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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!  

Three days in Skye: A love-letter

Some destinations are like postcards – picture perfect, easily discarded. But then there are those others that call out to be explored further and further, that twine around the soul and never let go, no matter the length of time spent. And in a brief three days, Skye wasted no time wrapping itself around mine….

Sink into Dune du Pilat

Golden, powdery sand as far as the eye can see. In front of me, behind, above, and below. There’s good reason why Dune du Pilat is officially Europe’s tallest sand dune. In fact, I’m going to let the dune show off a little: Dune du Pilat isn’t stationary. It’s actually moving slowly inwards, eating up…

Normandy’s American Cemetery and the science of courage

The white crosses and stars in Normandy’s American Cemetery seem to go on for miles. Buried under each, an American soldier who died fighting in World War II’s D-day landings and their aftermath. Each a life lost right in its prime, and all in just a few weeks. Some markers have tiny American flags or…

Mont-Saint-Michel, and why it’s no longer an island at high tide

Mont-Saint-Michel can be seen rising out of the sea from miles away – a Gothic apparition, pulling visitors off the highway to a time gone by. The mount has been beckoning pilgrims since the 8th century – calling them to cross a treacherous bay, with some of the fastest rising tides in the world. But…

China’s Avatar Mountains -Awesome Zhangjiajie

It’s not every day that you can step into an animated film. But Zhangjiajie was the inspiration for the floating mountains in Avatar, and David Cameron lifted them so exactly that its easy to expect my very own flying mountain banshee to be waiting at the top. Being there is kind of like being Mike…

Mývatn – No Other Place Like it on Earth

Mývatn is a place that’s like no other in the world. And that’s not my opinion – it’s a UNESCO fact. Only two locations are considered somewhat similar – oceanside Hawaii and Mars! So what makes it so special? Lake Mývatn is full of islands that formed in a very unique way. About 2000 years…

Namafjall Hverir – a Trip to Mars

One thousand rotting eggs – that’s what Námafjall Hverir smells like. The smell seeps into the car with the windows still up, whilst we’re still about half a kilometre away. Námafjall Hverir is a hotspot of geothermal activity, and its smell comes from hydrogen sulfide gas that’s constantly being released from its hot springs and…

The Surprising Chemistry of Maltese Balconies

It’s impossible to miss Maltese balconies when in Malta. (Hence their name!) They come in all shapes, sizes and colours, and brighten up our island. But a little-known fact is that, when they first started spreading throughout 19th century Valletta, they were typically painted with a deadly green  paint called Vienna Green. It’s a lucky…

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….