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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...


Fish supper fan putting wheels in motion for Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance

May 12 2015

An avid cyclist and self-confessed “fat lad at the back” hopes to raise more than £5,000 for Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance this month. James Aitken from Bridge of Earn began cycling eight years ago following concerns his weight had crept up over the years from 16 to 25 stone. Since then the former Howe of Fife rugby player has been a frequent contributor to charity by cycling. Mr Aitken says he “loves his fish suppers too much to see the benefit” but has vowed to help a charity that supports “vulnerable” cyclists who go out over arduous terrain. On May 30 the 57-year-old undertakes the Cairn o’ Mount Challenge with Moira Walls, cycling to the famous viewpoint from Edzell, towards Banchory, down to Stonehaven, Inverbervie and then over the hills back to Edzell. There is a collection bucket on the counter of his favourite chippy The Fish and Chip Company in Craigie cross, Perth, and Mr Aitken has a fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/Jim-Aitken6. “It’s a local charity and the money doesn’t go into a black hole,” he said of SCAA. “As cyclists we are very vulnerable and any one of us may require their assistance one day to save our lives. “I appealed through the Masonic network in Fife, Perthshire east and Angus and so far I’ve had £2600 returned in cheques.” Mr Aitken is an active Lodge member and is well known as a Burns scholar and performer. He plays fiddle and compres at Newburgh Accordion and Fiddle Club. He has previously taken on the Kinross Sportive raising £5,000 for CHAS, and wants to cycle to John o’ Groats for Cancer Research with friends from Lomond Ceilidh Band next year. He raised £1,700 for Marie Curie during his second Etape Caledonia last year and £1,800 for Prostate Scotland with fellow Abdie Cycling Club member Moira Walls. See @jimaitkenabdie on Twitter to follow Mr Aitken’s progress.

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

Other sports

Montrose squash player Lisa Aitken puts career break to good use

April 5 2018

As career breaks go, Lisa Aitken’s was as far removed from run-of-the-mill as they come. But the Montrose squash player believes that catching the mosquito-borne tropical disease dengue fever, and being forced to lie in bed and pick apart what was going right and wrong for her as a professional athlete, will give her the chance to break her glass ceiling. And it might just help her win a Commonwealth Games medal. “Unfortunately it took its time,” said Aitken. “To be honest I’d rather it was that than a normal sporting injury. “I had a lot of time to reflect. I always say that I don’t wish that it didn’t happen. “I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and I definitely stand by that. “It came at a point in my squash career that I had reached a world ranking of 38 but I wasn’t making the next step. It felt like a bit of glass ceiling and I was getting frustrated at not knowing what the next step for me was. Things needed to change. “Having that time where you’re forced to think about what you’re happy with and what you’d change has definitely been a benefit. I’ve asked myself questions, my friend questions, my family questions and my coach questions. “I got everything on the table. Over the two-and-a-half years I was off, I matured. “I came back to training and then tour as a whole new person with fresh ideas. I’ve got a more intelligent focus. “The only bad thing was I wasn’t making any money! It was a case of get out that flat, sell that car and move back in with mum and dad.” Aitken has been rising up the world rankings in recent months and also has World Tour successes to her name. “I’m playing a lot better, with a lot more to my tool belt,” she said. “I’ve been forced to do that because everybody had improved. “I’ve only been back a year and I’m playing a lot better – and I’m a lot fitter – than I was when I got to 38 in the world. “Yes, there is that number in my head but I’m thinking way beyond it. In a way it’s irrelevant. The game is different and I’m different. “It’s not a case of clicking your fingers and you’re back to where you were. You have to immerse yourself in the tour again. “Before I got ill I’d never won a tour title. Now that I’ve come back, I’ve won two.” Aitken’s last Commonwealth Games appearance was eight years ago, meaning the build-up to Australia has been “fresh and exciting.” “This definitely feels like my first Games again,” she said. “Because I’ve had all that time out my body feels great. Unless I want to have kids anytime soon then I’m going to play for as long as my body allows me. “I do see myself as a late bloomer and squash is a mature person’s game. A lot of people describe it as mental chess because of the strategy you need, always planning a few steps ahead.” Aitken will compete in the women’s singles and doubles but the mixed, with Kevin Moran, is her most realistic medal shot. “It’s pretty clear cut for me,” she admitted. “The mixed doubles is a massive one for me. “In mixed the female tends to get picked on a lot and that’s why I quite like it. It’s almost a bit of a battle of the women. “It’s dynamic, fast and exciting. “With me being a left-hander I get to take my forehand and Kevin gets to take his, which is an unusual combination. “We’ve had some good results in the build-up. We beat the silver medallists at the last Commonwealth Games. I’m really excited about it. “I wouldn’t go as far as to say there’s an expectation that we get a medal because we’ve only been together for a matter of weeks. It’s very early days. “But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have an expectation on myself because I know that it’s do-able. “We could be a joker in the pack because we’re underdogs and we’re relatively unknown as a partnership. “We could certainly medal if we play to our best. Get to the quarter-finals and semi-finals and it’s all about what happens on the day. Aitken’s love of squash was ignited at Montrose Sports Club. “My mum brought me to lessons there,” she recalled. “I was a bit of a jack of all trades. I tried everything and went to every club. I did football, a bit of cricket and badminton. In the end squash gave me the biggest adrenaline rush. “The combat between you and somebody else in such a confined space suited me. I’ve never looked back or regretted choosing squash.”


Dunfermline paedophile ‘likely to reoffend’ gets four years off sentence

November 20 2015

A man who subjected two girls to months of sexual abuse has had his jail sentenced slashed by four years. William Aitken, 42, of Dunfermline, raped and sexually assaulted the girls from the ages of 13 and 14. When he was jailed in April for 16 years at the High Court in Edinburgh, Police Scotland said the two vulnerable teenagers had suffered horrendous abuse. Jurors heard how Aitken would give his victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, money and cigarettes before preying on them. Law Lords reduced the sentence to 12 years on appeal. Aitken’s victims suffered repeatedly at his hands, one over the course of two years and the other over 10 months. The sentence imposed on Aitken, of Keir Hardie Terrace, included concurrent periods of five and 10 years for the two charges in relation to the younger girl. He was also sentenced to five and six years concurrently for his offences against the other girl, but with these terms consecutive to the first two. Aitken was considered likely to reoffend and trial judge Lady Wolffe said the initial sentence reflected the fact Aitken was a “calculating and predatory” individual. Following Aitken’s appeal Lord Bracadale said Lady Wolffe had not taken sufficient account of the “significant and unexplained” delay in bringing Aitken to trial after he was charged in September 2010. He also said: “We consider that in this case, in addition to the issue of delay, the cumulative effect of the consecutive sentences has produced an overall sentence which is excessive, particularly in the case of a first offender.” Jailing Aitken, Lady Wolffe had told him he was guilty of “calculated and predatory sexual abuse for your own sexual gratification of two vulnerable girls in their early teens in respect of whom you were in a position of trust”. She said: “Sexual crimes involving children are particularly odious. “Such abuse is not acceptable in a modern society and it is the responsibility of the court to reflect that understanding.”

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.


Dunfermline man facing jail for rape and sexual assault of girls

March 24 2015

A man who sexually abused two young girls over a four-year period is facing a lengthy prison sentence. William Aitken, 42, from Dunfermline, raped and sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl on various occasions between February 2008 and March 2012. His victim cannot be identified for legal reasons. The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Aitken also repeatedly sexually assaulted another girl between September 2009 and June 2010. The court heard how the child, who also cannot be named for legal reasons, was aged 14 when Aitken started targeting her. Police eventually learned of Aitken’s offending behaviour and officers arrested and took him into custody. A jury convicted Aitken, of Keir Hardie Terrace, Dunfermline, of rape and sexual assault charges. Following conviction, defence solicitor advocate Gordon Martin told judge Lady Wolffe that his client knew he would be sent to prison. Lady Wolffe placed Aitken on the sex offenders register and deferred sentence to the High Court in Edinburgh on April 10.

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

Shows & Sales

RHS 2015: Ariadne takes Goat title south of Border

July 16 2015

The overall goat championship went south of the border with Mrs Valerie Wood, Loud Farm, Stanley, Co Durham taking top honours. Her four-year-old British milker Treval Ariadne is by Treval Zohan and out of Treval Arabesque Ariadne and kidded in March. Judge Colin Newton, Spennymoor, then placed Northern Ireland exhibitor Marcus Galbraith in reserve with his AOV milker Boghill Daisy. This four-year-old is by Churchview Artotuffun and out of Boghill Jasmin. She was also a March kidder. Agnes Aitken, Hillberry, Stonehaven, had a good Highland collecting the Pygmy Goat championship and the award for the best kid in the show. Her Pygmy was the two-year-old brown and white Hillrun Ffion by Elcho Papa. Mrs Aitken’s kid champion was her mid-March born female Rogerian Flickka. A British Alpine, Rogerian Flickka is by Rogerian Condor and out of Rogerian Emma. farming@thecourier.co.uk

Perth & Kinross

Kinnoull Hill arboretum is living proof of naturalist’s legacy

May 11 2015

A collection of rare trees on Kinnoull Hill has been saved thanks to an £80,000 legacy from a Perth-born naturalist. The cash was left to the Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust by Jim Aitken, who died in 2003 at the age of 90. The arboretum originally part of the Kinfauns Estate but now owned by Forestry Commission Scotland once contained a magnificent collection of rare and exotic trees from around the world. But age, storms and grazing deer had taken their toll, leaving the arboretum a shadow of its former self. The restoration of the arboretum, which began in 2004, has been the work of the James Aitken Arboretum Committee. The committee brings together the Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust, Forestry Commission Scotland, the Friends of Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park and friends and colleagues of the late Mr Aitken. Morag Watson, manager of the Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust, said: “Perthshire has such an incredible tree heritage, with some of the most remarkable trees and woodlands in Europe; it is wonderful to be able to restore part of this heritage thanks to Jim Aitken’s tremendous generosity. “Jim’s legacy has enabled the arboretum committee to plant more than 150 trees and add paths, seats and information boards so visitors can enjoy this once-forgotten gem.” Provost Elizabeth Grant, who opened the new entrance to the James Aitken Arboretum, added: “The hard work and devotion the James Aitken Arboretum Committee has put into this project is a wonderful example of the public spirit of the people of Perth.”