues. Although wounded in the battle, Dr Tom Renouf from Musselburgh survived and he is returning at the invitation of the grateful people of the village of Mauny. In the run-up to his trip to France, Dr Renouf made a last-ditch effort to contact the families of the soldiers who died a quest which met with some success. “To date I have made contact with the families of George Hildred from York and Sergeant Thomas Kirkcaldy from Fife,” Dr Renouf said as he prepared for his trip. “The traces for the families of Major Donald Mirielees, Westminster, and Corporal James O’Keefe, Dover, indicate that the family lines have come to an end.” Given time, Dr Renouf believes he would have traced the family of Harry Billington from Cheshire, but there is one failure that especially pains him. “Above all others I especially wanted to contact the family of my corporal, Harry Chapman,” he said. “Aged 31, he was a survivor of El Alamein and the desert campaign and was an experienced leader. “He had a gentle but firm manner, he was liked and respected by his men because he gave them encouragement and support at all times. When I joined his section he made me feel that I was one of the boys.” Later, after he was wounded, Dr Renouf went to try to help other casualties where to his horror he found Corporal Chapman, who was from Hull, suffering from what was to prove a fatal bullet wound to the head. “When we stopped en route at the second dressing station, the doctor examining my two comrades pronounced they were about to die,” Dr Renouf said. “As I stood by the stretchers paying my last respects the song coming from a radio brought tears to the saddest moment of my war for it was playing J’attendrais, Corporal Chapman’s favourite song. “Knowing the connection it is to be expected that above all else it was the family of Corporal Chapman that I especially wanted to contact. “They should be told that he was a kind, brave man, a much respected leader who gave great service and finally his life for his country.” The niece of George Hildred, who died aged just 19, is making the trip to France to stand alongside Dr Renouf.

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

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

Black Watch men among D-Day portraits to go on display in Perth

May 30 2016

The portraits of 12 D-Day veterans are to go on display in Perth. The images were commissioned by Prince Charles, who is known as the Duke of Rothsay in Scotland. They will form an exhibition entitled The Last of the Tide, which will take place at the Black Watch Castle and Museum from June 4 to November 6. Each portrait has been painted by a different artist, amongst them Jonathan Yeo, James Lloyd and Stuart Pearson Wright. The portraits pay tribute to some of the extraordinary men that played a role in the allied invasion of Normandy and guarantee an artistic record endures of those who fought in Second World War campaign. Nicola Moss, collections assistant at the castle and museum, said: "It is an honour to be able to display the portraits of 12 unique individuals of the D-Day Landings, generously loaned by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection. “Included within these are men with strong links to The Black Watch including Brian Stewart and Tom Renouf and we are truly delighted to have these on display until November." The D Day landings involved some 7,700 ships and 12,000 aircrafts and led to the liberation of German-occupied France. Dr Tom Renouf, who lives in Musselburgh, served in the Black Watch and was part of the Normandy landings. The title of the exhibition comes from General Eisenhower’s message to the troops on the eve of D-Day in which he declared, “The tide has turned! The freemen of the world are marching together to victory.” The 12 veterans featured in the exhibition all served in Regiments with which HRH The Duke of Rothesay and the Duchess of Cornwall have a formal association. HRH, The Duke of Rothesay is Royal Colonel to The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3SCOTS). HRH The Duke of Rothesay wrote in the accompanying catalogue: “I am delighted to introduce this exhibition of portraits of veterans of the D-Day landings and very much hope that all who see it will share my belief that this wonderful collection of paintings captures the spirit, resolve, warmth and humanity of these remarkable men. “It seemed to me a tragedy that there were no portraits of D-Day veterans, hence this collection of remarkable old soldiers from the regiments of which my wife and I are Colonel or Colonel-in-Chief.”

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.


Black Watch author Tom Renouf the man with Himmler’s watch

April 30 2011

Most old soldiers have the odd memento they brought back home from war some quirky reminder of a brush with death, of comradeship in the face of adversity, of the best of times in the midst of the worst of times. It could be a book, a photo, a letter. Tom Renouf has Heinrich Himmler's watch. "When the war ended, a lot of people just wanted to forget. They did remember their fallen comrades but everything else, well, it was a natural reaction to want to put it behind you. For some, the best way to deal with it was as a closed book and keep it that way. But after a while, especially after finishing my working life, I think the perspective changed and I began to look back and think about what the really important years of my life were, what we were part of and what we did." Tom, only a schoolboy when the war broke out in 1939, received his call-up papers four days after his 18th birthday almost the age his own grandchildren are now. He reported to the Queen's Barracks in Perth, home of the 51st Highland Division. It was a body of men which had already played a vital role and would continue to do so throughout the long push against the advance of the Third Reich, from the huge losses sustained in 1940 at St Valery through to the Battle of Normandy, the Liberation of Holland, the Battle of the Bulge, the crossing of the Rhine and the final bloody struggle in the heart of Germany itself. He and his comrades arrived on the Normandy beaches four days after D-Day, to be met by the sight of the dead, of both sides, who had been killed in the initial attack. "We didn't have time to take it in we just had to get moving and get off the beaches as quickly as possible. But I can still see it the way I saw it then. Of course, there was much more to come but we just had to cope. There was no time to grieve. That came later." Tom and his colleagues went into battle in the front line in June at Rauray Ridge as part of the Normandy Campaign. The viciousness and ferocity of the 12-week battle that followed, including shelling of the Allied trenches, left many casualties. It was also utterly terrifying. "We were scared stiff all the time although, in a strange way, I think the anticipation of battle was the worst thing. It was living under a death sentence, with the fear of losing your life ever present. You knew for certain you would be killed or wounded, you just didn't know when. The casualty rate was tremendously high. "Thanks to our wonderful leadership corporals, sergeants, junior officers, senior men who kept us going by example, we kept on, kept going forward, quite literally into the jaws of death. Many of us made it and survived due to those people rising to the occasion. I don't know how we got through personally religious faith, perhaps, duty, pride. I don't know. We just had to do it. There was no choice." That long and fierce battle was one of the events that made the biggest impression on the young soldier. "At the end when we stood down, when we had achieved our final objective, I think many of us had gone beyond our limits there were men like robots, zombies, wandering around broken. That kind of fighting changed you and changed you very quickly, from young untried lads to fighting soldiers to shattered spirits. For many, it took a long time to recover." Continued... Clearing up remaining pockets of German resistance, Tom himself came under machine gun fire and sustained a serious injury. He survived chiefly because the bullet went through him, missing his spine and ribs by a fraction. He was lucky in other ways, too. His enforced convalescence meant he survived when many of his company were killed in subsequent actions. After the battle for Normandy, Tom reckons the move into the Reich itself and the Battle of the Rhineland is the time he recalls most vividly. At Goch, where there was again the most furious fighting, he remembers the swirling smoke, the burned-out houses and ruins, flames, gunfire, bombardment from both sides and says simply, "It was hell. It was how you thought Dante's Inferno would be. "We crossed the Rhine on March 24 and on March 28, I was 20. By then I wondered if I was going to see my birthday. Then we got too busy to think about it. All the boys were the same." Almost as a sideline to the fighting, he mentions briefly coming across the notorious Belsen concentration camp. "We literally saw men in striped pyjamas inside a huge wire fence but we had no idea what it was until one chap beside me in our truck said, 'It's a concentration camp.' I didn't know what that meant. Nobody did until after the war was over. The chap who told me was Jewish and he had heard stories through his family and friends." Field promotion to corporal and then, in 1945, a commission as lieutenant in The Black Watch was accompanied by the award of the Military Medal for his role in the Rhine crossing. Asked for his most vivid recollections of an unforgettable time, it was Normandy and Goch he lit upon. His own injury and considerable personal achievements didn't rate a mention. As to Himmler's watch, he says that, eventually, it will go to the British Museum. After the war, he notes in the final page of his book, "I felt reborn. And I vowed I would live a proper life from that moment onwards. I would never waste a minute. I would make full use of the time that lay ahead of me." So why the book, and why now? He explains, "It's never been just my story. All veterans could write a book of their own. With time, so much experience is lost, so much that is terribly important and vital and giving people an insight is all we can now do. "There now aren't enough of us to organise any more veterans' reunions but those of us that are left can still tell the story of why these reunions happened and what they meant. We played a little part in huge historical events. "I'm proud to have served in The Black Watch."Black Watch by Tom Renouf is published in hardback by Little Brown.Tom bought it from a fellow soldier for 300 fags after his battalion captured the former Gestapo and SS leader without, at first, realising who he was in May of 1945. And he has it still at his home in the Scottish seaside town of Musselburgh. The broadcaster Edi Stark recently interviewed Tom for her BBC Scotland radio show and said she couldn't bear to touch the watch, it being something that had belonged to one of the most evil and destructive men the world has ever known. Yet it is far from the most important element of Tom Renouf's war. A much stronger and equally long-lasting legacy has been his memories of his time in the army, of the bravery, the fear, the misery and the strength he and his comrades found in themselves and in others. These memories, and Tom's reflections after so many years, are brought together in his new book, Black Watch. Towards the end of his compelling account of his time in the 51st Highland Division, in some of the toughest arenas of world war two, he writes of the Himmler episode: "At the time, we were not particularly interested when we learned the identity of our famous prisoner. And we were even less bothered when we heard of his death. He had it coming, we reckoned. We were much more concerned about the pals we had lost since D-Day." Of course, Tom realised perfectly well then and now that what he and his comrades had lived through were some of the most momentous events of their era of any era. But it would take almost seven decades for him to put his thoughts down on paper and when you read what he has to say, it's hardly surprising. "I always intended to write it down, I just never had the time. Over 20-25 years, after I retired, I was so involved with the Highland Division Veterans Association, its regular gatherings and pilgrimages abroad, its reunions including three in Perth to mark VE Day, El Alamein and the end of the war that my time was completely taken up." It also needed time and distance to put that tale into perspective, to want to tell it. Anyone whose parents, grandparents or relatives served in the war tends to say the same "They never talked about it." Tom Renouf admits he was the same, taking time also to get over nightmares and night terrors that took him back to the battlefield long after he had returned to civilian life. Continued...

Perth & Kinross

Bronze Perth piper is lasting tribute to Scots war heroes

June 22 2017

A poignant memorial to Highland war heroes has been unveiled in Perth. The larger-than-life bronze piper was created to honour the tens of thousands of soldiers from the 51st Highland Division. It was officially unveiled in the grounds of Balhousie Castle - home to the Black Watch museum - at a ceremony on Wednesday. The piper in World War Two battledress was sculpted by well-known artist Alan Herriot. It was the idea of Mr Herriot's close friend, Black Watch veteran Dr Tom Renouf, who died last year. For many years, Tom worked to ensure the achievements of the infantry division were not forgotten. He was involved in the creation of monuments in France and Holland, as well as at North Inch in Perth and the House of Bruar in Highland Perthshire. Mr Herriot said: "I have created a number of memorials in Scotland and abroad, all dedicated to the memory of those who served in the division. "The memorial at Balhousie Castle may well be the last, but I consider it to be my personal tribute to the 51st Highland Division and my friend Dr Tom Renouf." As a fighting formation, the 51st Highland Division served during both world wars. The division was formed by the bringing together of the kilted Highland infantry regiments including the Black Watch, Cameron Highlanders, the Seaforth Highlanders, Gordon Highlanders and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Anne Kinnes, chief executive of the Black Watch Castle and Museum said: "We are delighted to have this magnificent statue in the grounds of Balhousie Castle for our many visitors to enjoy." Lieutenant Colonel Grenville Johnston served in the division after World War Two and is now a member 51st Highland Division trustee. He said: "Today there are a series of magnificent memorials that stand as a testament to the courage of the men of the 51st Highland Division who fought for our freedom. "I am particularly proud that this statue has been unveiled in Perth." Mr Herriot worked on a clay model of the piper at his studio in Edinburgh. It was later cast at the city's Powderhall Bronze Foundry.