I always find Stoke a fascinating but sad and sorry place to boat through. Fascinating because there are so many remnants of its old industries - the bottle kilns, the wharves, the ruined brick warehouses. Sad because that's all they are - remnants.
People have told me of cruising through the town when steel furnaces spat fire along the canal and the kilns belched smoke. What a sight that must have been!
All that has gone, the warehouses are deserted ruins, the kilns silent museum pieces and for nearly a mile the canal runs through a wasteland; a bulldozed desert of nothingness.
I know things have to change but in Stoke they seem to have just changed for the worst; those lifeblood industries have gone but nothing much seems to have replaced them.
It's a story one sees across so much of the old industrial heart of England.