Union Flag Nail Art

Using Models Own Snow White, Models Own Nail Art Pen in blue and Andrea Fulerton Nail Boutique Stripe and Sparkle in red.

I wanted to get into the Olympic spirit and so have gone all patriotic this week. I actually used the white nail varnish as a¬†base¬†and added the red and blue on top, for the sole reason that I don’t have a dark blue nail varnish. But if you do I’d recommend using that as the base and adding the red and white on top.

I’m a bit of a flag pedant so I’ve tried very hard to get the diagonal red lines in the right places.

Go Team GB!

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Waxing Lyrical: Twenty Twelve

In the first of a new series of posts in which I am quite enthusiastic about things I like (not too different from my usual then) I am going to be talking about Twenty Twelve, a BBC ‘mockumentary’ about the run-up to the Olympic Games. The show ended last night after two successful series, and I’m honestly going to miss it.

For a start it’s got some amazing main cast members: Hugh Bonneville, Jessica Hynes, Karl Theobald, Amelia Bullmore, Olivia Colman, Samuel Barnett, Vincent Franklin and Morven Christie (I was actually just going to list a few favourites here but I seem to have ended up with the whole list; that’s how good they are). It also has David Tennant as the Narrator, who manages to steal scenes without being in them.¬†It’s had some great guest stars, including Nina Sosanya, Tim McInnerny and Jason Watkins, and cameos from people such as Sebastian Coe, Aled Jones and Tanni Grey-Thompson.

The characters are pretty much hapless or hopeless, overworked and¬†under-qualified, out of their depth and in at the deep end. Which is all perfectly recognisable, of course. And I don’t hate them, in fact I quite like them and want them to succeed. And mainly, over the two series, they do. The show isn’t meant to be cruel or depressing; we’re not willing these people to fail. They get away with their incompetence, they get things done and they get the Games ready on time.

Also, and this is important, I find it funny. Often mildly amusing,¬†occasionally¬†laugh out loud funny. The script is ridiculously good, and often subtle, so I don’t catch something first time round and have a lovely surprise when I pick up on it later. Each character’s language is full of their own catchphrases, from Sally’s ‘Not a problem’ ¬†to Ian’s ‘So that’s all good’. Usually I find catchphrases annoying but these ones are such a part of each character, sort of verbal tics that they can’t help saying, that I don’t find them quite so glaring. I actually didn’t notice how often Martin said ‘Classic’ until last week, and now feel a little stupid.

And Siobhan has a language all of her own.

But it’s really what they don’t say that makes this show special to me. The whole Sustainability/Legacy distinction has been a major part of the show since the beginning, and I still don’t know the difference between the two. But I suppose what I’m really getting to here is the relationship between Ian, Head of Deliverance, and Sally, his PA, who is hopelessly in love with him. It was never mentioned, only alluded to, and now the show has ended and we will never know for sure what happens. And I don’t want to. I really don’t. We’re not supposed to.

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Sir Patrick Stewart, Emperor of Torchbearers

Yesterday the Torch Relay passed through Croydon, my home town. My dad and I had planned to go to the High Street to see it, but when I read that Sir Patrick Stewart was going to be carrying the torch in a different area of town, I decided that we just had to go where he was.

I am a big Shakespeare geek so what better Torchbearer for me than one of the World’s greatest Shakespearean actors?

It was the perfect way to get me ridiculously excited about the Games. The atmosphere was amazing and we had a great view of everything; we were next to a park, there were lots of families having picnics, it wasn’t too crowded and everyone was friendly. The best possible spot, basically. And a wonderful, memorable day.

But I have an admission to make: I didn’t notice the torch. Or the flame.¬†¬†Sir Patrick Stewart could have been carrying a bunch of flowers for all I knew.

I’d like to say that the symbolism of the torch meant so much to me that the actual torch was insignificant in comparison, that I was carried away by the occasion, and that it is what the flame stands for as opposed to the flame itself which is important. And this would be great, and I could spend the rest of this post talking about hope, and teamwork, and friendship, and other such lovely things.

But I suspect that what actually happened is that I am not the most observant person at the best of times, and at this time I was in the presence of Sir Patrick Stewart.

A duck could have landed on my head and I wouldn’t have noticed.

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Black with White Tips Nail Art

Using Jessica Starlight Starbright and Models Own Snow White.

I first saw this design on Drusilla’s nails in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I think in Season 2 if anyone is interested) and have coveted them ever since. However I found it difficult to find a white nail varnish that was quite white enough on top of black.

As is evidenced from this post, I have found one! Models Own Snow White, and it only needed one coat.

I’ve previously done this with red tips, which I also like.

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Balloon Pig

I find this pig really cute, and although it requires quite a lot of twisting it’s simple once you get the hang of it.

I have a confession to make, though: I have yet to master the ear twist. I find it really difficult to get them to stay put; I know it will get easier with practise, but until then you’re going to see a load of freaky-looking ears on this blog.

The pig also uses a tulip twist for the snout; this is when you push the knot inside the balloon and twist to lock it in place. A little tip here for anyone with long fingernails like me (I know, I know, balloon modelling with long nails is just an accident waiting to happen): you won’t be able to use your finger for this like they do in the videos, as the balloon is likely to burst. I use a pen instead, normally the Sharpie permanent marker I use for eyes and stuff, as it’s quite thick and rounded at the bottom, but anything else of a similar shape will do.

All you need is a pink balloon and a permanent marker if you want to give him eyes. Feel free to look at the other videos this guy mentions, but I actually managed to make the pig without seeing them first.

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Balloon Parrot

A pretty simple balloon parrot, using a bird body, otherwise known as a roll-through. All you need is a balloon of any colour you fancy and a permanent marker.

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Review: My Fair Lady with the John Wilson Orchestra (BBC Proms)

Exactly one week ago I was at the Royal Albert Hall to see the John Wilson Orchestra perform a ‘semi-staged’ version of My Fair Lady, so I thought it was about time I got some thoughts down about it.

For a start, the term ‘semi-staged’ is a bit of a misnomer; I think ‘almost-completely-staged’ would be better. The cast wore costumes and used props, there was plenty of choreography, and there were even sets, sort of (for example Henry Higgins’ office consisted of a desk, a couple of chairs and a sofa). The only really big difference between this Prom and a fully-staged productions was the massive amazing orchestra behind them.

My view of the stage from the front row of the Arena.

I love the John Wilson Orchestra so I knew there was a pretty great chance I was going to love this, and when I learnt that it wasn’t¬†going to be televised (due to copyright issues) I decided I would have to be brave and go in person. I queued for ten hours to get in the front row of the Arena, but it was completely worth it.¬†I’ve never actually seen My Fair Lady before (don’t judge me!) but I know Pygmalion pretty well so I knew the story, I knew about the changed ending and I knew most of the songs. It started off with a short overture but that was pretty much the only time the orchestra took centre stage; the rest of the time we were transported by the action going on in front of them.

The cast were uniformly excellent. I can’t even begin to imagine how terrifying it must have been for them to put on a major show like this with only one performance, one chance to get it right and no chance to settle in, but I thought they coped really well, and although there were inevitably a few mistakes, mainly of timing and words, it never detracted from the show.

Anthony Andrews made a funny, grumpy Henry Higgins, and Annalene Beechey was a feisty, intelligent Eliza. They were wonderful leads and I really enjoyed their interpretation of the relationship between the two characters. Colonel Pickering was my favourite character in Pygmalion and James Fleet more than did him justice in My Fair Lady; he made some mildly amusing lines seem completely hilarious to me and I thought his comic timing was impeccable. Sian Phillips was extremely funny as Mrs Higgins as well, and got all the best lines.¬†Julian Ovenden was playing Freddy, a part rather small for an actor of his brilliance (which goes the same for the always first class Jenny Galloway as Mrs Pearce), but his On the Street Where You Live was one of the highlights of the evening (I swear he’s one of my favourite singers EVER). But then with a one-off concert performance like this you do get really great actors in proportionally small roles.

So now we get on to Alun Armstrong as Alfie Doolittle. I already knew he was brilliant. I’d heard him do his Thenardier in Les Miserables so I wasn’t surprised by his musical greatness either. But omigod he was great. I’m Getting Married in the Morning was, for me, THE highlight of the evening, had the audience clapping along and got the biggest cheer at the end.

In addition to this excellence we had a great ensemble cast playing the other roles; the programme states that they include West End performers, recent drama school graduates and a member of the show’s original London production. It seems a shame to single anybody out but I enjoyed Nigel Richards as Zoltan Karpathyl ( I’m pretty sure I remember him from There is Nothing Like a Dame in a previous John Wilson Prom, and I¬†think¬†he is the one who sang ‘substa………toot for’) and also John Stacey and Stephen Matthews who formed a wonderful triple act with Alun Armstrong.

As can probably be seen from the above, I really enjoyed this Prom. There were a few slight problems: occasionally the microphones (the cast were wearing ‘Madonna mics’) didn’t seem to be turned on in time for when the actors started speaking, but overall I was pleasantly surprised by the sound; I was slightly worried that from my position I’d only be able to hear violins. When listening on the radio afterwards it did lose a bit of its brilliance as well, but only occasionally; they had a wonderful fire device thing which Eliza had to speak in in Scene 5 to practise her Hertford, Hereford and Hampshires, which had to be seen to be appreciated, and at one point Alun Armstrong took the conductor’s baton and John Wilson used a fan instead. But overall I hope the story and the amazing talent on that stage came across.

I can’t wait for the next John Wilson Prom, The Broadway Sound, on August 27th. I’ll be glad to see the wonderful orchestra take centre stage again, but as an addition to the Prom schedule I couldn’t be more ecstatic that the My Fair Lady Prom exists, that it was a success, and that I was there.

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Watchmen Nail Art

Using Barry M Yellow, Blueberry Ice Cream and Spring Green; Models Own Nyla Nude; Rimmel Double Decker Red and Perfect Plum; Models Own Nail Art Pens in yellow, blue, black and white.

For my third ever attempt at proper nail art I was a little over-enthusiastic, but I wanted to see what I could do. I love Watchmen so I used that as a basis and sort of used specific panels and characters as ‘inspiration’. The result is a little over-the-top but I’m quite pleased with what I could do given time. The left thumb nail is supposed to be Rorschach’s face by the way; it went slightly wrong…

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Yellow Nail Art

Using Models Own Snow White, Barry M Yellow, Jessica Starlight Starbright (black), and Models Own Nail Art Pens in white, yellow and black.

My first attempt at my own design and the first time I’ve ever had yellow nails. I’ll probably try some similar designs in the future but maybe keeping each nail the same as I think it looks a little cluttered. Looks good from a distance, though, and I had some nice comments from friends.

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Strawberries Nail Art

Using Rimmel Double Decker Red, Barry M Spring Green and Models Own Nail Art Pen in yellow.

This was my first ever attempt at using nail art pens and as you can see (Or can you? This image is a bit rubbish…) I wasn’t at all adventurous and just added little yellow dots. The strawberries were in honour of Wimbledon a few weeks ago, but it isn’t my own design; I’ve seen many people with the same.

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