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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...


Mini-maestro Lachlan steals show on Caird Hall debut

December 19 2011

Not many people get the chance to conduct an orchestra, but thanks to The Courier one little boy did. Behind him a packed hall, the expectant audience eager for the music to begin. In front of him, the serried ranks of the musicians, gazing at him on the podium in poised concentration as they await his command. The maestro raises his baton, strikes the first beat....and the sound of Jingle Bells fills the Caird Hall in Dundee. That was eight-year-old Lachlan Latto's introduction to the joys of conducting an orchestra, courtesy of The Courier's Money Can't Buy competition. His prize was to preside over the first encore at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra's Christmas concert in front of an audience almost 1,800-strong. Lachlan, a pupil at Barnhill Primary, was in charge of 77 professional musicians and the children's chorus. The main conductor, Christopher Bell, made sure his young protege had a chance to practice his baton technique before taking to the stage in front of his delighted family. The Lattos had been planning to attend the concert anyway, and when dad Steven won the contest he decided to pass on the chance to conduct to his son. To make sure Lachlan looked the part, The Courier arranged for him to receive his own baton. Sam Stone from the RSNO explained to him: ''It's like a magic wand. The orchestra have to obey everything you say.'' Was eight too young for such a challenge? Sam did not think so, saying: ''We are always on the lookout for new talent.'' Lachlan's proud mum Kirstie said: ''We had a wee practice at teatime. We were told no experience was needed.'' Lachlan was able to watch the end of the orchestra's warm-up session before he was greeted by Christopher, who told him: ''The show can't go on without you.'' Maestro, mini-maestro and mum disappeared off to the dressing room for some ''complex discussions'' on the art of conducting. Lachlan and his family then took their seats to enjoy a concert full of favourite festive melodies and singalong carols before Christopher introduced him on stage for his moment of glory, conducting Jingle Bells, which was composed in the 1850s. Afterward Lachlan said: ''I was a bit nervous, it was really scary. It was good when I was facing the musicians but it was scary when I turned round because I was facing the audience, but I enjoyed it.'' Mum Kirstie added: ''He said his heart was beating fast but it was really nice, he did well.''


Dundee child abuser who made online confession dodges jail term

January 19 2018

A child abuser whose hidden victim was found after police raided his home looking for child abuse images – and found online sex chats in which he admitted the attack – has dodged a jail term. Douglas Latto’s victim had kept quiet for more than five years and might never have revealed the incident if officers had not found chat logs on the 25-year-old’s computer. Latto, 25, of Park Avenue, Dundee, pleaded guilty to possessing indecent images of children between January 26 2010 and November 12 2016 and using lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour towards a boy aged nine or 10 at an address in north-east Fife between January 9 2010 and July 10 2011. Police raided his home near Dundee’s Baxter Park last November on suspicion that he was in possession of indecent images of children. Officers found exactly that – as well as an online confession by Latto of a sex act committed towards the boy. Depute fiscal Charmaine Gilmartin told Dundee Sheriff Court around 300 indecent images – 100 at each level of the three-tier scale used to assess such pictures – were found on Latto’s computer. She said: “In the course of the investigation they came across chat logs in which he stated he had abused the complainer in this charge.” Sheriff Alastair Carmichael imposed a community payback order with three years supervision, 120 hours unpaid work and a requirement to take part in a sex offenders’ group work programme. He also imposed conditions around Latto’s use of the internet and contact with children.

Readers' letters

April 8: Lessons we can learn from River Tay beavers

April 8 2011

This morning's letters look at the River Tay beavers and wildlife management, taxation, fuel prices, and road safety in Fife. Lessons we can learn from River Tay beavers Sir,-I read with interest your article 'Call for halt to beaver damage' (April 6) regarding the acceleration of beaver damage on the lower River Earn, reported to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) by an angler. As with other wildlife, most notably deer, whether the felled trees are viewed as damage or not is only really the concern of the landowner involved. SNH maintain that it is legal for landowners to kill or remove beavers if they deem it necessary so, officially, there is no problem here. If the landowner thinks he has a problem, SNH say he can do something about it. Others will dispute this and the legal position does require to be clarified. This is why the River Tay beavers are important. They will force us to address these issues much sooner than the official Scottish Government reintroduction of beavers into Argyll and everyone will benefit from that, whatever their views on beavers might be. There is little point in calling for a halt to the beaver damage as the Tay beavers do not read The Courier. What we need is a pragmatic approach from government to this issue which allows us to learn how these animals will interact with other land uses and provides landowners with a workable mechanism for dealing with problem situations. Ultimately, all our wildlife should be managed locally according to local circumstances and sensitivities, not by a centralised quango in Inverness. Scottish Natural Heritage are all over the place on this issue and do not have the answers. We will have to look elsewhere for those. Victor Clements.1 Crieff Road,Aberfeldy. Victorian species cull Sir,-I agree in part with Eric McVicar's letter (April 5) about culling non-indigenous species but he shows a severe lack of knowledge in some areas. For example, beavers are a native species, as are bears and wolves. The absence of these animals is solely down to Victorian bloodlust, which saw the eradication of a vast number of species worldwide simply to amuse bored aristocrats. This has left us with a red deer population held on estates causing genetic diversity issues and out of control numbers, due to the lack of natural predators. I believe he is referring to Japanese knotweed, not Japanese hogweed. If Mr McVicar is a teacher then I fear for his pupils as he seems to be giving out wrong information and failing to teach them to check their facts. (Mr) J. Phillip.3 Lyninghills,Forfar. March of indirect taxation Sir,-Your editorial (April 5) and related article on the launch of the Scottish Conservative election manifesto for Holyrood misses an important fact. The fees or graduate contribution to the sum of £4000 is for every year of study. Parents and students can do the maths. Common sense it may be for Conservatives but, for those affected, it will feel very much like indirect taxation much favoured, as many of your readers will recall, by the Conservative governments of the 1980s and 1990s. Iain Anderson.41 West End,St Monans. Motorists need fuel transparency Sir,-We were conned in the Budget last month. The petrol companies had predicted the one penny reduction and had already upped the price by three or four pence. So is it now possible for the UK Government to do two specific things to regain some credibility? First tell the fuel retailers to instantly removed the ridiculous 0.99 they tag on at the end of their main price and, second, make it a rule to give the displayed price per gallon and not per litre. After all, cars in particular are sold with predicted miles per gallon consumption (admittedly often optimistic) not miles per litre. And if motorists were to see immediately the true cost of fuel for their car, instead of ridiculously having to multiply the litre price by 4.546 to find out, they would most certainly be more cautious with their travels and work a lot harder at reducing petrol/diesel consumption. Having been conned a few weeks ago, vehicle owners are surely entitled to some honesty now. Ian Wheeler.Springfield,Cupar. Wind farm risk to road users Sir,-I feel compelled to reply to your article regarding Fife's fatal road crashes. With 10 out of 13 fatal crashes in 2010 happening on rural roads, the most common contributory factor given in your article was failure to observe the road properly. My concerns are related to the plans submitted to Fife Council for the giant wind turbines on Clatto Hill. The road that runs adjacent to the proposed site is the C30. This rural road demands your full attention and concentration while driving in either direction. With the road being narrow, it requires even medium-sized cars to slow down or pull in when passing. The road has several vertical crests and sharp vertical curvatures which would make the turbines appear suddenly then disappear just as quickly. As this road has seen many accidents over a number of years, this would surely add another driving distraction to an already dangerous road. Norman Moodie.Craigview,Clatto Farm,Cupar. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.

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

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.

Farming news

Pupils prepare award-winning burgers

April 26 2018

Meat may be off the menu in Edinburgh schools, but in Perthshire a primary class has helped a local butcher scoop a gold award for its Scotch lamb and mint burgers. Taking inspiration from Alexander McCall Smith’s novel The Perfect Hamburger, the Primary 4 children at Morrison’s Academy in Crieff developed their recipe then created promotional packaging, a poster and a short promotional video to enter the competition run by the Scottish Craft Butchers. The burger was produced by Murray Lauchlan, a seventh-generation butcher at David Comrie and Son. Morrison’s Academy head of primary, Morven Bulloch, said: “The pupils have developed their teamwork and leadership, listening and presenting, problem solving and creativity skills and really brought the project to life by working in partnership with a local family butcher. “Mr Lauchlan guided and assisted the pupils in running their own business and making their own burgers and to win gold is an amazing achievement. “We are looking forward to celebrating this success by holding our own barbecue, to allow the school community to sample the delights of Primary 4’s hard work.” Class teacher Gillian Lauchlan said the children had explored what it means to be enterprising. She added: “Making our own burger recipes and cooking them brought the project to life and knowing the burgers are now being made commercially is so exciting.” nnicolson@thecourier.co.uk

Farming news

Union team to cope with growing list of challenges

February 14 2014

In the wake of this week’s annual meeting, NFU Scotland has unveiled its board of directors for the coming year. Borders livestock farmer Nigel Miller has entered his final year as president. He was first elected to the post in February 2011 and will complete his second and final two-year term at the next annual meeting scheduled for St Andrews in February 2015. There is no change in the vice-presidential line-up, with Fife arable farmer Allan Bowie and Borders livestock producer Rob Livesey returned unopposed at the annual meeting on Tuesday. Mr Bowie, who lives in St Andrews, has been vice-president since February 2009. He farms 500 acres in Fife on short-term leases and contract farming arrangements, as well as grazing suckled calves. Mr Livesey, now moving into his second year in post, is tenant farmer on 500 acres near Melrose and owns or rents a further 180 acres. He and his family run 1,100 Mule ewes and 80 Salers suckler cows. Milnathort farmer George Lawrie continues in the role of NFUS treasurer. The board of directors of NFUS includes the nine regional chairmen and the chairmen of the leading commodity committees. After chairing the first board meeting of the new term, Mr Miller said: “Having just completed our centenary celebrations, it is clear that NFU Scotland remains a lead organisation in Scottish agriculture because of the time and effort that those who hold office whether at branch, region or national level are prepared to put aside for their fellow farmers. “This board takes up office at a hugely important time for the industry, with the CAP reform process and independence debate entering the final stages. “In addition, every sector of our farming industry faces a growing list of challenges. “This is a team with the skills and knowledge to meet those challenges on behalf of our members.” The members of the new board are as follows.Chief executive: Scott Walker. Treasurer: George Lawrie, Grianan, Milnathort. Regional board chairmen: Argyll and the Islands John Semple, Ellary Estate, Achahoish, Lochgilphead. Ayrshire John Wildman, Overcairn, New Cumnock. Dumfries and Galloway Andrew McCornick, Barnsbackle, Lochfoot, Dumfries. East Central James Adam, Highholm, Dunfermilne. Forth and Clyde Tom French, Balgray, Crawfordjohn, Biggar. Highland Jim Whiteford, Shandwick Mains, Tain (replacing Hugh Fraser). Lothian and Borders Stewart McNicol, Castleton Farm, North Berwick (replacing Iain Orr). North East Roddy Catto, Hillhead of Muirton, Aberdeen (replacing Charlie Adam). Orkney and Shetland Brian Moss, Muckle Ocklester, Holm, Orkney (replacing Cecil Eunson). Committee chairmen: Combinable Crops Andrew Moir, Thornton Mains, Laurencekirk. Environment and Land Use Gerald Banks, Fridayhill, Maud, Peterhead. Legal and Technical John Smith, of Drumalea, Kilkenzie, Campbeltown. Less Favoured Areas Lachlan Maclean, Calachaig, Gruline, Isle of Mull. Livestock Charlie Adam, Braeside, Cushnie, Alford, Aberdeenshire (replacing Alastair Martin). Milk Gary Mitchell, West Galdenoch, Stoneykirk, Stranraer. Pigs and Poultry to be confirmed. Specialist Crops Russell Brown, Inverdovat, Newport-on-Tay.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus man’s gift of a kidney saved stanger’s life

October 29 2013

An Angus man has saved a life just six months after signing up to the organ donor register after giving up one of his kidneys. Colin McLachlan, 66, from Montrose, got in touch with NHS Tayside’s transplant coordinator in March. He decided to sign up to give someone a second chance at life just a month after his wife Isobel, 56, died of breast cancer. He talked to his sons Ross, 31 and 33-year-old Craig before going ahead with the procedure. Although he may never know who received his kidney, Mr McLachlan believes more people should follow in his footsteps. Mr McLachlan, a retired property developer, said: “I talked it through with my two sons because I thought if they got kidney disease, I would have given away my only ‘spare’ one but there was only a slim chance of it happening in my lifetime. “We agreed as a family what to do. Anyone can do it and it is no big deal.” Through a series of meetings at Ninewells Hospital with NHS Tayside’s transplant coordinator, Colin had a number of health checks carried out before meeting with surgeons and even a psychiatrist. His operation took place in Edinburgh, lasting more than four hours, and he was back on his feet in just a few weeks. He continued: “I first became aware of doing it in the summer last year when I was watching a television programme and immediately thought ‘what a good idea’. I’ve got two kidneys and I only need one. “It would be relatively straightforward to save someone’s life. The surgeon asked me why I was doing it and I said to him week-in, week-out, he is saving lives and it must feel pretty good. “I just wanted a bit of that and I feel like I’ve done something with my life at no great cost. By going through a simple procedure you can save a life.” Donors and recipients are kept anonymous so donors may never find out who they gave a new lease of life to. However, Mr McLachlan has been told that, so far, everything has gone well with the woman who has received his kidney. He said: “As far as I’m concerned it is hers now. All I would say to them is carpe diem seize the day because they’ve got another chance. “When you meet people who have had a transplant you realise just how vitally important it is and the transformation it can make to someone’s life.”

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