Tuesday 25 September 2018


To the boater, Spode normally means a stretch of the Trent and Mersey between Rugeley and Kings Bromley. The canal passes Spode House, which was linked with the Spode family of pottery fame. Then, coming towards Rugeley, you enter a narrow stretch which, inconveniently, has a bend at one end so you can't see what might be coming the other way.

There's only room for one boat and, unlike the narrows near Autherley Junction, there are no passing places. So, if you're fortunate enough to have a crew member, they get off and go to check all is clear – or to have a chat with the crew member of the oncoming craft.

Once through the narrows, you come to the Spode long-term moorings – here seen looking back from Erin Mae, with the bridge from which we had emerged in the background..

Normally, at this end, there is an odd life-sized figure on the bank, and I thought I'd take a photo of it as we passed. But it wasn't there! It's been in the same place every time we have come this way, until today. However, 100 yards further on we found it.

The figure is holding some sort of light. Its gender is indeterminate, and I can't decide whether it's meant to be a witch, or Scrooge's associate Jacob Marley, or simply an old person in their night attire. And why it should have been moved to someone else's plot 100 yards along was not at all clear. Perhaps the people who moor here take it in turns to host this character. It did strike me today that it might be one of Tolkien's blue wizards that we discussed yesterday, a little lost and trying to find his way home.

So much for Spode. There are unfriendly moorings on the towpath side – a concrete edge and no rings. You never see anybody moored up there. But today, for whatever reasons, there was a flotilla at anchor as we neared the end where the canal turns sharp right through a bind bridge hole towards the Ash Tree pub.


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