4

I Finished My Degree!

Hi guys!

I’ve gotten the urge to write a bit on my blog again and first thing’s first – I FINALLY finished my degree!

I know there’s only like 100 odd people who follow my little blog, and most of yous haven’t been here since my first posts, but I began this blog back in the winter of 2014, while on a foundation year for a degree in Physics & Astronomy at the University of Sussex. In total, I’ve been in further and higher education for the past 7 years – yes, SEVEN! At 19 years old, I jumped back on the education bandwagon after dropping out of school when I was 14, and am now 26 years old and have finally completed my degree. If you think about it, it actually ended up taking the expected amount of time – 2 years for GCSE’s, 2 for A levels and then 3 for a degree is the norm – and it took me 7 years too. I went a bit of a different route though – starting with a year doing intensive GCSE’s in Mathematics and English alongside an Access course to Higher Education in Biological Sciences, followed by a year spent on the foundation year of the Physics & Astronomy degree at the University of Sussex, followed by a year spent studying A level Physics & Mathematics from home, followed by a year spent on the foundation year of a degree in Physical Sciences at North Hertfordshire College, and then finally 3 years on a degree in Astrophysics at the University of Hertfordshire.

It’s been a very long journey, and I didn’t expect it to be such a long-winded, twisty path, but I think every step was necessary to allow me to be in the position I am now.

I’m hoping for a 2:1 – my possible degree classification grade range is from 56.5% – 74.9% based on my degree classification safety net and based on the 6 pieces of work I have left to receive a mark for. I was so dead-set on getting 70% (a 1:1, highest possible grade classification for a degree) for the entire time I’ve been back in education, but I’ve done my very best and I’d genuinely be happy with a 2:1 (60-70%). I think I’d feel pretty upset if I got a 2:2, not going to lie about that, and feel insanely happy if I somehow managed a 1:1 (EXTREMELY unlikely given the amount of questions I couldn’t answer in the 3 exams and that I’d need something like 90% or more in them to get a 1:1 overall at this point), but I feel comfortable with a 2:1, knowing that it was the best I could reasonably do without losing my mind in the process!

I can honestly say that I’m really, really flipping proud of myself aswell. For many different reasons.

1. I may be lucky to not have any extreme disabilities or any incredibly disruptive situations at home that would greatly impact my degree, but I have had a lot of mental health problems for this duration that have definitely affected my learning. I’ve also not had any friends or family nearby (actually, I don’t have any super close friends altogether) so my support system hasn’t always been the most in place. I’ve also experienced a lot of hurt in my last relationship for these past 7 years, including several break-ups, and a year ago our engagement was broken off. It wasn’t the path I wanted for the relationship, which has meant it has been EXTREMELY difficult to focus on my degree for this final year. Coronavirus has also impacted my exams and the majority of my second semester pieces of coursework.

2. I could have worked harder than I did during my degree, but I still worked harder than I thought a human would be capable of in the same circumstances I have been in honestly, and looking back, how good some of my grades are is actually shocking considering how extensively my mental health and personal life was impacting my life at the time, and I think it would have been entirely normal to have deferred the second half of this past year of my degree altogether.

3. Some of the grades I have received this past academic year include 100% in all 3 of my particle physics assignments (2 problem sets and a presentation), 96% in my condensed states of matter assignment ( a problem set), 95% in my space dynamics interim workbook submission, 92% in my computational physics star formation report, 92% in my quantum mechanics coursework problems, 90% in my quantum mechanics presentation and 90% in my cosmology practical.

4. My grade average for second year was 53% (I really struggled mentally last year and had to defer a lot of work – this also means this grade average doesn’t include the module Quantum Mechanics that I deferred to do that this year instead). My grade average this year (including the Quantum Mechanics module and its weighting, and not including any marks I haven’t gotten back yet) is 69%. I have raised my grade average in final year, the most challenging year of a degree and whilst struggling with mental health problems and a failed 6 year relationship, by 16%. I am so incredibly proud of that!

It’s been an insane journey – astronomy never ceases to fascinate me, and I’ve learnt about so many different interesting topics.

I’ve learnt what topics in astrophysics I really, really do not want to pursue unless it’s in my free time and is entirely non-obligatory, and the topics that really amaze me, and that I yearn to delve deeper in and explore further than I have done. It’s given me a bit of sense of direction, and I’ve learnt a lot along the way.

I’ve learnt that I sort of really do not enjoy being obliged to study pure physics topics, and would much prefer to learn and read about those topics in my free time. I’ve also learnt that I really enjoy (and am quite good at) data sciences, and aswell as still enjoying astronomy in general and astrobiology, I also really find cosmology fascinating.

I’ve learnt how important ecology is to me and the need for me to somehow integrate that into my life in order for me to feel fulfilled.

I’ve learnt that I am absolutely rubbish at exams and exam based,  face-to-face, taught, conventional education – and that that’s absolutely okay!

I’ve learnt I’m really, really good at coursework and research, and that I learn better with having just a few face-to-face taught interactions, and most of the time learn better and produce better work when I work fairly independently – at least for astronomy.

I’ve learnt that although I am capable, I’m not mentally well, and so I am less capable than a healthy person is and will therefore struggle more with the same work, and am likely to do worse in some pieces of work due to this despite working harder, and that that is also okay.

I’ve learnt that full time education is a bit of a pressure cooker situation for me due to my mental health, and leaves me with absolutely no time whatsoever to focus on any hobbies at all. I haven’t read a non-university related book in around 6 years. I haven’t played a computer game in maybe 4 years. I haven’t watched Star Trek – my favourite TV series of all time, in maybe 3 years. I’ve learnt only 10 seconds or so of a song on my guitar that I’ve had for 4 years, etc, etc, etc.

I’ve learnt the impact of my mental health on every aspect of my life, and that it absolutely must come first if I’d like to soon be capable of having enjoyable, fulfilling days.

I’ve learnt that I absolutely WILL stick to and complete anything I really want to, but that it will take a lot of time and work.

I’ve learnt that just because I am fully capable of commitment, not everybody else wants the same things as I do, and that I shouldn’t base my decisions on a life with somebody who thinks it’s wrong to prioritise love.

I’ve learnt that I am beautiful, inside and out, and that I only require myself to believe in that for me to feel it.

I’ve grown, and my life has changed a lot, but in other ways, it and me are exactly the same. Before I started my education journey, I was single, and am single again. I started it out without friends around, and again, don’t have any friends around me. I started my journey out homeless and again, I’m without a home. I started my journey off independent, determined and strong, and again, I am independent, and hopefully the determination and strength will come with a bit more time.

So, that’s first thing first!

TLDR; I finished my degree, it took me FOREVER, it was difficult because I have bad mental health and my relationship failed, but I’m hoping to get a 2:1 and am proud of myself.

– Storm

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The Start Of Revision

Hey guys!

This post is just one big ramble/rant about what my first step for revising for my final exams is going to be. Consider yourself warned!


 

As some of you may or may not know, I’m a student studying in her second year of a degree in Astrophysics.

I thought I’d come on here and write about how I plan to begin my revision for my end of year exams. I think sometimes taking the first step is the most difficult, so I want to make sure I have everything in order for when the time comes. Unfortunately, I won’t have much time to revise because the entirety of second year for me has been riddled with bad mental health spells and tons of coursework .

As an example, between the start of last Tuesday and the end of this Thursday we will have had 1 class test to revise for and 5 coursework deadlines (a class test in Optics along with four weeks of lecture summaries to hand in, a Differential Equations assignment to hand in, 10 hours of CV enhancement to complete along with an updated CV to hand in, a Nuclear Physics assignment along with a Quantum Mechanics assignment along with like 4 pieces of Python code to hand in and an observatory log book along with an observatory report to hand in).

So, as you can see, even within those pieces of coursework there are usually multiple components, so in that space of 9 days I will have completed 10 different components of coursework.

Which is difficult for most courses but let me tell you, Astrophysics is no joke.

Anyway, so I won’t have had any time to revise for the finals until I’ve handed in my last piece of coursework which likely won’t be until the deadline (Thursday).

I think the first step I’m going to take once I’m in my exam revision period is, before anything else, to give myself some self-care. I can hear some of you being all like “NO, DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME ON THAT WHEN YOU HAVE SO LITTLE TIME AS IT IS!”

Well I’m about to change your mind!

You see, with my crappy mental health and insane amounts of coursework, I haven’t even actually left the house since that class test last Tuesday – not even to go to my local supermarket (which is a 2 minute walk from my flat!) I haven’t been taking care of myself at all, and with my partner being in the same situation as me (not the best mental health and extremely busy with work) even the everyday things have really been swept to the side.

I will still be super busy with revision once I’ve finished with the coursework (as in, now I’m completing around 1.5ish percent of my overall grade in coursework per day, and it will be around the same  during the revision period in terms of what the final exams are worth vs the days I have to revise for them). However, I still really think this is the most important first step.

I just need to really quickly take a bath, y’know? I need to do the laundry. I need to tidy up. I need to take bags of clothes to the charity shop. I need to load the dishwasher. I need to leash train my kitten. I need to entertain my kitten. I need to create a revision plan. I need to take that VARK test and work out HOW I’m going to revise. I need to get my weight back down to what’s healthy for me. I need to stock the fridge with healthy food. I need to do a BIT of cleaning.

I don’t want to go nuts, but honestly, it really needs at least a bit of work because it’s like a mad house in here, and I have no idea how I could reasonably begin to revise without taking care of myself, my partner, my flat and my kitten in these ways first. I would just feel far too anxious and wouldn’t be able to leave the flat to go to the library to study anyway because I’d feel gross and wouldn’t want to leave the flat messy or leave my kitten needing attention, ugh.

It’s very stressful and really does need to be done, and I won’t be able to do it before then because I have 2 pieces of coursework to begin and complete within the next 2 days so I can’t really be thinking about revision before the 11th April, and only at that time onwards can I really revise…

So, hopefully you all agree with me now that this is the first thing I need to do once the revision period begins. I know logically it seems like the best thing to do would be to just fit in as much revision as possible considering how little time I have to study for these exams (one of my single semester modules contains 2 subjects (Quantum Mechanics and Nuclear Physics), and I only have 3 days to revise for each of those subjects), and I do see how this would ordinarily be the right thing to do. I just know that realistically, if I were to do that, I’d actually get less work done overall because I’d be super unfocussed.

I guess I could see that preparation as revision in itself? I mean, it isn’t REALLY, but then it sort of is because revision is technically anything that will bring your grade up in the exam right? All of this preparation will definitely ease my mind and make me far more comfortable which I think will definitely cause me to have a better grade in the exams!

I’ll just spend from whenever I give in my final piece of coursework until Friday for this preparation, so less than a day, which is enough time to make a real difference in creating a good, calm, happy and healthy brain environment for me to revise and not so much time that it actually does more bad than good. A good sweet spot.

So I have the first day of revision planned – I don’t really know what I’m going to be doing the day after but I guess that’s what the planning day is for.

Storm

2

Life Update :D

Hey guys, I know I’ve been blogging a lot less lately, so I thought a life update would help catch everyone up on what’s been going on!


  1. My partner’s mother got married a couple of weeks ago! It was such a lovely wedding in a beautiful hotel in Richmond (south west London.)
  2. My holidays finally ended and University has begun for me! This is the main reason I have been blogging a lot less lately. Successfully studying a degree in Astrophysics when you’re not very good at maths or physics is pretty difficult, and takes up a lot of your time. So far it is going okay and I’m not TOO far behind in my modules, although I could definitely be doing better than I am. I’m positive that it will all be fine provided that I get all my assignments done on time etc.
  3. I turned 24 on the 17th October! I honestly don’t remember my birthday extremely well – me and my partner decided to just stay in and eat some Chinese takeaway, so it was all pretty relaxed. We weren’t both home from Uni / work until around 8pm, so the evening didn’t last too long. I did receive some lovely gifts though – including some amazing Bose 35-II noise cancelling headphones! Perfect for those days when you REALLY need to focus. I always seem to zone in on little irritating sounds going on around me when it’s least convenient, so these are perfect!
  4. I think I only mentioned it briefly in one of my blog posts, but me and my partner went to Mallorca for 12 nights back in late August / early September! It was absolutely amazing and is the longest we’ve been abroad together to this date. It begun to feel like a second home and honestly, I just want to go back!
  5. I’ve been a lot less enthusiastic about Lush lately. I’m still working on getting through a lot of products, and whenever I do get through one I will still be writing a review on it. It just doesn’t feel AS fun anymore and although I still absolutely love the company, working on using everything up is beginning to feel more like a chore to me now. I’ve accumulated so many products that the thought of finishing them all just feels overwhelming honestly. I also discovered that the majority of my bath products (bath bombs, bubble bars and bath oils) became damp while I’ve been storing them, so a lot of them are sort of disfigured and needing to be used up ASAP. It’s just all become quite stressful honestly!
  6. As some of you may know, I’ve been struggling a bit with mental health problems for a while now (probably for as long as I can remember actually,) and I finally plucked up the courage to stop dismissing my issues and to make a trip to my GP. I booked the appointment, Richard booked the day off of work and 2 weeks later, me and my partner were sitting in a chair facing my doctor. It was an incredibly uncomfortable experience, but I’m glad I went.
    The outcome of the appointment is that my GP is now sorting out me getting on the waiting list to see a psychologist (to get a diagnosis,) and we have a form so that I can self-refer myself to talking therapy. I refused my GP’s offer to go on SSRIs – I can’t stand them! Instead, after doing some research online I came across Tryptophan (a natural amino acid your brain needs to synthesize serotonin,) which I’ve been taking 3g of daily since around a month ago. The tryptophan has definitely been working although it isn’t perfect, so I’d definitely like to look into more supplements to begin taking (vitamin D, vitamin B complex etc.) It also felt nice to just offload some of my feelings, even if the appointment was quite rushed!
  7. As most of you know, I went on my own little weight loss journey as of December last year, and finally completed it a couple of months ago. Maintaining the weight has been quite difficult actually, because I love food SO much! I’ve been doing alright though. In fact, how about I weigh myself right now to see how I’m doing?
    Okay, so my goal weight was 127.8 lbs, and that is exactly how much I weigh right now! Honestly though, I haven’t even eaten or drunk anything yet so technically, I should weigh a lb or so below that weight right now in order for my average weight to be 127.8 lbs throughout the day, but I’m doing okay!
  8. I recently reached 100 followers on WordPress! I had intended to open up a second social media account (perhaps Instagram) once I reached 100 followers on here, so that could very well be happening soon!

That’s all for now everyone! I hope you’re all doing well 🙂

See you next blog post!

– Storm

3

I Got Onto My Degree! Results + Treats.

Hey guys!

As some of you may know, a couple of years ago I dropped out of my foundation year for Physics and Astronomy, for various reasons. The next year, I applied for University again – and successfully got onto a foundation year for Astrophysics.

I have just completed that foundation year and, finally, I have actually managed to obtain a place on a bachelor degree in Astrophysics!

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I was pretty worried that I wouldn’t be able to, as I needed to achieve 65% in my Advanced Mathematics module – whereas I only achieved 62%. They’ve given me a chance, and I’m so grateful for that!

Here are my overall results:

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Here is a breakdown of my results:

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As you can see, I did pretty terribly in my final Advanced Mathematics exam (43%) – but I did SO WELL in my Statistics exam (90%)!

And here is the interpretation of my results (although this was just a foundation year, so my results this year don’t actual count toward my final grade):

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When I found out, the first thing I did was to call my partner – he was having some drinks with a colleague after work. That evening when he came home, he had brought me back a GORGEOUS bouquet of flowers, an AMAZING bottle of Rose champagne, and an absolutely DELICIOUS bag of Indian takeaway! What a treat! I just love how much it means to him when I achieve something!


As a treat to myself, from myself, I’ve decided that I’m going to do a Primark haul tomorrow. I’ll be heading down to the all famous Primark on East Oxford Street. My style has really changed over the past few years, and I have a lot of clothes that either don’t fit me right at all, that look bad on me, have become damaged or that I just plain don’t like anymore. I really don’t buy myself clothes very often, so I decided on Primark because if I shop there first, I’ll be able to get a lot of pieces at a low price – pieces that could very well be a lot more expensive elsewhere! I’ll also be able to actually try the clothing items on, and I much prefer high street shopping to online shopping in general!

So, I’ll be heading to the most popular Primark store that I have nearby, and I’m going to get there super early – like for 8:00 AM, so that I can pretty much have the store to myself. I’m so excited! I’m going to really make an effort to choose items that actually make me feel confident, and to not just chuck things in my basket without thinking. I don’t really have a specific spending limit, both because I trust in my ability to only buy the gems I find in the store, and because I genuinely need a LOT of new clothes! I don’t have anything specific in mind that I’m going to look for – Primark could have amazing shoes but rubbish dresses one month, but then have awful shoes and incredible dresses the next.

This is probably going to be the first planned haul I’ve ever done! I’ll of course be writing a Primark haul blog post tomorrow, hopefully with try-on photos, so look forward to that!

– Storm

0

30 Blog posts I want to write.

  1. How I’m doing on my Astrophysics course.
  2. How I’m changing up my appearance.
  3. My visit to Rome.
  4. My visit to Paris.
  5. My visit to Kas.
  6. My visit to Berlin.
  7. My visit to Glasgow.
  8. What life where I live is like – London.
  9. Life in Bulgaria.
  10. Dealing with metal health crap.
  11. My drive through Europe.
  12. MORE LUSH REVIEWS on every product I have used up!
  13. How I’m doing with my Birthday goals.
  14. Why Astrobiology and Astronomy resonate with me.
  15. How Science has always been what I’ve been best at.
  16. A post about my hobbies.
  17. The story of me and my partner.
  18. My travel dreams and wanting to relocate.
  19. Get ready with me – blog style.
  20. My entire Lush collection and some background on my Lush items.
  21. Why veganism.
  22. If I was limited in the number of places I could visit, where would I choose to go?
  23. My trip to the opticians – again.
  24. Best ways I have found to use FUN bars from Lush.
  25. How I use Lush Solid Conditioners.
  26. How I use Dusting Powders from Lush.
  27. Tattoos, piercings etc.
  28. Outfits.
  29. Keeping healthy.
  30. Why I love Lush.
    That’s all I can think of for now that I would like to post about!

    – Storm

0

Life and Blog Update!

Hey guys! 🙂

So, recently I feel like my blog has been really disorganised and I just want to make a little blog update post to clear everything up. This is just going to be a super general post! I will write about my upcoming birthday, my travels over the past year or so, how my education is going, how I’ve been thinking about updating my appearance and last but not least, I will be writing briefly about Lush.


23rd Birthday

The first things I want to post about are to do with my birthday. It is in fact my 23rd birthday this Monday (17th.)

This means a few things – on my 22nd birthday, I gave myself some goals that I wanted to achieve before my 23rd birthday. On my birthday I will try to blog about how I did with these different goals (I was pretty tough on myself, I think there were something like 30 goals…,) as well as possibly write up what my new goals will be to achieve before my 24th birthday! Having goals can be stressful sometimes, but I think it is really important overall for a person’s happiness.

When I turned 22, I actually cried because I felt so upset about the age I had just lost. Making myself goals made me realise that I can have a really exciting year and that I still have so much to look forward to in my life – which made me feel more young and at peace with my age. I am now happy to be 22, and will be happy to be 23 too – so long as I give myself some goals to achieve!

I haven’t looked at my list of goals for a while but I do know for a fact that I have not achieved most of them – although I have achieved some of the pretty important ones in my opinion. I’m going to do my best to squeeze in a couple more achievements before Monday though! Some I might achieve just after my birthday – for example, one of my goals was to brave it and get my first tattoo, which I’ve been thinking I could organise as a birthday present to myself sometime next week! 



Travels

The second things I’d like to talk about in this post are about my travels. I have failed to post about them, although I still do intend to do so soon!

I went to Italy last year in August – it was such an incredible experience! It was my very first travelly adventure with my partner and was my first trip abroad independent from my family. I have so many beautiful photographs and memories from that holiday so look forward to a post detailing it soon!

My partner also took me to Paris for Valentines day this year – again, another overall beautiful holiday that i’ll be sure to post about. We also went to visit my family in Glasgow in July of this year, and at the start of September I went on holiday with my partner’s family to Turkey!

So many adventures that I so badly want to share with you guys! There is just so much to say for every one of these travels and so many photographs to choose from, which is why I haven’t blogged about them yet – but I will!



Education

The third things I’d like to talk about surround my educational pursuits. When I first began this blog, it was definitely more orientated toward my studies, and over the past year has changed direction toward…well… Lush… Quite frankly, I have always thought of my blog as somewhere for me to write about whatever I want to write about – I made it for myself primarily, so I guess my blog posting activity just reflects where I am in my life at the time!

Anyways, so my education. Yes, I am still aiming to be an Astronomer and yes, I am still fascinated with Astrobiology. I am currently on a degree… of sorts… Well, I am on an “Initial Year”, which will lead me onto a degree in Astrophysics should I do well enough.

I applied through UCAS and am an official student of both the college I attend for the initial year and of the University that I will attend after the year is completed. The course I applied to on UCAS is stated as a 4 year degree, so technically I’m on a degree…? Or I’m on a course that includes a degree… I don’t know but either way, I’m on the course I need to be on 🙂

The university is definitely one of the ones that are actually worth applying to if you want to study Physics & Astronomy in the UK. When comparing entry requirements and the ranking of different universities, some are actually statistically more difficult to get into, yet overall are a worse university compared to others that are easier to get into. Why waste effort to get into a bad university, when that effort could be better spent to get into a good university? I don’t know, that’s just my opinion!

The University I attend isn’t the best but I feel it is definitely a good starting point. As long as I work hard and get the most out of the course as I can, I should be able to take my Masters somewhere a bit better. Everyday I make sure to get as much as I possibly can out of my course, and I’m really enjoying it so far! 



Appearances

The fourth updatey things I’d like to talk about are about appearances I guess.

I love septum rings, because I think they just make you look super adorable! They just look sooo cute! I mean, I think I look fine without one, but they add to the cuteness :3 I pierced my own septum around 18 months ago or so, but I pierced it kinda crooked so I’ll be redoing it soon!

If you are considering getting it done, I’d 100% recommend it. If you decide you don’t like it, the holes are inside your nose so you won’t see the scars, or you can just wear a horseshoe jewelry piece and flip it up inside your nose so that no one can see it! I think they look really cute though and that the piercing looks good with other piercings too. Considering piercings take between 4 weeks and 12 months to heal, the septum piercing is one of the fastest healers too (2 months!)

I’ve also wanted my navel pierced for the longest time. It’s a nice discrete piercing that looks both lovely by itself and with other piercings. I think they look super sexy and again, I think my tummy looks great without a navel piercing and I don’t need one to think my tummy is sexy, but the navel piercing does help! 

I quit dying my hair around 2 and a half years ago. Since then, I have been slowly cutting out any remaining dyed hair and finally, earlier this year I had no dyed hair left! Now I’m just enjoying growing my natural and healthy hair. I had been dying my hair since I was around 12 years old, and had never had a full head of natural hair since then and all the way up until earlier this year. That’s around 10 1/2 years of dyed hair! I thought I’d absolutely hate my natural hair colour but I actually really like it! 

As for the first tattoo I’d like to get, I think I’d like a tattoo that is on my side… It’s a nice and discrete location. I think I’d like it to be a tattoo that my partner designs – maybe a phrase he says to me but in his own handwriting, possibly a hand drawn image too.

A lot of people say you shouldn’t get tattoos that are to do with your partner, because you might split up and then want the tattoo removed. The thing is, even if we did split up, he has still been such a important part of my life and has brought me so much happiness. I share so many memories with him and no matter the circumstances, it remains true that right now he makes me happy.

I think I would never want a tattoo removed that symbolizes me being happy at this time of my life. I don’t need the tattoo, I feel secure enough without it, but I do think it will help make me feel more comforted and happy when he isn’t around. 



Lush

The fifth thing I want to talk about is Lush. 

Yes, the number of Lush posts I have been writing is slowing down. I haven’t purchased any new items since probably around 6 months ago. This is really sad, but it is because I have been on a tight budget for a while now, so buying Lush just isn’t as easy as it was before.

I still have plenty of products left to review in my home but I’m not using them as much. That’s because I’m busy but also I think because I know that once they’re gone, I might not be able to replace them. I’m still obsessed with Lush, I expect my next reviews to probably be on Yog Nog Soap, Jumping Juniper Shampoo Bar and I guess Rose Jam Shower Gel, just because those are the 3 items I am using the most at the moment.

I also still need to take photos for my reviews but again, I haven’t been to a Lush store recently. I’ll make sure I take some photos when I do next go!

Thank you for reading, see you soon!

– Storm