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  Hello! I’m Tessa – a scientist, writer and science communicator. Read about my blog here and click on the social media buttons below, or subscribe via email, to follow my journey!  

Iceland’s Best Waterfalls

  ‘Foss’ was the first word I learnt in Icelandic.  Thanks to my waterfall-loving husband, it was dotted all over the map for our Iceland road trip before we even set foot in the country.  Iceland is heaven for waterfall fans: it literally overflows with them, thanks to a happy combination of climate, geology and…

Rafting the Li River, Guilin

  Rafts to my left,  rafts to my right, and countless stretch ahead and behind me. I’m setting off as part of a pirate armada, or at least that’s what it feels like. Though here on the Li River, it’s less Jack Sparrow and more Ching Shih. I may be floating on top of the…

Pandas in Chengdu!

  Giant pandas and I go way back; or at least my one-sided love for them does.   ‘Panda’  was my fated companion from birth through childhood. He was a soft toy about the size of a one-year-old cub, gifted by my dad to my mum whilst they were still dating. After I was born, he…

Beijng’s Forbidden City

  A hundred years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to set foot in this place.  Only royalty, concubines and eunuchs could wander about the Forbidden City. It’s from here that China’s emperors ruled, set law, and lived for 500 years until the abdication of the last emperor, Puyi. He was forcefully evicted from his…

Guilin’s Reed Flute Cave

  I know nature is the world’s best artist, but sometimes I need a little reminder. Guilin had reminders dripping from the sky, and nowhere was this more literal than at its Reed Flute Cave. Formed over millions of years, the stalactites and stalagmites here could make Michelangelo green with envy, as they show off…

The Great Wall of China, all to ourselves!

  The air is heavy with the smell of spruce, as I hike my way through the Shuiguan mountains towards the Great Wall of China. I’m on a steep, solitary path that twists its way through larches, spruce, cherry blossom and other tree species. With my two travel partners ahead and behind me, and the…

Beijing’s Cherry Blossoms

  A man’s rice noodles dribble out of his mouth as I walk past. His mouth remains agape – my appearance has made him forget that he’s eating. He’s not the only one. A few metres away, a group of girls giggle and point in my direction. Two middle-aged women angle their mobiles to take…

Fake science, and how to spot it

  Fake science is everywhere. It bombards our social media feeds, promising that lemon juice can cure cancer, eating margarine is deadly, and the pharmaceutical industry is the scourge of the planet. And, unfortunately, other traditional media is likewise not immune.   FAKE SCIENCE ⇑   In fact fake science is so common that there’s actually…

One day in Heimaey

  Heimaey is off the typical tourist track in Iceland, but well worth the detour. It’s an island that forms part of Vestmannaeyjar (the Westman Islands), about an hour ferry ride off the mainland.  The island is only 13.4km² so its main sights can be easily seen in a day, which makes it a perfect spot…

Heimaey’s volcano bombs

  If these rocks resemble a pile of cannon balls, it’s with good reason. They’re actually known as volcano bombs, and they spewed out of Iceland’s volcano Eldfell in its first (and only) eruption in 1973.  The rocks formed from molten lava, which cooled and solidified rapidly whilst still flying through the air.   These…

Inside a 1916 battlefield medical kit

  I spotted this little piece of medical history in Dublin’s General Post Office. Besides being a buzzing postal hub, the building also doubles up as a museum on the 1916 Irish uprising against British rule. The case is a medical kit used on the battlefield, and provides a snapshot of medicine at the time….

Five Awesome Cemeteries

  Cemeteries are some of the silentest spots in a country. Yet without saying a word, they can still speak volumes, as history, art, anthropology and nature all intermingle. They’re truly underrated in terms of travel destinations, and in honour of Halloween I’ve rounded up my top five from around the globe.   1. Old Jewish Cemetery,…

Puffins Galore in Latrabjarg

I’m lying face down on soily ground, balancing my weight precariously on a hollowed out cliff edge. Not an ideal situation considering I’m afraid of heights. Yet I continue to wriggle my way forward until I’m leaning over the edge. For just beyond stand three absolutely gorgeous puffins, and there’s no such thing as close enough….

Iceland’s Purple Fields

  Before I landed in Iceland, I pictured a country of black rock interlaced with green moss, torn by blue-white glaciers and red lava fields.  One colour that I wasn’t expecting to see was purple, in vibrant fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. This beautiful plant is Alaskan lupine (Lupinus nootkatensis) and, after driving…

Three lessons from the Azure Window’s demise

  A few days ago,  when my mobile beeped with the following message, “Oh my god, the Azure Window is gone”, my first reaction was to check my calendar. Surely it was still March, and not April 1st? This denial was rudely cut short when all national and international newspapers started proclaiming the same fact….

Beautiful Rome

  There are times when my body craves beauty. It’s  a slowly spreading itch, which I can sometimes cure by being out in nature, or sitting down with a great book, musical piece or other form of art. But 2016 was a tough year, and I needed a full immersion to detox from the traces…

San Francisco’s sea lions

My terrible sense of direction is a running family joke, so I thought it would be harder to find San Francisco’s famous sea lions. However, all I had to do was follow the overpoweringly musky, stagnant smell wafting through the air at Fisherman’s Wharf,  until I reached Pier 39’s K Dock.  As here I found…

This is not an egg

Somewhere out in the ocean, a turtle may be eating a breakfast that looks remarkably similar to your own. Presenting the Egg Yolk Jelly (Phacellophora camtschatica) – a jellyfish that looks like it would be more at home surrounded by baked beans and bacon. I came across this unexpected creature at the Monterey Bay Aquarium…

Discovering baby dragons in Postojna

Each time I watch a horror movie, scenes tend to remain trapped in my mind for ages, resurfacing when I least expect them. So upon visting Postojna in Slovenia, I couldn’t help but picture The Descent. The film follows six unsuspecting cave explorers who get trapped in an unmapped cave system, where they’re pursued by…

Time travelling into Einstein’s house in Bern

Today, a red plaque on the building’s facade proudly announces ‘Einstein-haus’. But, in 1905, there would have been nothing  to distinguish this tiny flat from all the other similar blocks along Kamgrasse in Bern. Yet, behind the curtains, no ordinary home life was going on. This is the home in which Einstein came up with his theory…