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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...

Angus & The Mearns

Argentine family ‘deeply grateful’ after Arbroath marine sends Battle of Two Sisters relic back where it belongs

October 30 2015

The identity tag of a fallen Argentine soldier that lay in a former Angus Marine’s drawer for 33 years has been returned to his family. Graham Ellis, from Kirkton of Auchterhouse, removed the tag from the body of Assistant Sergeant Ramon Gumersindo Acosta on the battlefield in the Falkland Islands in 1982. Acosta was killed by a mortar blast following the Battle of Two Sisters, which took place over two days in June as British forces advanced toward Port Stanley. A 20-year-old member of Arbroath-based 45 Commando at the time, Mr Ellis and his unit were ordered to remove the tags from the dead bodies for identification by the Red Cross. Mr Ellis placed the tag in his pocket and only discovered it on his return to Britain. It remained in a drawer until a comrade of Mr Acosta’s saw an article on this website about Mr Ellis’s attempts to return it to the fallen soldier’s family. It was sent back to Argentina and is now with his daughter, with plans for a formal presentation by the Argentine government to take place in the near future. Mr Ellis said he was “very pleased”, while a former comrade of Mr Acosta said the family were “deeply grateful” to Mr Ellis and The Courier. Acosta was a national hero and a street bears his name in his native town of Jess Mara. He had written a letter to his five-year-old son, Diego, eight days before he died. It read: “I write from my position to tell you that two days ago we were in a helicopter which was bombed, the helicopter fell and caught fire, killing several colleagues of mine but I was saved and am now awaiting the final attack. “I saved three comrades from the flames. I tell you so you know you have a father you can be proud of and want you to keep this letter as a document if I do not return: and if I go back tomorrow, when we’re together I will read it at home.”

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

Blazing Saddles

Smile – you’re on camera

November 19 2016

“Dad, can we make a YouTube cycling video?” My son Tavish had spotted a helmet camera of mine among my pile of cycling kit and suddenly in a moment of inspiration had scribbled out a draft plan of how his “movie” would look. To be fair it wasn’t a spur of the moment request; he has been watching videos by others online for several years now and has harboured the desire to become an auteur for just as long. On the morning of his directorial debut we kitted out our packs, loaded the bikes on the roof of the car and drove over to the Sidlaws at the back of Dundee. I can’t remember why I had bought the camera in the first place, but this was going to be one of the few times I had actually used it. The first problem was I couldn’t remember how to set it up and switch it. Thankfully Tavish, obviously taking after his mum rather than me, had actually read the instruction manual and was able to show me how it was done. We then spent the next few hours riding around the trails of Balluderon, Balkello and Auchterhouse Hill. By the time we arrived back at the car we had only cycled just over five miles and taken nearly two hours to do so, but we were muddy, tired and buzzing after a great morning out together. On the drive home Tavish was already planning the next film we were going to make together. He was trying to figure out if he had enough money in his piggy-bank to buy a drone from his to get some aerial footage and he had decided we hadn’t got any footage of jumps and that was vital to the success of his next project. Quite whether his enthusiasm came from the process of filming, the result, or indeed the equipment that he had been allowed to use I wasn’t sure, but that wasn’t really the point of what we had done. He is immensely proud of the short film we made together and he told me that he was keen to show his friends how much fun cycling could be. Indeed the following week at school he had to plan a short presentation on a subject of his choice that he would then deliver to the rest of his class. He chose cycling and in his planning notes, among comments about Danny McAskill, wheelies and skidding, he wrote, “…unlike football and pitch sports cycling lets you explore your environment”. For a young person that sense of exploration can be a revelation and once the bug is caught it stays with you for life.   Where to Ride? Auchterhouse Hill - Sidlaws Suitable for? Mountain bikes on shared-use paths and trails Distance: 5 miles Start: OS Landranger 1:50000 Map 54 Balkello Car Park NO365384 Description Just east of the Kirkton of Auchterhouse there is a large car park that provides access to these eastern-most tops of the Sidlaws. There are a number of trails that lead up to Auchterhouse, but perhaps the most direct is to follow the paths north to the power lines and then follow a track steeply up towards the lower quarry on the slopes of Balluderon Hill. Follow this west until you reach a small gate that will lead you uphill to the hill fort and summit of Auchterhouse Hill. The views from the top are fantastic with a panorama to the north of the southern Cairngorms and of the River Tay and Dundee to the south. You can return the way you came, or there are more tracks to explore over towards Kinpurney Hill, or some mountain bike specific single tracks around the quarry back on Balluderon Hill

Angus & The Mearns

Kirkton of Auchterhouse family devastated by order to remove caravan

March 9 2011

An Angus woman has been left distraught by a council decision ordering the removal of a residential caravan in her Sidlaws garden which is home to her disabled mother. In a situation that has split Kirkton of Auchterhouse, Carina Roberts has been given six months to move the caravan by councillors who expressed sympathy with her plight but said they could not let it override planning policy. On Tuesday night a tearful Mrs Roberts said she did not know where to turn after spending her savings on altering her home and the caravan in an effort to hold her family unit together. Originally from Holland, she has been a resident of the Angus hamlet for almost a decade and was given the caravan last year after her disabled brother and 64-year-old mother Dina Lams came to live with her. "We extended our house so my brother Zen could stay with us but he has never lived apart from my mother and she cannot get far without assistance so we could not leave her in Holland," Mrs Roberts said. "We got the caravan and my mother stays there but comes over to our home for meals and showering facilities." She told a meeting of Angus Council's development standards committee in Forfar that she had contacted the authority to ask about siting the caravan in the garden and was told it was OK. However, a planning application to link the caravan toilet to the house's drainage system led to a refusal recommendation by officials and on Tuesday councillors agreed the set-up was a clear breach of policy that could not be ignored. Auchterhouse Community Council also objected on the grounds of amenity impact and agreed with the council line that it could set an unacceptable precedent. "I don't know what to do and I do not know if we can appeal," said Mrs Roberts, whose autistic son Harvey was five on Tuesday a day when she said there was little cause for celebration. "We thought this was the best way to do things. All we wanted was to keep the family together, we are all about family and we just want to live quietly together. "I don't know what we will do. Will we have to put my mum on the couch, or would the council rather spend thousands of pounds rehousing people and giving them care?" Councillors sympathised with the family's situation and convener David Lumgair even led a failed bid to extend the caravan removal period to a year after the committee voted 7-3 to stick to the suggested six-month time limit.

Angus & The Mearns

Fallen Argentinian hero’s name tag to be returned to his grateful family

July 25 2015

He removed the identity tag from an enemy soldier on the battle field in the Falkland Islands 33 years ago. Since then it has remained in his drawer at home but now an Angus veteran of the conflict will finally send the symbolic tag back to the fallen man’s family in Argentina. Graham Ellis, from Kirkton of Auchterhouse, on the outskirts of Dundee, removed the tag from Assistant Sergeant Ramon Gumersindo Acosta after he was killed by a mortar blast following the Battle of Two Sisters in June 1982. A 20-year-old member of Arbroath-based 45 Commando at the time, Mr Ellis and his unit had been ordered to remove the tags from the bodies of dead Argentine soldiers for identification by the Red Cross. When his patrol came under attack, he placed the identity tag of Sgt Acosta in his pocket and only discovered it on his return to Britain. Mr Ellis told The Courier in 2012 that he had hoped to be able to return the tag to mark the 30th anniversary of the conflict but it remained in his drawer. However, Jose Martin Ostuvald, who was a comrade of Sgt Acosta’s, got in touch with The Courier after coming across our story online and asked to make contact on behalf of the family. Now the tag will finally leave Scotland and be returned to Argentina to the family of Sgt Acosta who was a national hero in his homeland. In his native town of Jess Mara in the province of Crdoba, there is a street that bears his name. Mr Ellis said he has nothing but admiration for the man whose tag he possesses. He said: “While it is of no intrinsic value it is very symbolic. I look forward to returning it to Sgt Acosta’s family.” The Battle of Two Sisters took place over two days in June as British forces advanced towards Port Stanley, the capital of the Falklands. Despite holding superior positions over 45 Commando, the largely-conscript Argentine troops were heavily outnumbered. Mr Ostuvald said: “Ramn Gumersindo Acosta was an outstanding member of the National Gendarmerie Argentina. “By its action in the Falklands War he received the Medal Killed in Combat. “For all families of fallen soldiers at war, retrieving items that belonged to them is an act of high sentimental value. “His family and all his comrades of the National Gendarmerie Argentina deeply wished it to be returned. “We are very grateful to Mr Ellis.”

Angus & The Mearns

Kirkton of Auchterhouse family told caravan has to go

July 19 2011

A family have lost their bid to keep an 11m caravan in their cottage garden. The caravan has been used by Dina Lams since she came to Scotland with her son Zen to live with her daughter Carina Roberts at Kirkton of Auchterhouse, north-west of Dundee. Angus Council ruled it had to be removed because it was in breach of planning laws. The family took their case to the Scottish Government's planning appeals unit, with their lawyers saying there was not enough room in the cottage for Ms Lams. But they have now learned that the council's decision has been upheld by appeals reporter Ronald Jackson. He said the caravan was "very substantial" and had been connected to the cottage's water and electricity services. A timber ramp had also been built for access. "I have no hesitation in concluding that the siting of the caravan in this location is intended to be of long-term duration," Mr Jackson reported. That meant there had been a change of use of the site, from garden ground to a residence a "clear breach" of planning controls. He added, "The caravan is only some two metres or thereby from the boundary fence of the neighbouring property. It sits above ground level and has windows overlooking the rear garden of that property." Mr Jackson's decision restarts the enforcement action, giving the family six months to remove the caravan. A tearful Mrs Roberts had previously told The Courier how having to remove the caravan would destroy her hopes of keeping the family together.


Police investigate theft from roadworks near Dundee

March 22 2018

Police are appealing for information about a theft at a set of roadworks north of Dundee. The incident happebed between 12.30pm and 1pm on March 21 at the roadworks at the Kirkton of Tealing crossroads, which involve the Tealing - Auchterhouse Road and its junction with Emmock Road. A breaker attachment has been stolen from an excavator parked at the site. A police spokesman said: “This is a very large and heavy item, which would have needed at least two persons to move it, and a van or truck of some kind to transport it away.” Anyone with information should call 101, speak with any police officer or call  Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111. The reference is CR/6689/18.


‘The time is right’ Falklands veteran on quest to return fallen enemy’s identity tag

April 21 2012

Thirty years after the conflict ended, an Angus veteran of the Falklands War has stated his intention to return a identity tag taken from the body of a fallen Argentine soldier. Graham Ellis (50), from Kirkton of Auchterhouse, removed the tag from Assistant Sergeant Ramon Gumersindo Acosta following the Battle of Two Sisters in June 1982. A 20-year-old member of Arbroath-based 45 Commando at the time, Mr Ellis and his unit had been ordered to remove the tags from the bodies of dead Argentine soldiers for identification by the Red Cross. When his patrol came under attack, he placed the identity tag of the Sgt Acosta in his pocket and only discovered it on his return to Britain. Now, as the country commemorates the 30th anniversary of the conflict, Mr Ellis plans to return the tag to the Argentine government in the hope that it will be passed on to Mr Acosta's family. ''One dog tag stays with the body while the other is handed in to the authorities,'' he said. ''While it is of no intrinsic value it is very symbolic. ''It is quite a personal thing and the time is right for it to go back to his family. I just feel that by returning it I would be doing the right thing.'' Having conducted an internet search, Mr Ellis was surprised to learn Sgt Acosta had been a member of an elite unit of troops equivalent to Britain's SAS. He had been honoured posthumously by the government of Argentina and declared a national hero for his actions in battle. The Battle of Two Sisters took place over two days in June as British forces advanced towards Port Stanley, the capital of the Falklands. Despite holding superior positions over 45 Commando, the largely-conscript Argentine troops were heavily outnumbered and suffering from low morale. Though he may have been an enemy on the battlefield, Mr Ellis admits he has nothing but admiration for the man whose tag he possesses. ''He had been killed by either mortar or an artillery wound,'' Mr Ellis added. ''I have a great degree of respect for this man for staying and fighting. ''Even way back then I knew he was obviously a professional and not like the young conscripts who ran away.''

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.