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Notes From The Cotswolds – True romance costs nothing… by Penny Parkes
2017/01/12  |  By:   |  Features  |  

The New Year is well underway and most of our resolutions have probably been long since abandoned – but there is one resolution I make every year that seems to stick. Every year, I commit to the same thing – Random Acts of Kindness. They don’t need to be big, they don’t need to be flashy, and crucially there is no need – or indeed opportunity – for acknowledgement.

It has to be said, that I do tend to bring a bookish slant to this commitment, being rather fond of tucking book vouchers randomly into paperbacks in bookstores, sometimes with a note, often in the children’s department – only too delighted that parents are buying their children a book to read, rather than another app for their iPhone. Simple things, such as passing along a lovely compliment or even just hanging back and letting the stressed, rushing person go ahead of you, are all good places to start, if you feel inclined. Maybe quietly pay for the coffee of the exhausted mum struggling with the screaming toddler, rather than shooting her filthy looks. Or chat to the elderly lady in the queue for the Post Office – you may actually be the only person to engage with her that day.

And so, with Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I began to wonder how many of us actually apply the same commitment in our relationships. Are we, in fact, far more likely to volunteer for a role on the PTA, than to help our Nearest & Dearest with sorting out their hated VAT receipts? Do we forget that acts of kindness in our everyday lives are just as special and appreciated? Possibly even more so?

At the end of last year, at the Stroud Book Festival, I was invited to join Katie Fforde, Jo Thomas and Claire King to discuss the notion of Romance. It was telling to me that, for all of us, authentic romance wasn’t about hearts and flowers – the champagne flowing on a designated date feeling all too contrived. True romance was feeling heard and seen – everyday. Coming downstairs in the morning to find the coffee machine switched on and ready to go, although I am the only coffee-drinker in the house, ticks the box for me. Little gestures that cost nothing but say ‘I know you’ meaning so much more.

So, in that spirit, and to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to all of you who have read, enjoyed and reviewed Out Of Practice this year, we offer you a little taste of Larkford – free, gratis and for nothing. The ebook short story Swept Away visits Larkford on Valentine’s Day where, needless to say, all is not going to plan.  I hope it makes you smile. And once you’ve read it, maybe throw a little Random Act of Kindness into your mix – at home or out in the world at large

with love from Larkford xx


Out of Practice by Penny Parkes is out now, Swept Away (an eBook short story) is out in February and Practice Makes Perfect, the brand new full length novel is out in June!