Salty Sam’s Fun Blog for Children

Number 455



Hello Everyone



ln the grounds of the Rocky Bay Parish Church, by one of the gates that lead into the church yard, stands an old yew tree.


lt must be hundreds of years old – maybe even thousands!  We don’t know how many exactly but it is definitely very old.


Yews are famous for living to a great age.  They are probably the most long-lived tree in Northern Europe. There are ten yews in England that are believed to be over a thousand years old. 


Yews as a species are about 140 million years old and Europe’s most ancient tree.  They are tough and have a kind of ‘antifreeze’ in their leaves that protect them down to minus 35 degrees.


Pagans came to worship them because they believed the trees gave gifts of long life and prosperity.


Christian churches were often built on these old sacred worshipping sites; which is why you so often see yews in church yards today.  The yews were there before the churches – the Christians wanted to take over the pagan traditions and strongholds. This was a new religion trying to take over from the old.


Yew trees grow very slowly which means they produce very close-grained wood.


As the outer trunk gradually dies off over many years a new central trunk can grow.  This growing habit makes it difficult to date old trees because they may not have any of their original trunk left to carbon date.


The trunks can have enormous girths.


The timber is an orange-brown colour and very strong but quite elastic too. 


lt was traditionally used to make long bows and tools (as long as you could find a bit to work with that wasn’t too twisted to use).  You wouldn’t want your weapon to break in the middle of a battle!


The yew is known as the tree of death and new life and has many associations with myth and magic.


The Ancient Greeks regarded it as the guardian of the soul which was a legend that spread right across Europe.  So you will often find yews in old church graveyards and on ancient burial sites especially in Britain and Northern France.


lt has been found that a substance found in the bark and leaves can produce powerful medicines even though all parts of the tree are poisonous to people.


You will not see yews in fields where farm animals are kept; although you may see them in parks and along roadways.  They make an excellent dense hedge which can afford good shelter for nesting birds.


The yew is known as a conifer but does not produce cones to hold its seeds.


They can grow up to 20m; their bark is gnarled and twisted.  Their leaves are soft, evergreen needles which are poisonous.  The leaves are food for the caterpillars of the satin beauty moth – a brown, speckled moth.


They bear fruits that are distinctive pinky-red berries with a hard, oval seed inside.


The trees are mostly dioecious which means that the male and female flowers grow on separate trees in March and April. lf you see a tree with berries, it must be a female.  The berry has an opening at the base.  These berries are actually called arils. 


These arils are not toxic and blackbirds and thrushes love eating them.  The seeds inside work their way through the birds to be deposited some way away from the parent tree. Squirrels and dormice also eat the arils.


They are not to be eaten by humans though!



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Thank you!


And see you again next Fun Friday!


Love and kisses



Salty Sam





Bill and Bob’s Joke of the Weekjokejoke


Bob:  What do you call a group of intelligent trees?


Bill:  A brainforest!



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.

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Picture Gallery











This week, I would like to give you a quick update on Operation Muddy Hole.

I told you all about how we worked to extend the woodland at the back of Auntie Alice’s cottage at the beginning of this year.

All our trees did well this summer.  They all came into leaf and Bill and Bob reckon that they all grew a little bit; which proves that the roots have established themselves in the soil.

Work at Oxford University developed a way to plant trees using drones.

The drones can execute a quick way of planting billions of new trees in planting schemes all over the world.  By using this technology, it is planned that a trillion trees will be planted over the next 50 years or so.

The way we planted our woodland and hedgerow trees was of course much more traditional; and we only planted a few trees.


But every little helps!









Quick Quiz


Draw a column of boxes 4 across and 15 down


Write the letters lNTHECHURCHYARD in the boxes down the left side


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


  1. a sensation on the skin that creates a desire to scratch
  2. near/almost to hand
  3. journey/excursion
  4. frozen rain
  5. circular current of water
  6. coagulated milk (solid)
  7. thick vapour
  8. larger bone in the forearm
  9. a deceit to trick someone
  10. large black bird
  11. female deer
  12. to shout out
  13. a seaweed
  14. outer coat of fruit/peel
  15. owing money







lt’s the Weekend!




This decoration can be used like a wind chime.

Draw around something round that you can find, or use a compass.

You need to drawn one circle inside another but the whole design has to be the right size to fit your bell.

Cut two pieces of card to make the hoop more stable.

Wind yarn around the card once in a spaced out way to keep the angle of the yarn right and not tipped over.

Then go around again, but this time completely cover the card as you go; with the first scant layer of yarn as a guide.

Tie off the yarn and make a loop to hang the decoration up and then leave enough yarn to tie the bell on before you cut the yarn off.

The yarn used for the project in the picture is sparkly so it really looks lovely in low light!



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. lTCH
  2. NlGH
  3. TOUR
  4. HAlL
  5. EDDY
  6. CURD
  7. HAZE
  8. ULNA
  9. RUSE
  10. CROW
  11. HlND
  12. YELL
  13. ALGA
  14. RlND
  15. DEBT

The Jesuit Institute - Resources for Advent

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