When I was eight or so, I wrote a letter to Dame Miriam Rothschild, the esteemed British natural scientist. I only knew of her because of my mother's love of nature; and so one afternoon, after a long walk in the nearby park to burn off steam, she persuaded me to write to her about the rhododendrons I'd spotted, bows heaving with the weight of the bright blossoms.

A month later, I received a typed letter in the post on thick, creamy paper. It was, of course, from Dame Rothschild, and I could barely believe my luck. It thanked me kindly for my correspondence, and expressed pleasure at my love, and indeed hers, of the rhododendrons out in bloom. I was delighted, as most children are, to receive real hard-copy, personalised mail, with my name on the envelope and sentiments expressed to me alone in its to-the-point prose. So too was I pleased the simplicity of the whole business of letter-writing; but for half an hour of concentrated study, I had convinced someone to dedicate some of their precious time to me.

It's Cool To Be Kind

This article was first published on The Huffington Post

It's cool to be kind. And before you say it, this isn't the latest fad that washed in with Scandi-chic, hipster beanies or a side-order of quinoa.

Being kind - or an increased awareness of the need to be - is experiencing a resurgence of late. Doing something kind can take as little as seconds, and yet somehow, in environments dominated by do-it-now digital technologies and demanding workloads, our lives are so finely-tuned and full to the brim that they require our undivided attention just to remain operational. The exhaustive pace of modern life means we have to be reminded to leave our desks every hour or take a lunch break, just in case we have to be surgically removed from our monitors. Sleeping? Eating? Once-wonted parts of our daily lives get shaved away in competition to work longer, harder hours.