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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!  

Striking gold in New Zealand

At first glance the rock seemed like any other. But when I turned it round, I could see that it was dripping with gold. Running through the rock’s veins, the gold shimmered in the light, whispering “Look at me, hold me, want me.” It was hard to pull myself away and pass  it on to…

Hello wild artichoke!

In spring, Malta’s countryside is dotted with the violet blooms of wild artichoke (Scientific name: Cynara cardunculus, Maltese name: Qaqoċċ tax-xewk). The plant actually predates man’s arrival on the islands, and has likewise been found in other countries around the Mediterranean for millennia.  Although it adds a striking pop of colour wherever it grows, most…

Oamaru’s blue penguins

Everyone sits still in the dusk light – the spot lit up only with an amber glow, that blue penguins can’t see. The sole sound is that of the sea crashing onto the rocks below. We’ve been told not to move or speak, to allow the penguins to easily find their way back home.  We’re…

Four ways to travel without leaving your home

Flights are grounded around the world, countries are in lockdown, and people who love to travel are pacing the walls. But we’re all in it for the long haul. So to help soothe itchy travel feet, I’ve put together a list of options that still allow travel in this time of COVID-19.  1: Virtual tours…

Three weeks in New Zealand – One awesome road trip

  Can a country be worth 48 hours of flight time?  That’s what I kept asking myself before finally hitting ‘Enter’ and booking flights to New Zealand. Three weeks later, I can say that the answer is oh most definitely yes. Volcanoes, glaciers, glow worms, dolphins, rainforests – there are so many awesome locations that…

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…