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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


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

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.

Perth & Kinross

Highland Perthshire businessman backs emergency response scheme

October 16 2017

An army of volunteers who own boats and 4x4s are offering to assist the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) in an emergency. Members of rural communities who have access to private vehicles that can be used to cross water or negotiate rough and rural terrain have signed up to a Community Asset Register (CAR). They may also have specialist skills such as mountain rescue. A Highland Perthshire business owner is among the first to pledge his support to the scheme which has just been launched. David Fox-Pitt, owner of outdoor adventure company Wildfox Events which operates from Kindrochit on Loch Tay, owns an impressive array of equipment. It includes off-road vehicles such as a Unimog, a motor boat, large event marquees, generators and outdoor lighting, all of which can be used to aid the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and emergency services. “Supporting my local community has always been something that was important to me,” said Mr Fox-Pitt, 52. “This idea of community resilience in the midst of emergency situations was something which I was very keen to discuss when I was chairman of the local community council. “As a business owner, we are kept busy, especially in the summer months when we do have several, large scale annual events such as the Glencoe Marathon. “However it is clear to us that the equipment which we have at our disposal has the potential to do a lot of good in helping our emergency services.” As an organiser of challenging outdoor sporting events with years of experience from hiking and travelling across the world, MrFox-Pitt has a keen appreciation for the power of the weather and he highlights severe flooding as an example of the type of incident in which he could help. He said: “The Unimog has a very high ground clearance and can wade through deep water. We also have a motorised boat." Volunteers who wish to offer their support to the scheme should go to SFRS.CommunityAssetRegister@firescotland.gov.uk

UK & World

Fairy goddaughters, twins and future king among bridesmaids and pageboys

May 16 2018

Here’s a look at the bridemaids and pageboys chosen by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle:Bridesmaids:Princess Charlotte of CambridgeThe middle child and only daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge has made a name for herself for her royal confidence despite being just three years old.It was Charlotte – Harry’s niece – who led the way into the Lindo Wing to meet new baby brother Prince Louis, giving a regal wave as she went.Her parents have told how the fourth in line to the throne rules the roost, saying she is “very sweet” but also feisty.Florence van CutsemThree-year-old Florence is Prince Harry’s goddaughter, and the daughter of his long-standing family friend Major Nicholas van Cutsem and Alice van Cutsem.Major van Cutsem, a major with the Household Cavalry’s Life Guards, has been a friend of Harry and William’s since childhood.Remi LittRemi Litt is the six-year-old daughter of Ms Markle’s close friend Benita Litt and her husband Darren Litt.Ms Markle is Remi’s godmother and in a since deleted Instagram post, the actress shared a picture of herself with the family – including her two “fairy god-daughters” – showing them happily posing in front of a Christmas tree after spending the holidays together in 2016.Benita runs her own brand agency under her name where she helps others to start businesses.Rylan LittMs Markle’s other goddaughter is seven years old and Benita Litt’s oldest child.Ivy MulroneyIvy is the four-year-old youngest child of Meghan’s stylist and best friend Jessica Mulroney.The youngster’s name is actually Isabel Veronica but she is nicknamed Ivy.Jessica Mulroney runs a bridal store in Toronto, where Meghan used to film Suits, and is said to have helped the bride choose her wedding gown.She is married to Ben Mulroney – son of former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney.Zalie WarrenZalie is the youngest of the bridesmaids at just two years old.She is another of Harry’s goddaughters and the daughter of one of his best friends, Jake Warren and Mr Warren’s wife Zoe.The Warren family are closely connected to the royals through horse-racing. Jake’s father John Warren is the Queen’s racing manager.The father-and-son team run Highclere Stud in Newbury together.Page boys:Prince George of CambridgePrince George, who is four, is third in line to the throne and a future king.William and Kate’s eldest child is said to be shyer than his younger sister Charlotte, and the duke has told how his son loves helicopters, flying and is obsessed with all things police-related.Like Charlotte, George is rarely seen in public. The duke and duchess try to ensure their children are protected from media intrusion.But the pair have appeared at key royal events such as the annual Trooping the Colour parade, and have joined William and Kate on official overseas tours.Jasper DyerSix-year-old Jasper Dyer is also a godson of Harry’s and the son of his trusted mentor Mark Dyer and Mr Dyer’s wife Amanda.Former Welsh Guards office Mr Dyer has been a key father figure to the prince since childhood.A former equerry to the Prince of Wales, he was entrusted by Charles to keep an eye on Harry.The pair travelled together in Harry’s gap year and he inspired the prince’s charity work in Lesotho, southern Africa, after arranging Harry’s first ever stay in the country. Brian and John MulroneyThe fraternal twin sons of Jessica and Ben Mulroney are seven years old – and older siblings to Ivy Mulroney.In an interview with thestar.com in 2014, Mrs Mulroney described how the boys were best friends.“Ben was at the MMVAs (iHeartRadio Much Music Video Awards) and John did something really sweet,” she said. “He hugged Brian from behind and said, ‘Brian, you make me great’. ”The article described the children, who had two nannies, as “incredibly well-behaved”.

Angus & The Mearns

Gingerbread tribute to the Wee Red Town

October 14 2013

When Libby Jones was invited by Bank Street Gallery owner Susie Clark to exhibit at her gallery in Kirriemuir, she became intrigued by the history of the town. As well as Kirriemuir’s most famous son and Peter Pan author JM Barrie, she discovered the town had also been home for a time to AC/DC singer Bon Scott, Victorian mountaineer Hugh Munro, and 19th century writer Violet Jacob. She found the town had been a hotbed of witchcraft in the 16th century and is also world famous for its gingerbread and decided to combine all these elements. Ms Jones went on to craft a boxed set of prints, which also doubles as a card game. She said: “This tongue-in-cheek edition of 10 boxes, of 20 cards per box, features Kirriemuir characters presented on a slice of gingerbread on a plate. I have also made a poster featuring all the 10 characters in the game.” Visitors can see images of Edinburgh Castle with fireworks, wildlife such as gannets, and artwork made after a visit to Antarctica. Londoner and master printmaker Ms Jones exhibited work from her sub-zero stay at a Discovery Point exhibition in Dundee last year. Children can see her work Cooking the Climate, a comment on global warming, which consists of a microwave oven and slideshow with rotating polar animals. There is also a fossilised mobile phone in a second installation, Fossils of the Anthropocene an exploration of the traces that might remain of civilisation in 50 million years’ time. She is also exhibiting a selection of her woodcuts, linocuts, collagraphs and screenprints at the gallery. The exhibition runs until November 8 and opening hours can be found on www.bankstreetgallery.org, or by telephoning 01575 570070.

Angus & The Mearns

Thief drank milk from staff fridge while stealing handbags from Forfar retirement home

February 19 2016

An Angus thief helped himself to milk from the office fridge when he took handbags from a retirement home, a court heard. William Smith from Arbroath was seen “swigging” a pint as he left Kirkriggs Court in Forfar last month, on a day where he also kicked a blind woman’s door and swapped his phone for that of another resident. The 30-year-old appeared from custody at Forfar Sheriff Court and admitted stealing from the home and taking a phone and medication from the Forfar address, and committing two breaches of the peace on January 19. All offences were committed while on bail. Fiscal depute Jill Drummond said Smith was stopped from entering a property in Newmonthill, Forfar, at 7.10am by the occupant’s teenage son, who said: “Mum, quick, there is someone coming in the door.” After banging on the door, Smith entered Kirkriggs Court through a back entrance. Ms Drummond said a member of staff had left her bag in the office and “returned to see the accused leaving with two bags and swigging from a jug of milk.” Smith was challenged and police were phoned, but he left over a fence before they arrived. The staff fridge was missing a pint of milk. At Lyninghills in Forfar the householder opened the door and let Smith in for a glass of water and to use the bathroom, although he did not know him. Later, he discovered his medication box missing from the kitchen and noticed his mobile phone was “different”. Ms Drummond said: “He then suspected the accused had taken his phone and left his in its place.” An 88-year-old resident of Provost Buchan Road, Brechin, who is registered blind, opened her door to Smith as she was expecting someone else. She told him to leave but rang police after he kicked her door. Ms Drummond said a nearby resident also opened the door to Smith, and was offered “£100 in food products”. Smith, of Russell Square, was arrested the next morning. Solicitor Billy Rennie said his client was remorseful for the offences “particularly the elderly complainer”, and had a “realistic view” of his disposal. “His report shows indications of hope for change, and insight,” he added. Sheriff Gregor Murray sentenced Smith to a total of 68 weeks in custody, including 40 weeks for an unexpired sentence.

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

Bright sunshine, gruelling challenges and a mountain-top proposal in Highland Perthshire

July 10 2017

One of Scotland’s most gruelling outdoor competitions pushed entrants to their limits on Saturday. Nearly 300 hardy souls took part in the 17th annual Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon. Stunning weather made for a truly memorable day but also posed its own challenges as they tested themselves against a 1.35km swim across Loch Tay and a 24km run over seven peaks. If climbing 2,500 metres was not enough, they then had to undertake an 11km kayak crossing and a 54km bike ride in breathtaking Highland Perthshire. This year’s winners, Drew Sharkey and Stuart Macleod, smashed the previous record by an incredible half-an-hour, completing the course in 7 hours and 37 minutes. Close behind were the pair’s rivals, Sean McFarlane and Andy Gray. Sean won the 2016 event alongside Drew. Amidst all the exertion, there was also romance as Euan Bell and Tessa Birley got engaged on the top of Munro number seven. The fastest ladies team were Lydia Ashby and Alice Parsons, who finished in 12 hours 46 minutes, while quickest mixed team were local residents David and Jennifer Gane in 11 hours and four minutes. David Fox-Pitt, founder of WildFox Events, said: “Quadrathletes this year saw Scotland at its very best with participants enjoying spectacular panoramic views of the Highlands as they tackled the course. The event hopes to raise around £150,000, which will be split between the event’s charity partners, Mercy Corps and Mary’s Meals.