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…

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…

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…

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…

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…