A city-based love story to write home about

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THE language of love may become a talking point in Milton Keynes.

And that would be thanks to the results of a writing competition launched in February after a travel review company branded our city the least romantic in the country.

It prompted tourist information service Destination MK to challenge would-be writers to create a short love story set in the city famous for concrete cows and roundabouts – and now, perhaps love.

The following is an extract from the first-prize piece, Twenty Million Trees, by Kathryn Lougheed.

You can read all of it – and the other winning entries online through one of Destination MK’s websites. Follow the ‘romance story winners’ link at the left side of the screen at www.amazing-mk.co.uk.

> “I TOOK a deep breath and rubbed my eyes. Watching me from the trees was a smiling Buddha carved from a tree stump.

“Don’t know what you’re looking so smug about,” I muttered.

Carl glanced up at the carving and pursed his lips. “Shall I give you two some space?”

Great. Now he thought I was an idiot. I checked my watch. “We should get back to the conference.”

“Spoil sport.” He looped the camera around his neck. “I was hoping we could check out Howe Park Wood too.”

“Is that also part of the wood that covered all of England after the last ice-age?” I teased, repeating the spiel he’d used to encourage me to play chauffeur for him.

“There are 20 million trees in Milton Keynes,” he said in a mock-serious voice.

“And 21 million roundabouts!” I added.

We headed back towards my car with the sounds of the wood surrounding us. The bark of a Muntjac deer, the intermittent drilling of a woodpecker, the screeches of birds flitting between the trees. We passed a small pond which reflected the early morning sky and teemed with croaking frogs and brightly coloured dragonflies. It was easy to forget we were in the middle of a town better known for some amusingly misshapen concrete cows.

“Worth getting up early for?” Carl said.

“If you like trees,” I muttered. Admitting the real reason I’d got up at 6am would only make the rest of the conference extremely awkward for both of us.