We have been crossing the Atlantic Ocean as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge for almost two weeks now, and what an eventful few days it has been! The race began with fantastic weather, and at one point we were lying in second position, which is a huge achievement - we were ecstatically happy!
At the weekend the world watched in sadness as Nelson Mandela was finally laid to rest in the lush green hills and valleys of Qunu, his childhood home... This time last year my sister Jacqui and I travelled there to try and discover what it was about this place that made Mandela the man he became and provided him with a framework for leadership from which he could draw forever.
Tammam Azzam doesn't claim to be a representative of the Syrian people, but neither does he want to be treated as an individual. He wants to be one his fellow countrymen. And yet, as an artist, individuality is a necessity if one is to make a living. Perhaps that is why his first solo exhibition in London, I, the Syrian, a collection of surreal digital collages, bristles with defiance, paradox and tragedy.
With the recent loss of Nelson Mandela, South African found its voice - and during the memorial service, its silence - in Desmond Tutu. He was Mandela's ally through so many decades of struggle. He remains a hugely respected scourge of the world's wrongs, and irrepressible champion of the oppressed.
All any of these families want is to go home, to return to what they knew, to resume normal lives. The only way this will happen is for the conflict to end, for peace talks to begin to allow a safe return to pick back up the lives left behind. No one is suggesting that is likely to be any time soon.
On Thursday 12 December Bangladesh hanged the Islamic leader, Abdul Quader Mollah, despite pleas from, among others, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. CNN reported that two UN human rights experts called on Bangladesh to halt the execution "because of concerns that Mollah did not receive a fair trial".
I sent Shaker Aamer the sermon Reverend Nicholas Mercer delivered in October which denounces the UK's involvement in the tortuous and horrifying tactics used in the 'war on terror' and its continued denial of justice to those still subjected to those same practices. Shaker, clearly touched, wrote back almost immediately.
Solidarity with oppressed people is critical - it can make all the difference. The first time I saw Nelson Mandela was a few months after his release, in June 1990, when he came to a meeting of European charities in Strasbourg and thanked us for our support during the years of struggle. He knew the difference that support had made through those difficult times.
The amount of money now washing around Asia and the seemingly unquenchable demand there for ivory, particularly in countries such as Vietnam and China, has caused the price charged on the black market to soar. Indeed in many places ivory is now worth more per ounce than gold. The result has been an almost unprecedented slaughter on the savannahs. Some 100 elephants are being killed per day in Africa, and at present rates of poaching the surviving population in the wild risks being decimated within a decade. Chad had 15,000 elephants. Now it is 400.
With all the hullabaloo coming from the Tories about human rights, it's too easy to forget that the 1998 Act recognised rights of the victims of crime long denied under English law. If we were to allow the Chris Grayling and his cronies to tear up the Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights from which it is derived, we would set back the cause of victims' rights by decades.
So, do we write off countries like the Philippines as simply 'disaster-prone', and ready our emergency relief teams for the next Haiyan? Absolutely not. We must act now on the knowledge that climate change is driving an increase in extreme weather, and provide better protection against the impact of climate-related disasters.