Salty Sam’s Fun Blog for Children

Number 426



Hello Everyone



Have you ever seen a hop before?


lt is in fact a kind of flower – yes, a green flower.


Hops are grown on plants that are trained onto very high trellises made from strings or wires, up to 18 feet high, that is about 6 metres, and are grown as a crop on a farm.


ln this way, the plant can get maximum sunlight falling on it – because it has room to spread out.


Some people would say that a hop farm is more correctly called a hop garden if they come from the south east and a hop yard if they come from the south west.


Hops are grown for a very special purpose.  They are used to make ale and beer.


There are about 31 varieties of hop being grown commercially.  Each type gives its own flavour to a beer being made.


There are female flowers and male flowers.  Only female flowers are grown in hop fields.  The flowers grow high up at the top of the plants.


The hops give beer its primary flavouring, grain contributes a lot too and the water used to a certain extent and the yeast used as well.


The plants start to set flowers after Midsummer Day.  The shortening of the days triggers the growth of flowers.  So although hops are grown in many parts of the world; they can only be grown where there are separate distinct seasons. 


Grapes can only be grown where the climate is warm enough.


Some countries produce good wine and some produce good beer.


Germany, France, Holland, the Czech Republic and Britain are some of the places that have hop farms today.  Hops were taken to America by early Dutch and English settlers and are still grown there too.


Hops have been grown for hundreds of years to make beer; over a thousand in fact.  Before hops were used to make beer, different types of herbs were collected to be turned into brew.


There aren’t too many farms growing hops nowadays, and those that are left in Britain are situated in central and southern England.  Hops used to be grown as far north as central Scotland.


Hops need the right climate to grow and the right soil conditions too.


Hops are herbaceous perennials which like moist well-drained soil.


They can grow up the side of a shed in your garden.


They are good for butterflies.


Hops can also be used to make herbal medicines, soft drinks and teas.  Medicines made with hops can help you to sleep. 


Nowadays, commercially grown hops are picked by very tall machines that straddle the plants as they work their way down the rows of trellises.  But for a very long time they were picked by hand.


People from the East End of London used to spend their summer holidays hop picking.  They stayed in lines of sheds on the farm called hoppers’ huts.  They would go down to Kent on trains from the middle of September onwards for maybe two or three weeks.


They were paid for their labour.  lt was hard work.  They were paid according to how many hops they had picked.


This is called piece work.


lt was an opportunity for the Londoners, who often lived in quite poor and  cramped conditions, to get out of the city for a while. 


The farmers needed all the help they could get to pick the hops.  Many hands were needed every year.  Locals would help, but many people came in from the city as extra labour.


The children helped with the harvest even when they were quite small.  But it was still a chance to be out in the fresh air away from city pollution.


ln a similar way, families from Birmingham went to work in Worcestershire.


lt was the highlight of the year for many.  You could say, the hoppiest days of their year!


Some workers walked about on tall stilts so that they could reach the top of the trellises.  This was a very difficult skill to master, but it made getting around the hop crop much faster.


Some pickers had trouble with skin irritations. 


Picking the hops could turn your hands purple!


Mechanization began at the beginning of last century.  By around the middle of the century, machines had taken away the hop pickers’ jobs.  Only jobs for driving the machinery were left.


Although you can still have the experience of hop picking of you want a day out in the countryside.  Be aware though, that hops are toxic to dogs.


After the hops are picked, they are processed.


The leaves are separated from the hops.


The hops are dried in a kiln.  Moisture is taken down from about 80% to 11%.


After certain oils (including a very important one called lupulin) are extracted from the hops during the brewing process, the papery cones are discarded.


ln some places, like Kent, these kilns are called oast houses.  They are essentially large chimneys.


The hop harvest in south east England was always so important that people strung garlands of hops from the rafters in their houses as decoration at harvest time in celebration.


About 1% of the hops picked during the harvest are not dried but used straight away to make what is called green hop beer or harvest beer.  This can only be done while the hops are fresh.  The hops are picked over a period of about 4-5 weeks a year and this is the only time that the fresh hops will be available.


The word for a person who makes beer is called a brewer.


They work in a brewery. 


This can be a large factory or a small building called a microbrewery.  Micro means small.


The brewer selects ingredients and blends them together.


Special recipe beers are sometime called craft beers.


The beer is fermented in a large tank called a fermenter.  Big ones are so big you need a ladder to get to the top!  The beer becomes an alcoholic beverage during fermentation.


The beer is then stored in casks.  These are metal barrels and although they are heavy, can be rolled around and delivered to pubs where they are kept in cellars.


There is equipment inside pubs that pumps the beer up from the cellar to taps on the bar.  Here people can be served with the kind of beer they like to drink – maybe mild or bitter.


You can have your beer cold or at room temperature.  lt is your choice.


Otherwise, beer can be put into bottles and sold in a supermarket or a special shop called an off-licence for people to take home.  The shop called an off-licence is so-called because customers cannot drink on the premises like they can in a pub.


A pub is called licenced premises.


Children aren’t usually allowed in pubs in Britain unless it is a family pub.  Some pubs even have play equipment in their gardens for children to play on like swings and slides.


Children are not allowed to drink alcoholic drinks in pubs.  They can drink what are called soft drinks.  These don’t have alcohol in them.


By law, children can drink alcohol from the age of five – but only at home under adult supervision.


This might surprise you.


Very young bodies don’t process alcohol very well.  lt is not very good for young livers.  But having a healthy attitude to alcohol is even more important to have as you grow up.


Drinking lots of alcoholic drinks in one go is not clever.  This is called drinking heavily.  lt can get you into trouble, make you feel ill and sometimes even lead to death.  People are not allowed to drive if they have had a lot to drink.


Drinking a lot for a long time over your life will very likely give you a disease.


Drinking alcoholic drinks is not dangerous as long as you don’t drink too much. 


Some people prefer not to drink at all.


lt is all a matter of personal choice and personal responsibility.



lf you like my blog, please support it by telling all your friends and followers about it.


Thank you!


And see you again next Fun Friday!


Love and kisses



Salty Sam





Bill and Bob’s Joke of the Weekjokejoke


Bob:  Did you hear about Uncle Ned taking some vinegar back to the shop to complain that it had lumps in it?


Bill:  No?


Bob:  lt turned out to be a jar of pickled onions!



Salty Sam © Christina Sinclair 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material from this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

Links may be used to



Picture Gallery





Hop picking machine


Oast houses









This week, we have had quite a lot of sea mist in Rocky Bay.

If it gets very thick, I have to turn my foghorn on.

Sea mist can appear at any time of year and can roll in surprisingly quickly.

It can roll over the beach so quickly that you can sit and watch it loom up and travel towards you like a great, fluffy, grey wall.

Mist is tiny droplets of water hanging in the air.  These droplets are smaller than raindrops of course. Raindrops are bigger and heavier and will fall to earth with a plop.

Warm air can hold more moisture as vapour – or gas, than cold air can.  We call warm air that has a lot of moisture in it humid.  (We call cold, damp air raw, not humid.)

Droplets form in air when the water vapour in the air is rapidly cooled. 

The water droplets in the air turn from being invisible to visible because they become bigger.  The water in the air turns from vapour into droplets.  We see the droplets as mist or fog.

Mist is thinner than fog.  Fog is thicker than mist.

Sometimes when mist hovers just above calm water, it looks almost like an eerie smoke drifting across the surface.  Fog is really cloud that has formed on the Earth’s surface.  In ranges of mountains, cool pools of air often turn into valley fog.  So you see clouds between the mountains instead of above them.



Two other names for sea fog are advection fog or frontal fog.

This is because the fog appears when warm air flows over a colder sea surface or when warmer air over water suddenly meets the cooler surface of land.

Frontal fog forms when warm and cold fronts meet.  A weather front is the front of a moving body of air. 

You can see the same effect when you see condensation on the inside of your windows.  Droplets of water form on the glass.  The water is already in the air. 

The room on the inside of the window is warm and the air outside the window is cold.  You don’t see condensation on your windows in the summer because the air temperature inside and outside the window is more even.

Sea fog often hangs very low.

You might not be able to see a thing when you are on a ship and yet only a few metres up, the sky is clear and blue.

To be really exact and scientific, there are four main types of fog at sea.  Three of them result in air being cooled to the point where it cannot hold the moisture it contains as vapour anymore so the vapour turns to droplets and the other occurs when there is so much moisture in the air, condensation occurs even without temperature change.



I hope you liked my explanation of sea fog there, because all the time it was out there I didn’t go anywhere, so I had to find things to occupy myself – like writing my blog.

It may surprise you a lot, but having a brutally loud noise at the top of you home sounding all night and/or all day is something that lighthouse keepers do get used to.









Quick Quiz


Draw a column of boxes 4 across and 12 down


Put the 4 letter answers to these clues across inside the boxes


The first letters of the answers will spell a word


  1. without cost
  2. need to break some of these to make an omelet
  3. someone with a lot of money
  4. what babies drink
  5. the way out
  6. your teacher says put this at the top of your paper
  7. what you go camping in
  8. the pole on which vehicle wheels turn
  9. a grassy surface
  10. a flower sometimes called a flag
  11. what a pig says
  12. under your head







lt’s the Weekend!



These shorts are ideal for going down onto the beach.  You could make them in white and pink to match the doll or contrasting colours like the items in the photographs

These patterns are for the doll featured on Blog Posts 381 and 387.



Using 4mm knitting needles and dark green dk yarn cast on 30 stitches

Knit 4 rows of garter stitch


Change to light green dk yarn

Knit 10 rows of stocking stitch


Decrease 1 stitch at the beginning of the next 4 rows of stocking stitch


Knit 12 rows of stocking stitch


Knit 4 rows of garter stitch

Cast off



  1. Sew the front and back together then the inside leg seams.
  2. You could put a cord around the top of the shorts if you wanted to in order to pull the waist in, but the top will lie more smoothly over the shorts if you don’t.




Using 4mm knitting needles and dark green dk yarn cast on 16 stitches

Knit 22 rows of stocking stitch

Knit 4 rows of garter stitch

Cast off



  1. Sew up bottom seam and side seams using over-sew stitching with right sides together.
  2. Crochet 40 chains into a length of dark green dk yarn x 3.
  3. Attach two straps to the bag corners so that it can be carried over the shoulders.
  4. Thread one cord through the channel at the top of the bag so that it can be opened and closed.



Please note that the material on this blog is for personal use and for use in classrooms only.

It is a copyright infringement and, therefore, illegal under international law to sell items made with these patterns.

Use of the toys and projects is at your own risk.

©Christina Sinclair Designs 2015sand



Quick Quiz Answers


  1. without cost – free
  2. need to break some of these to make an omelet – eggs
  3. someone with a lot of money – rich
  4. what babies drink – milk
  5. the way out – exit
  6. your teacher says put this at the top of your paper – name
  7. what you go camping in – tent
  8. the pole on which vehicle wheels turn – axis
  9. a grassy surface – turf
  10. a flower sometimes called a flag – iris
  11. what a pig says – oink
  12. under your head – neck


Answer = fermentation



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