Personal blog of Derek and Margaret, now living in Dominica, W.I., founders of Ozone Zone – an Independent Canadian book publisher specializing in coffee table books of architectural treasures and lush gardens. We also promote fine artistic photography. This blog contains unofficial reports and comments from our various trips, photo sessions and jobs – an unofficial scrapbook of our travels, explorations and photo-related work. See “about” for more.

Posts tagged ‘gardening’

Bequia, a Feast of Colour – Ozone Zone’s New Book

Port Elizabeth harbor front, 1979, “coffee stain” painting, collection Lou Keane, BequiaWhen he first came to Bequia, Peter didn’t have any paints. He used pens and ink. He made paint from instant coffee mixed with water. He’d make a little painting, sell it, and when that money was gone, he’d paint another picture. This one shows the SIMONE V, a Guyanese wooden sloop trading between Barbados and Bequia. The Bequia Chandlery, now the Bequia Bookshop, is at the center of the sketch and the old Barclay’s Bank building, now Solana’s, is at the right. Empty steel drums lined up on the beach were filled with water and used as ballast. The little ground floor shop sold plumbing fittings.Nolly Simmons

Port Elizabeth harbor front, 1979, “coffee stain” painting, collection Lou Keane, Bequia
When he first came to Bequia, Peter didn’t have any paints. He used pens and ink. He made paint from instant coffee mixed with water. He’d make a little painting, sell it, and when that money was gone, he’d paint another picture. This one shows the SIMONE V, a Guyanese wooden sloop trading between Barbados and Bequia. The Bequia Chandlery, now the Bequia Bookshop, is at the center of the sketch and the old Barclay’s Bank building, now Solana’s, is at the right. Empty steel drums lined up on the beach were filled with water and used as ballast. The little ground floor shop sold plumbing fittings.
Nolly Simmons

We are excited to share with you some fresh good news:  We are just finishing a new book, which will be published by Ozone Zone. It’s again a Caribbean-related title, full of paintings by Peter Carr, an artist from Australia, who was fascinated by the beauty of Bequia, a small island belonging to St Vincent and the Grenadines. It’s actually much more than a book of paintings. A friend of Peter Carr’s, Julie Savage Lea, herself a fine painter living on Bequia, has put together some fascinating memories and comments by selected Bequia residents, and used them as descriptive reference for Peter’s paintings. The result is a colourful book telling the story of Bequia, its local traditions, important historical moments, treasures, local customs, and much more. You can get quickly drawn into reading this vivid story – it’s like visiting Bequia with a great guide, and having fine watercolours illustrate the story at every step you make.

Port Elizabeth, Bequia, 1999, watercolor, collection of Cedric Bourdereau, FranceUsed by pirates and the French and British Royal Navies in turns, the early settlement, a thriving port with limited fresh water, was initially called “Harbour Town.” In the ensuing years, nineteenth century whaling ships, mostly from New England, gave way to locally-built trading sloops and schooners. In 1937, “The Harbour” was declared “Port Elizabeth” by King George VI, in honor of his oldest daughter. By the 1950’s, charter yachts and motor vessels began to appear in the bay. Traditional fishing and boat building declined. Since the ‘70’s, bare boats and catamarans have become ubiquitous. Rental villas, construction projects, and tourism are now the economic forces in Bequia.Bob Berlinghof

Port Elizabeth, Bequia, 1999, watercolor, collection of Cedric Bourdereau, France
Used by pirates and the French and British Royal Navies in turns, the early settlement, a thriving port with limited fresh water, was initially called “Harbour Town.” In the ensuing years, nineteenth century whaling ships, mostly from New England, gave way to locally-built trading sloops and schooners. In 1937, “The Harbour” was declared “Port Elizabeth” by King George VI, in honor of his oldest daughter. By the 1950’s, charter yachts and motor vessels began to appear in the bay. Traditional fishing and boat building declined. Since the ‘70’s, bare boats and catamarans have become ubiquitous. Rental villas, construction projects, and tourism are now the economic forces in Bequia.
Bob Berlinghof

For us this new book is a natural continuation of our on-going Caribbean theme. Things tend to unfold harmoniously when you are working in the Caribbean.
We met Julie when working on our first Caribbean book ,“Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean”.  We had appointments scheduled nearby on the famous island of Mustique, and we heard about Julie’s studio by chance in our hotel. A quick decision, and a couple of hours later we were on a ferry to Bequia, to visit her in her studio – the charming Mango Cottage. In fact, I believe Julie Lea deserves a separate blog post. Yes, why not? In our next post we will profile Julie and her works – we will invite you to her Mango Cottage. It’s quite a unique place, we’ve dedicated a whole chapter to it in our Tropical Homes book.

Bow of WATER PEARL, built on Belmont beach, Admiralty Bay, 1980, watercolor. An earlier schooner with the same name, owned by J.F. and Reginald Mitchell, was finished near this site, in 1932In the late 70’s, Californian Chris Bowman and I were co-contractors for a 68-ft. traditional wooden schooner, WATER PEARL, built for Bob Dylan near the present Dive Bequia, just off The Belmont Walkway. We hired some of the best shipwrights in Bequia—Albert Crosby, Lincoln Ollivierre, Lanceford Hazell, Herbert Ollivierre, Gilbert Hazell. She was handmade with pride. Her ribs were Bequia white cedar curved to the right shape by the N.E. Trades. Her planking was Guyanese hardwood. Her bulwarks were dark as ebony and finished with gleaming brass fittings. It took three years to build her. We launched her on December 9, 1980, with an all day celebration.Five years later, WATER PEARL ran aground and sank off the coast of Panama. All of Bequia wept. “All...that...HARD...work!” said “Linky” Ollivierre. Nolly Simmons

Bow of WATER PEARL, built on Belmont beach, Admiralty Bay, 1980, watercolor. An earlier schooner with the same name, owned by J.F. and Reginald Mitchell, was finished near this site, in 1932
In the late 70’s, Californian Chris Bowman and I were co-contractors for a 68-ft. traditional wooden schooner, WATER PEARL, built for Bob Dylan near the present Dive Bequia, just off The Belmont Walkway. We hired some of the best shipwrights in Bequia—Albert Crosby, Lincoln Ollivierre, Lanceford Hazell, Herbert Ollivierre, Gilbert Hazell. She was handmade with pride. Her ribs were Bequia white cedar curved to the right shape by the N.E. Trades. Her planking was Guyanese hardwood. Her bulwarks were dark as ebony and finished with gleaming brass fittings. It took three years to build her. We launched her on December 9, 1980, with an all day celebration.
Five years later, WATER PEARL ran aground and sank off the coast of Panama. All of Bequia wept. “All…that…HARD…work!” said “Linky” Ollivierre. Nolly Simmons

Am I drifting away from the main theme – Bequia, a Feast of Color? Yes, perhaps – but as I just said, things about the Caribbean tend to unfold naturally, leading one to another. We are really excited about this new, upcoming book. Attention to detail and close collaboration between all the people involved in the production, made it a truly rewarding experience. I took all the  time to make sure all the paintings look in the book as close to the original as possible, and now it’s ready to go to print. It will be printed by our long-time partners, who stand behind the quality awards received by our Tropical Homes and Exotic Gardens books. Unfortunately, the printing, cargo shipping, and distribution all take time – and therefore this book will not be ready for Christmas. A pity, for coffee table books make really classy and elegant gifts. But there is always the next time, so let’s wait for this newcomer. It will be worth it.

cover-homes-600px-sRGBIf you like coffee table books as much as we do, and if you came upon our blog rather recently and are not familiar with our early posts – then perhaps I should introduce our previous Caribbean-themed books – which enjoy world-wide distribution, numerous international awards and 5-star reviews. Both these titles were multiple times on Amazon’s top-seller lists, and their various enthusiastic endorsements were our best reward for years of passion put into their creation.

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

The first one was Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean. San Francisco Book Reviews in 2010 called it “A book so thick and decadent you can almost feel the tropical warmth penetrating from the heady images.”
Another magazine wrote: “A delirious architectural tour of the most exotic and fanciful homes in the Caribbean, this exquisitely photographed collection of eye-popping residences is bursting with playfully challenging design. While the work featured might not be applicable to every home, getting lost in the images is a vacation in itself.

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

The sense of liberation and unbridled exuberance is nothing short of thrilling. This gets my vote for best book to curl up with in January when you want a respite from the Wisconsin winter. “ – (Robert Bundy, Milwaukee Home & fine living July 2010)
Readers seem to have a similar opinion, to quote one of Amazon’s: “This is a jaw-droppingly beautiful book; a feast for the eyes! It takes the reader into private worlds of exquisite gardens and houses, created by the most tasteful, sophisticated and (one assumes) wealthy inhabitants of this favoured part of the world.

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

Derek Galon’s photography is masterful – full of juicy colours, whimsey and entrancing details. Margaret Gajek’s text is both knowledgeable (she has a background in architectural history) and very readable. Highly recommended. Guaranteed to take you away from a dull, North American winter!”  (- Susan Scott). While spending an enormous amount of time and effort on producing this title, we never expected the reception to go to such degrees of enthusiasm, so these comments are really our greatest reward. You can browse this book, read more about it, and perhaps choose it as your perfect gift, on Amazon’s sites.

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

From Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean

Here are direct book links to three main ones,  where it is available at a big discount now:
Amazon USA
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK

Our next Caribbean title was born shortly after Tropical Homes. Exotic Gardens of The Eastern Caribbean followed the success path of our previous title, and even exceeded it with the prestigious Nautilus Book Award 2011. Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean - our next bookIt also received fantastic reviews and endorsements. Halifax Herald wrote: “If you’ve ever visited one of these islands, this is a wonderful keepsake; if you’ve never been, it’s a temptation to go.”

Another comment comes from a known British media celebrity – Stuart Hall from BBC, ITV ( It’s A Knockout, Look North): “It is a masterpiece, an amazing work of sheer artistry, imagination, and indeed of romance.”
Other artists shared this view: “It looks like a labour of love, and you have every right to be proud of it. And it’s amazing that this is bilingual too. Just on the first flipping through, we are already overwhelmed by the images and thoughts. Congratulations!” – Robert Bateman and Birgit Freybe Bateman.

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

Comments of other readers were similarly upbeat: “This book is well written and has stunning photography, superbly arranged and produced. For those of us who have enjoyed travelling to the Eastern Caribbean, these are the pictures we tried to take but couldn’t. This is the kind of book we want on the coffee table, to leaf through and admire.” “This book is absolutely gorgeous! We have it on our coffee table, and are so inspired by all the beautiful photographs. This book would make an excellent gift for anyone interested in gardening, or anyone who loves to daydream about living in the tropics!” (Amazon’s reader).

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

Exotic Gardens shows a wide selection of unique Caribbean gardens, and the final chapter demonstrates ideas for flower arrangements using tropical flowers, with step-by-step instructions for three unique flower arrangements, done by fine flower designers from Grenada, with their original comments. The book also includes an audio CD with one hour of Caribbean nature sounds, to offer an enhanced reading and browsing experience.  Yes, experience may be the word – and it was used in the most recent reader’s comment on Amazon UK site: “Exotic Gardens is more than just another coffee-table book; it is an experience. From small gardens to grand gardens, this tour through selected islands of the Eastern Caribbean is an absolute delight. The photography is nothing short of stunning, to which the insightful commentary is the consummate foil. For garden-lovers visiting the islands, this sumptuous volume is the perfect introduction to some of the rare and exotic plants that might be seen.”

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

This is perhaps the most fantastic review of our book ever, and it makes us truly happy. You can browse Exotic Gardens, read more about it, and perhaps choose it as your perfect gift, on Amazon’s sites.
Here are direct book links to three main ones, where it is available at a big discount now:
Amazon USA
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

Working on several projects at the same time, we missed seeing the newly added readers’ comments on Amazon and other bookstore sites. We discovered them only recently – and so we wanted to share all that with you. After all, this is the blog of a book publisher specializing in Caribbean coffee table books. We often share with you stories about our other trips, shoots and experiences – but Caribbean books are always an important theme that’s very close to us.

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

Announcing our new title made me also step back in time and introduce our previous titles to those of you who found this blog more recently. If you go back to our earliest posts, you will find stories from our first Caribbean trips, sharing the adventure of producing our first title.

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

From Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean

I hope you enjoyed this bit of retrospective, which is always very close to our hearts. In the next blog – more about Bequia artist, Julie Savage Lea.

Cheers! Until next time!
Derek

Photos of paintings copyright Peter Carr, Ozone Zone Books.
Other photos: Derek Galon – please respect our copyright.

Visiting Chosin Pottery Gardens – Once Again

It is hard to believe that it’s already a year since we visited this place for the first time! When enjoying this garden in August 2011, we decided to return here in autumn, to see and photograph this beautiful place in its full glory of of fall colours. So a couple of weeks ago we did just that.

Chosin Pottery Studio Gardens welcomed us with rain, fog, and unmistakeably late autumn mood. We remembered it lush and green, therefore this was the Garden’s new face for us. Quiet, misty, full of colourful autumn leaves, it was inviting to take nostalgic photographs, and I obeyed.

You can see our post from the previous visit HERE, therefore I won’t be writing again about the Studio and its owners. Let’s make this post more about photographs, passing seasons and returning cycles of nature.

Some images – quite intentionally – show the same spots photographed on the previous occasion, in summer 2011. We love it when a garden gives joy, offering its ever-changing beauty all year long. And the Chosin Pottery Garden does just that…
Thanks for stopping by, until next time!
Cheers!
– Derek

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Commentary: Derek Galon
Photographs: Derek Galon (please respect copyright)

P.S.
I just noticed a nice comment  one of readers of our coffee table book Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean wrote on Amazon’s site in UK (this book is available on all Amazon sites).
Such a nice comment, it really is the best compansation for long and hard work of our team – let me share it with you:

“Exotic Gardens is more than just another coffee-table book; it is an experience.  From small gardens to grand gardens this tour through selected islands of the Eastern Caribbean is an absolute delight.
The photography is nothing short of stunning, to which the insightful commentary is the consummate foil.”

Wow, thanks for this amazing comment!
Derek

Abkhazi Garden – The Garden of Love. (Victoria, Canada)


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When we arrived at the entrance to Abkhazi Garden, we both stopped for a moment as if afraid to open the gate. The reason for our hesitation was clear enough for us: we wondered – is this garden still as beautiful as we remembered? Or perhaps it is now totally changed, or has fallen  into neglect? We had visited Abkhazi garden several times after it was saved from the developers. Our humble donation was only a tiny drop in an immensely successful and quite heroic public fund-raising campaign in 2000, which led to the acquisition of the garden by The Land Conservancy.

Unique benches look like they always been there as an important part of this garden.


Slowly, we stepped into the garden leaving the city street behind us. We found ourselves in a woodland, under towering old rhododendrons and native Garry Oaks underplanted with lush ferns and hostas. As we were slowly walking a winding path through the garden, all our fears completely disappeared. We noticed how splendid the garden looks, cared for not only with expertise and knowledge but also with love.

Beautifully created, this spot brings to mind large vase full of freshly cut flowers.

Love and passion are ever-present here, making it quite a magical place. It is “the garden that love built,” love between its creators: Peggy and Nickolas Abkhazi who shared the same passion for their new piece of paradise, a safe haven in their rather dramatic lives. After their death, it seems like that love was carried on by all the people whose hard work and dedication enable the garden to flourish.  One of the first were Christopher and Pamela Ball who continued to keep up this world-class garden for the next 10 years.

Fine bird bath at the first wide vista near entrance instantly adds to happy feel of the place.

When the land was submitted for rezoning, Cyril Hume, a garden historian led the fund-raising campaign and the garden restoration. All the head gardeners who came after him shared the same passion and devotion to the project. Today, the garden is in the capable hands of Jeff de Jong and a group of impressively skillful  volunteers. As a result, Abkhazi Garden is resplendently beautiful.

Jeff de Jong talks about the garden

“For me, gardening is a work of joy,” says Jeff. “What you love doing – it’s not work. It is for me a privilege and honour to take care of Abkhazi garden. Peggy and Nickolas are always on my mind. I ask myself: is it something that they would approve of? I recently planted Magnolia grandiflora knowing that Peggy loved it and had it in this garden. In order to honour the Abkhazis I thought it was the important plant to have. In this garden the challenge for me is to preserve its sense of history, and yet still progress and move forward.”

Ponds look like colorful jewels mounted in greenery of the garden.

We finished our garden tour inside Abkhazi house, built by John Wade in the style of simple modernism. Broad glass windows offer spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains, while connecting the interior to the exterior spaces. Perhaps the most striking feature of the house is that organic flow with the surrounding landscape, perfected in architectural designs of the tropics. 

While working on our book ”Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean”, we were often fascinated by architects who mastered this skill of seamless integration of outside and inside spaces, like Oliver Messel, or Lane Pettigrew. Standing on a stone-paved patio, we marvelled at the brilliant layout of the garden complementing the natural landscape.

Peggy’s wish was that the garden was going to be seen by the next generation” comments  Jeff.  “Thanks to the Land Conservancy, it’s going to be seen by even more generations to come.”

Story by Margaret Gajek
Photography by Derek Galon

Another view at the ponds, where on a sunny day you can spot sun bathing turtles…

Thank you for stopping by. If you like this post – please click SHARE button or other media button you use.
Until next time, cheers!

 

Milner Garden and Forest, Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada

We wanted to visit Milner Gardens on Vancouver Island for quite a while, but as it is advertised to have hundreds of rhododendrons – we waited for late spring to see it in its full glory. The whole estate on its 70 acres of land was created around 1930 by an influential family of General Noel Money. At the heart of the estate stands an attractively designed house, built in style of old Ceylon colonial buildings.  (This fine house instantly reminded us of Castle Grant and Sunbury Plantation House in Barbados – places we presented in our book Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean).

Soon after the house was finished, the whole estate was sold to Ray Milner of Edmonton as a summer house. When in mid-fifties Ray married Lady Veronica FitzGerald – a British aristocrat from very influential family – the works on their large garden begun. Lady Veronica knew many fine British and Irish gardeners including Sir Frederick Moore, developer of gardens at Mount Usher. Using his works as inspiration, she created her Wild Garden secluded in an old forest growth, and overseeing calm waters of Qualicum Beach area.

It surely was very impressive and grand garden concept.  The winding road comes through wild forest to suddenly enter colorful area of blooming trees and bushes, and then leads to open space with a picturesque house overlooking wide ocean shore. Lady Veronica – and artist and painter – used her garden as inspiration for her works, opening it often to host other artists. The garden also remembers many prestigious guests, including several members of British Royal Family. Wishing to preserve the beauty of her garden for future generations, before her death Veronica generously ceded it to Vancouver Island University with intention of opening it to general public.

Now it is open to visitors by a rather steep $10 admission, advertised as Ancient Forest and Garden – perhaps to attract more paying guests. While the forest surely is old and beautiful, it is located in generally forested area and just a short drive from the famous Cathedral Grove, where one can see much more impressive and older forest for no admission fee.  Similar forest can be also seen on many hikes on Vancouver Island – but forest or no forest – we were eager to see the garden. So, we went through the shadowed path winding between old trees, and in some five minutes arrived at the garden gate.  It really lives up to its name of Wild Garden, as it blends with forest quite significantly.  We enjoyed some beautiful, old rhododendrons growing between huge trees, including some rare and impressive big-leafed species. Garden path passed little pond and descended slowly towards the house covered with wisteria.

Scented azaleas and magnolia trees surround the beautiful colonial house welcoming us with typical colonial style impressive, wide stairs. It now serves as a special venue and a tea house. The view from the front of the house is truly magnificent. Wide ocean shore is visible over juicy-green lawn. Narrow paths and nooks surround the lawn creating charming hiding spots for enjoyment of visitors.

However, despite undisputed charm we couldn’t stop to feel a sense of neglect to this place, that hard to describe impression that “the days of glory are over”. Many little details suggested skimpy maintenance, some trees and rhodos seemed overgrown and in need of trimming.  Many spots would do with some weeding.  Despite several gates to “keep deer away” we noticed deer grazing just at the house between magnolia trees – which is the heart of the whole garden.  One can argue that a wild garden should be left alone and live its own life. Of course – it is right, but to some extent. And, if it feels like in need of maintenance – it often simply is. We hope our $10 per head will be put to good use, and the garden will be well preserved for future generations as it should. Still a beautiful place to visit, but would Lady Veronica FitsGerald-Milner approve its keeping?  We can only guess…

Garden’s Web site:
www.milnergardens.org

Thank you for stopping by, and as always – if you like this post – please share on Facebook or other media you use. See you again soon.
Cheers!
Derek

Barton & Leier Gallery and Garden – Yellowpoint, Ladysmith, BC, Canada

When traveling – be it close to home or far away – we are always on lookout for interesting gardens. This time we were going for a weekend trip up Vancouver Island, here in British Columbia, Canada.
We wanted to see Milner Gardens in Qualicum Beach, advertised as very extensive and interesting, with hundreds of rhododendrons and other attractive plants. That will be theme of my next post, but today I want to share with you impressions from another garden we visited on this trip – a small jewel near Ladysmith, between Victoria and Nanaimo.

We found information about this unique place on-line. Created and cared for by couple of successful Canadian artists Nixie Barton and Grant Leier over last 18 years, it is simply extraordinary. It is also where their studio and gallery shop are located. So, we decided to stop for a short visit.
Well, this place did not disappoint, and our visit was much longer than expected. We were kindly allowed to enter and photograph even private parts of this unique garden, and our visual feast begun. From the very first moment, you sense really good and happy vibrations surrounding this garden. Creators had to feel really free and happy to come up with so many unusual ideas, making this place a visual orgy stimulating your mind. Not only it was cleverly planned with many unexpected vistas opening at every corner and angle, but the slightly crazy and untamed style of decoration proves to you at every point that really anything is possible in this place.
The flamboyant, artistic expression, and use of most eccentric props for decoration brought to mind another amazing garden – the famous Hunte’s Garden in Barbados, where the Maestro Hunte did let his imagination loose, and every step on his garden’s path opens new unexpected possibilities bringing new flavours. (You can find more on Hunte’s Garden in our recent coffee table book Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean).
Indeed, we felt a similar way of creative thinking here, at Barton & Leier Garden.


Only a free spirit, someone who lets one’s imagination fly high can come up with such colorful, inspirational and amazing space. From little décor pieces like a dozen of tiny elephants nailed onto a wooden rail, or a purple hippo immersed in garden pond, through impressive green painted human heads, and faces mounted in surprising locations – to a real yellow school bus – the garden is full of lively surprises impacting you on every step. Even the door to artists’ studio is decorated so extensively that it is hard to find an inch of bare space on it.
Once you enjoyed all amazing surprises in the garden full of scents, rich bloom and extravagant decor, you can enter the gallery – which feels like total continuation of the festive feel of outdoors. Really fine paintings created with great artistry and taste, colorful collages and other art work are offered for sale together with attractive and unusual trinkets, as well as with garden décor pieces you just saw outside the gallery.

We were sad to hear this slightly surreal masterpiece of garden and gallery enjoys its last season here , as the gallery and studio will be moved to Nanaimo. Well, at least we had the chance to see it at its final eighteenth season of activity.

If you have time – try to go there until it is still open. You may find here just the right piece of art for your home, and the garden’s sheer brilliance will surely cheer you up!

Barton and Leier Gallery Web site link.

More photographs we took when visiting this fun place.

Thank you for stopping by. As always, if you like it – click “share’ or “like” button. and, check us soon for more posts. Cheers!

All photographs copyright Derek Galon, Ozone Zone Books – no usage without written authorization please.

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