Canbury village featured a great deal in MISSING Past and Present, both in the ‘Present’ story of Dot, who wandered homeless around the lanes surrounding Canbury village, only two miles walk from Drumford town centre.
The walk from the town took Dot over the River Ree, through a spinney, past some allotments where Dot found a tumbledown shed open; a refuge on cooler nights. It was situated behind the school, an old fashioned Victorian building which had a main entrance out to the village green. It was here she went during her worst moments of despair to be surrounded by everyday life going on normally around her. Dot would wander long Canbury Lane, which ran through the village, and it was along the way that she discovered the solace of nature in a clearing where she slept out in the open on warm summer nights, staring up into the canopy of the three mature trees. Opposite was a tiny footpath and it was along here that she discovered the Grange, a haven where she tried to find herself once more.
Above is a rough map of Canbury in relation to Drumford.
The children of Canbury School had a great affection for Dot and called her ‘Lady Pink Hat’ and the little village shop looked out for her too, giving her food on their sell by date at the end of a day when they saw her pass by.
For Millie, in the ‘Past’ story, Canbury was her home as she trained to be a nun at the Grange, nearly two centuries before, but whereas for Dot it was a Godsend, for Millie it was more like a prison.
Did I find it difficult to write a novel in an imaginary place?
No, not at all. These places were as real in my head as Dot, Millie and the other characters who led my story forward.
Was it strange to link them to real places too?
Yet again no. I imagined Drumford as one of those communities affected by Beecham in the cut to the UK rail network; not deemed large enough to have its own station and yet a thriving and caring community nevertheless, much like many a market town in the UK. To get to Bedford there is a good bus service or of course the road.