Tag Archives: March

The best places to live in Britain?

Candice : After the last post I am somewhat at a loss as to what to follow it with.  I’ve also got a stinking head ache so excuse me if my post is short!

I was reading with interesting in the Sunday Times about the supposed “Best places to live in Britain”.  Flicking through I went straight to the Midlands section and looked for the lovely place where I live.  But no, it was not there, shock horror, but Leamington, where Phil lives, was.  Now, there is nothing wrong with the Spa town but I was surprised that the ‘hull, as Phil likes to call it was not there.  I have to admit I was planing to add £10k on to our house price when we go to sell it again just based on this!

Anyway, it got me thinking about locations and how one might pick where a story is set and why.  I did look to see if March, Cambridgeshire, was in the listing, as this is where our book is based, but no it got away too.  Funnily enough, that probably helps as we don’t give it the best write-up in the novel.

So, where are the best places to live and why is my question.  How did the Sunday Times come up with this somewhat arbitrary list that in such hard times might be to difference between sale or no sale.

Apparently it is based on ‘crime statistics, transport links and life expectancy’ amongst others.  Have they not heard HS2 is on its way? After the nasty nature of JK Rowling’s  A Casual Vacancy that I blogged about the other week, it makes me wonder is there a story in living in the best place to live?  I can see it going a number of ways, Stepford Wives, Stephen King’s Children of the Corn, and other options but none of them pleasant.  Maybe that’s just how my mind works?

I don’t know if I’d want to be marked against such strange criteria, and its the same for our writing.  It’s all personal opinion, what one likes another hates.  We’ve been entering our stories into competitions and have got nowhere, but I’m not going to get down hearted as it’s all just that markers feelings on what they like.  We can’t all like One Direction or the X Factor, you know.

Luckily for the other half, he is working on a development based in Edgbaston and that gets a listing.

Apparently next week there is a second supplement, all about top spots for families and the great outdoors.  Forget putting the house on the market if we don’t get in that one!

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March, with Little Candice

Phil: Have you ever visited a place purely because you saw the name on a map ? That’s pretty much how we came to set the book in March, Cambridgeshire. I’d never seen the place, didn’t know if it was full of devil-worshiping fiends or anything useful. I just looked at a map of roughly the right area and though, “That’ll do”. Gingerbread lady

Anyway, earlier today I was visiting my editor, who is based just to the right of Peterborough. Once we’d had a nice long chat and I’d worked out he wasn’t going to take me to the pub on the magazine expense account, I found myself looking at some very flat landscape and thinking about lunch. On a whim I typed “March” into the satnav and after picking the right one from the list, found it to be only half an hour away. Half an hour further into deepest Fenland, past many signs promoting the amusingly named  Tacklefest, but still not that far.

The roads in this area are straight and reasonably empty and I soon found myself  standing by a sign proclaiming “March  Fenland Market Town Twinned with St JeanDe Braye”. I took a picture and pressed on to try to find the centre. After a couple of miles this duly appear and thanks to a Fenland Council temporary (and free !) car park I was soon out and about exploring.

Sadly, I was on my own, sans sidekick and that was a shame. We both wrote this book and this would have been a great spot to scoff some cake. All was not lost though as a visit to Julies Bakery nearly solved the problem. In the glass counter was a nearly perfect model of my friend made from gingerbread. “Little Candice” is wearing a fetching pink dress with sparkly bits. Sadly, she appears a little perturbed, or applied that lipstick in a hurry and that third eye effect on her head must be some sort of fascinator but I can’t be sure. It certainly was nice of the bakers to produce a figure in her honour.

Unfortunately LittleCandiceTM was only available for a photo before being purchased by the lady in front of me along with some gentleman gingerbreads. Worse still, I had to explain why I needed to take a picture and might have sounded more than a bit mad. Everyone humoured me, presumably while they call the local asylum. They also took the time to sell me a rather delicious jam lattice (think open-top tart). It was so nice that once I’d finished my stroll I went and bought the remaining stock and have just eaten half a lemon curd lattice which was just as yummy. Please go to the Julies Bakery website and look them up if you are in the area. I’m 90 miles away or I’d be a regular and even fatter than I am already !

Anyway, March itself is a very pretty market town. The town hall beside the canal is an impressive structure that dates from 1900. Nearby is the old market whose buildings house what we tend to term a “junk shop” or vintage items emporium depending on your point of view. In many places they would have been torn down for a hypermarket or empty shopping centre a doubtless will be one day. For the moment it’s a chance for students of historic architecture to find something “real”.

The highlight though is a dome. In the middle of the town. A cast iron dome that serves no purpose other than to look nice and perhaps support some hanging baskets. Why don’t more towns have this sort of thing ?

The good news is that on the outskirts, there are a couple of vegetable packing stations. Niether does research, nor are they based in an ugly, ramshackle stately home. That’s just in our book. Mind you, there is an out-of-town adult superstore (they say it is a superstore, it looked like an old garage to me but maybe size doesn’t matter)  which looked to be doing surprisingly good business for a weekday afternoon if the number of cars outside is anything to go by. Perhaps we could set something there ?

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Um – someone moved the borders…

March this way ! Candice:  I’m sure Phil will explain that somewhere along the way we had to come up with a setting for the book.  There needs to be an office for company it’s about and a suitable setting for HIA – the vegetable research people who are the comedy value of the book.  Office – that’s easy as we were both based in Solihull at one point, with an empty office block next to us – that becomes KOD’s home.

But back in the quango days Phil comes in with the venue of March, described as in Norfolk.  March, strange name but innocuous sounding place so that’s fine by me.

However, this weekend I pop off for a night away with the other half in Cambridge.  We are busily driving down the A14 (within the speed limit, of course) and I see a road sign.  March – this way.  Hang on, says I, we aren’t in Norfolk yet.  So I get the map out and discover that, though in the Norfolk direction, March is in Cambridgeshire.  So, my job for today – changing all references to Norfolk to Cambridgeshire in the book.    Research – it’s an important thing – makes you realise there are so many things to consider when writing a book, not just downloading what’s in your brain.

Its OK though, that’s what find and replace is for, thank god, because otherwise I’d go bonkers typing Cambridgeshire over and over again, it’s bl*ody long compared to Norfolk.

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