Space exploration has come to the forefront of the public's interest in recent years with success stories coming from all over the world. As well as the recent successes reported by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, the European Space Agency boast an impressive track record and is the world leader in environmental research into the ozone layer.
Last week, it was great to see one Cabinet Minister getting out of the 'conference zone'. Justine Greening might be Secretary of State for International Development but while in Birmingham, she took the opportunity to find out what's going on closer to home with a visit to a school in one of the most deprived parts of the city.
Between July 29 and August 29, the ALS Association received $100million... more than five times what it received in the whole of 2012... here's a thing: those huge figures were not the result of a well-planned, well-executed and well-targeted campaign. They were the result of millions of people giving up a tiny amount of time, making a small effort and donating a modest sum.
These are going to be critical months for the voluntary and community sector (VCS) and charities more generally - and this is especially the case for the national sector bodies. It will also be a critical period for all of us and there needs to be an open debate about the future of society which these bodies can lead.
When I was preparing to go and after my return, I started to notice that people asked me the same questions over and over again. And some of them popped up in Guyana too. So I've drawn up a list of the main questions I was asked about being a volunteer - just to clear a few things up - volunteer myth-busters!
It took me a week to get used to the environment, as even though I liked the food, I struggled to eat much, though I soon got my appetite back to its usual size once I had adjusted to the climate and my malaria pills. Anyway despite my lack of energy I still enjoyed the quick intro into PADI (I found that I was at a slight advantage as I had already started working through the book).
Our journey in Peru began on the beach of Máncora. Here we cruised the town in motorcycle taxis, sunbathed on the beach, and enjoyed fresh ceviche. Continuing south by bus, we landed in the Miraflores distric of Lima. This was the perfect place to recharge before heading up into the Andes Mountains.