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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

Politicians join forces in bid to discover if UK can change mind over Brexit

November 30 2017

Green MSPs have united with MEPs from Labour and the SNP in a bid to discover if the UK can legally change its mind on Brexit and stay part of the European Union. The four politicians – Greens Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, together with the SNP’s Alyn Smith and David Martin of Labour – are seeking to find out if the UK can unilaterally revoke the Article 50 letter. That was submitted by Theresa May in March this year, formally marking the start of Britain’s two-year withdrawal process from the EU. But the four politicians are seeking to petition the Court of Session in Edinburgh, urging judges there to refer the matter on to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. A crowdfunding appeal has been launched to cover the legal costs, with the group seeking to raise £50,000 by December 29. Within 12 hours of the appeal going live, they had raised almost £10,000. In a letter sent to Brexit Secretary David Davis and Lord Keen QC, the Advocate General for Scotland, the politicians insist that the UK Government’s interpretation of Article 50 is “wrong as a matter of law”. It argues that if Article 50 is “properly interpreted as a matter of EU law and public international law, the Article 50 notification by any member state may in fact unilaterally be withdrawn by the member state at any point within the two year period”. Jo Maugham QC, a leading lawyer involved in the case said the “key thing to recognise is contrary to what Theresa May said the die was not cast on March 29 2017” when the UK’s Article 50 letter was submitted. He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland the case was seeking to make clear that the UK does not require the consent of the other 27 European member states to pull out of the Brexit process. Mr Maugham said: “We seek to say that Article 50 can be revoked, the notice can be withdrawn, without needing permission. “That’s a question that only the Court of Justice in Luxembourg can answer and so this group of cross party MSPs and MEPs have got together to bring a case in the court of session to seek to persuade that court to refer this questions to Luxembourg.” He added: “The question of whether it can be unilaterally revoked is not one that has a definitive answer and it won’t have a definitive answer until the Court of Justice, which is the only decision maker, speaks upon that question.” The lawyer also stated the Brexit referendum in June 2016 was only an advisory vote, and the UK Parliament did not need to be bound by the result of the ballot.

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Man’s attack caused partner to black out

December 3 2015

An Angus man who grabbed his partner by the throat to the point she blacked out has avoided a jail sentence. Andrew Hutcheson’s victim later woke up with the accused sleeping beside her after a drinking session turned to anger and violence, Forfar Sheriff Court heard. A positive social work report helped the 38-year-old avoid a custodial sentence. However, he still has other matters hanging over his head and has been warned by a sheriff that prison remains a possibility if he steps out of line. Hutcheson, of Erskine Street, Montrose, admitted assaulting his partner at a house in Montrose on April 21 or 22, grabbing her by the throat with pressure and causing her to black out. He also admitted behaving in a threatening or abusive manner at the same property on May 14. Depute fiscal Jim Eodonable said the couple had been in a relationship for around four years and were drinking and in good spirits on the night of the assault offence. “He (Hutcheson) continued drinking and essentially became abusive towards the complainer, questioning her fidelity. “The complainer remembers being assaulted and being held in the way described, and then woke up some time later with the accused asleep beside her.” The court heard the later charge arose after Hutcheson turned up at the house under the influence and was again disparaging towards the woman. Defence solicitor Billy Rennie said Hutcheson had a number of matters before the court and was made the subject of a community payback order in October, as well as having spent two periods on remand in relation to his offences. Sheriff Pino Di Emidio noted there were six matters in total before the court, the most serious being the assault offence. He said: “Whilst I detect a slowing down in the problems which have brought you before the court repeatedly in recent months, you run the risk of a significant term of imprisonment if you come back before the court.” He imposed a two-year CPO for the assault offence, including supervision and programme requirements, as well as 60 hours of unpaid work. Deferring sentence on other matters for three months, the sheriff warned Hutcheson: “What happens will very much depend on the intervening period and I sincerely hope the court will be able to deal with those without having to imprison you.”

Angus & The Mearns

Unanimous guilty verdict in St Cyrus man’s assault trial

October 28 2015

A St Cyrus man has been found guilty of assaulting another man in an Angus residential area. Kevin Hutcheon attacked Mariusz Skrzypkowsky on Castle Street, Montrose, last year, chasing after him and placing his hands around the man’s neck while he was on the ground. Following a two-day trial, it took a jury of eight women and seven men less than 40 minutes to return a unanimous guilty verdict at Forfar Sheriff Court. The 29-year-old initially appeared on an indictment alleging that he choked Mr Skrzypkowsky to his injury on the afternoon of August 6, although the Crown amended the charge during the hearing. The Crown dropped proceedings against co-accused Martin Hutchison, and a charge of forcing entry to Mr Skrzypkowsky’s home in New Wynd and assaulting him on August 5, which both men also denied. The court yesterday heard evidence from Gwen Wakeling, who lived metres away from the assault. “I could hear shouting and running outside,” she said. “One guy was lying on the pavement, two other guys were standing. “One was bent over and the other guy was curled up on the ground. “All I can remember is him saying something about being a grass.” Ms Wakeling said she shouted at the men and pointed at her phone “as if I was going to call the police”. She added Hutcheon, of Davidson Place, made a “shush” motion with his finger before the men fled. The court previously heard evidence from Paul Rae, a near neighbour who described a disturbance. He said: “I could see three gentlemen, one lying on the ground, another on top of him and another on the other side of the road.” Hutcheon, who was represented by solicitor Sarah Russo, will return for sentencing on November 18. Depute fiscal Joanne Smith said: “Your lordship will see that there are convictions for violence and assault, both at summary and indictment level.” Sheriff Gregor Murray granted Hutcheon bail, although he is serving a sentence for a previous offence.

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

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.

Scotland

Parliamentarians plan appeal as they seek European court ruling on Brexit

February 9 2018

A group of parliamentarians plans to lodge a legal appeal in an attempt to secure a European court ruling on Brexit. The politicians believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally stop the UK leaving the EU if the final Brexit deal is deemed unacceptable by the Commons. They want a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 can be halted by the UK on its own, without prior consent of the other 27 EU member states. The group took its fight to the Court of Session in Edinburgh but on Tuesday Judge Lord Doherty turned down a bid to have a full hearing on whether to refer the question to the Luxembourg Court, ruling the issue is  “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”. Now campaigners have announced plans to appeal against his ruling to the Inner House of the Court of Session. Two of the original group of seven have withdrawn – the SNP’s Joanna Cherry QC and Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine – while director of the Good Law Project, Jo Maugham QC, which has backed the crowdfunded legal action, has been added. The remaining five members are Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, SNP MEP Alyn Smith and Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler. In a statement, Mr Maugham said they believe the judge’s decision was “flawed”. He added: “Establishing that, alongside the political route to revocability there is a legal route, is vital in the national interest. “If Parliament chooses not to withdraw the Article 50 notice then no harm is done by asking now the question whether it has that right. “But if Parliament does come to want to withdraw the notice, knowing it has the right to do so serves the national interest. “It improves the bargaining position of the UK, it ensures we retain the opt-outs and rebates that we presently enjoy, and it places the decision entirely in the hands of the UK’s Parliament and – if it chooses – its people.” Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the politicians, previously asked for the case to proceed through the Scottish court, arguing there was a genuine dispute between the two sides as to the proper interpretation of Article 50 which the court required to resolve. David Johnston QC, for the UK Government, insisted the application has no real prospect of success and that there was “no live issue” for the court to address. The policy of the UK Government is that the notification under Article 50 will not be withdrawn, he said. Finding in favour of the Government, Lord Doherty said: “Given that neither Parliament nor the Government has any wish to withdraw the notification, the central issue which the petitioners ask the court to decide – whether the UK could unilaterally withdraw the Article 50(2) notification – is hypothetical and academic. “In those circumstances it is not a matter which this court, or the CJEU, require to adjudicate upon.”

Perth & Kinross

‘It’s given me my life back’ James receives the gift of life

December 30 2014

A Perth man is celebrating his first festive season since a mystery donor gave him the gift of life. James Hutcheson’s life was saved when he received a rare donation of a kidney from a so-called altruistic donor who gave up the organ without having any knowledge of where it might go. The unexpected present allowed the 41-year-old to turn his life around after three years on dialysis. James has no idea who was behind the selfless gift but says he will be eternally grateful to them. “I just want to thank them for the difference it’s made to my life,” he said. “I know nothing about the donor you don’t get told anything about the person donating the kidney. I’m very grateful because it’s meant a great change in my life from being on dialysis every second day. “I was on it for three years. It was acting as my kidney and cleaning my blood out. This is the first Christmas in a while that I’ve had my health.” James’ kidneys began to fail as a result of high blood pressure and for three years he was dependant on a machine to clear his blood of waste. He said the donated organ had given him a new lease of life since his operation in March, enabling him to take a job as a joiner and to adopt a new companion, weimaraner puppy Misty. James said: “It’s given me my life back. I am back working and I’ve got a dog and can go out walking her whereas before the dialysis left me too tired. “I couldn’t do anything much because afterwards I was just coming home and going to sleep. “It allowed me to enjoy Christmas more and be with my family. I still have to be on a special diet no salty foods and no drinking. “I enjoy taking Misty for walks it’s a bit of freedom and fresh air and exercise. It’s the sort of freedom I never had when I was hooked up to a machine. “I’d say that anyone who is thinking about donating a kidney should go ahead and do it, because you can get by with one kidney but it makes such a difference to people like me.” Earlier this week The Courier told of a Tayside man who celebrated his 26th Christmas with transplanted kidneys. David Officer, 68, a farmer from near Montrose, had a successful operation on Burns Night 1988 after both his kidneys failed. The longevity of the donated organs means David’s operation is among the most successful transplants ever to take place in Scotland.

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