Surfing the Sea

Established 1995

My Story… — July 7, 2015

My Story…

Since I haven’t introduced myself in the last post, I’ll do it right here.

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My Art vs. Artist

My name is Sabrina Gardiner, born in 1995 in the north of green England. From the fledgling age of two years old, I always loved to put my pencils (or at that time, a felt-tip pen) on to pieces of paper to reveal the machinations of my imagination to the outer world.

Once I’d grown out of the phase of scrawling uncontrollably about all over my canvases (which included walls), I began to morph those marks into intelligible characters. My specialism was creating fan stories of my favourite cartoon characters, personifications with flags and educational books.

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The big change came for me when I turned 11 years old and moved to the far-flung country of Colombia. During the year and a half I lived over there, some of the mainstays of my characters would develop, as with a fascination with the months of the year that would last me a good couple of years.

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As I grew into my teenage years and returned to England, I needed to create more realistic characters while at the same time keeping that unmistakable fantasy feel. At this time, I had re-ignited my interest in geography after going on a road trip around the south of England, and so began on a mission to personify every place in every country, beginning with my green homeland.

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Completing (or mostly completing) my personification throughout England, the next logical step would be to go stateside and get on to personifying the United States. But I added a new twist that I hadn’t done with England – personify each state as well as the cities and towns they contained. This allowed me to explore even deeper into the country’s geography by looking at the cultures of each state to see what made each one different.

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But the real passion of mine started with me taking a detour at the cinema when the movies I was watching got mixed up. From there, I came across Canada.

Initially creating just one character as I did not expect to become too interested in Canada, the country suddenly began to take over, effectively ending my exploration of the States. At first I did not want to become interested as I wasn’t too much into Canada, but it then grew on me, eventually becoming my most favourite country.

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As I began to work more and more with Canada, a personal goal of emigrating over there began to form, which I still hold today and hope to realize in the near future. Every new artwork I create for the country makes my wish stronger and more determined to make my Canadian dream a reality.

Although I’ve been drawing characters for as long as I can remember, I only recently started to bring them to life on the screen. Initially creating short animations to hone my animating skills, these then evolved into fully-fledged episodes, one of which I am hoping to create a voiceover for. My ultimate dream is that these will eventually transfer to the small and big screens to capture the imaginations and inspire generations of animators to come.

And live in Canada, of course.

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Vancouver in the Rain with an Umbrella (2017) — November 20, 2017

Vancouver in the Rain with an Umbrella (2017)

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Rain. Everybody hates it. Except gardeners, farmers, people who live in unrelentingly hot countries, and people who love dancing in the rain and jumping in puddles. But without rain, the Earth would be a barren, torrid land of hard, baked mud – not to mention people would quickly become bored of it was sunny all the time.

Art always seems to evoke more emotions if it’s set in rainy rather than sunny weather; there’s something about grey and black cloudy skies that seem to resonate gloom and doom in people’s minds.

I was half-intending that with this drawing I quickly drew up in one afternoon. Vancouver of Canadian Boys is in the starring role as the man (or rather teenage boy) with the umbrella, shielding himself from the pouring rain while sadly gazing into his reflection in a puddle below.

While I partly wanted to draw something rainy in contrast to most of my sun-kissed art (and I love drawing umbrellas), I also wanted to make a joke on how Vancouver is popularly believed to be the rainiest city in Canada, not too unlike Seattle south of the border. This is something I first played on way back in 2010, with the short skit Seattle vs. Vancouver. Drawing Vancouver’s reflection in the puddle was also a fun little artistic challenge, and it adds a small sprinkling of realism to an otherwise cutesy cartoonish sketch.

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Vancouver isn’t alone all cold and wet for long, though. About a week later, I followed up by giving the drawing a more positive vibe by making his girlfriend, Victoria, join in carrying her own umbrella and giving her boyfriend some much-needed warmth.

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Vancouver Burnaby & Victoria Johnson

I even created a short comic page giving a bit of a story connecting the two drawings, inspired by a Project Canada comic I had seen some time before online, starring Manitoba and British Columbia:

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Vancouver Burnaby & Victoria Johnson

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Canadian Boys: Character Profiles L-O — November 16, 2017

Canadian Boys: Character Profiles L-O

  • Laval

Laval is a 14-year-old French Canadian Girl. At home, she is cared for by her father Dorval, but when she is outside, she is Gatineau’s sidekick, comprising a duo of French Canadian villains. She frequently pursues Montreal because he shares her age and she wants him as her boyfriend, but his feelings are not mutual. When she catches even a tiny glimpse of her love interest, her eyes sparkle a bright shade of violet, and she will not give up the chase – literally – until she gets her hands on him. This causes Montreal to cry, and when he firmly tells her he does not want to be her boyfriend, she also bawls uncontrollably. She is bilingual in both English and French, often blending the two languages together in a Quebecois dialect. Laval is dearly loved by her father despite her mischievousness, sleeping beside him at night.

  • Lethbridge

Lethbridge is a 23-year-old man. He usually wears a white shirt, navy-blue jeans fastened with a belt and a pair of leather-brown cowboy boots with gold-spurred heels. For special occasions, however, he dresses up completely in a traditional cowboy outfit, with a Stetson hat, lasso, replica gun and sheriff’s star badge engraved with his full name, Lethbridge Stafford. If he suspects that someone has been causing trouble, he will catch them in the act by netting them with his lasso and a triumphant yell of “Yee-hah!” He eats a great deal of meat, especially ribs, and loves to slather it with lashes of smoky barbecue sauce to further enhance its flavour. His house, built entirely out of dark oak wood, is actually a historic ranch that was inhabited by cowboys in the city’s pioneer days, and it even smells like one. Lethbridge sleeps on a haystack at night.

  • Limoges

Limoges is a black 22-year-old French Canadian man. He cares for his newborn son Plantagenet with his wife Midhurst, and he is very benevolent. He is bilingual, speaking in both English and French, and frequently blending the two languages together. Limoges teaches French to his wife and son daily, even using many endearing terms in both of his native tongues. He caresses his smooth skin to show his kindness. Limoges sleeps together with Midhurst and Plantagenet at night.

  • Lloydminster

Lloydminster is Halifax’s colleague. He wears a black suit with a white-and-bright red striped tie and a pair of black laced shoes, and he always carries his ‘beloved’ suitcase with him. He works in the same office as Halifax, and the two often exchange notes and messages while at their desks. Lloydminster follows his colleague’s code of conduct and healthy lifestyle by the book, always organized and polite, never arriving late or becoming distracted by side shenanigans. He is tied with Halifax for winning the most Employee of the Month awards at the office, though the boss is sure Halifax has won more. Just like Halifax, Lloydminster acts as an affirmative role model for other Canadian businessmen.

  • Longueuil

Longueuil is a fruit candy vendor. He blends vegan gelatine, organic fruit juices and natural beeswax in a glass bowl, then shapes the mixture into tiny squares and packs them into paper bags. He sells each bag of candies for only five cents each for maximum affordability. Longueuil is bilingual in English and French, giving him an advantage when dealing with his diverse customers, and his speech often blossoms into an English-Quebecois patois. Longueuil wears a rainbow badge on his shirt, meant to represent the many hues of the fruit he uses to flavour his candies.

  • Lunenburg

Lunenburg is an historian. He wears a pair of reading glasses, a soft red-orange robe tied with a sash, colour-coordinated trousers underneath, and a light orange flowing scarf. He carries his much-treasured history book around with him whenever he goes out to discover new historical artefacts and sites, which he records with his modern camera phone. He also loves finding out about his own history, researching genealogical records and drawing up family trees. His soft, thick chocolate-brown hair is streaked with slick silver, indicating his advancing age. Lunenburg is frequently seen at the Canadian Museum of History examining all the exhibits while sitting on his orange silk cushion and taking notes in his amber journal.

  • Mahone Bay

Mahone Bay is a lobsterman. He dresses in traditional fisherman’s fare with a cap, suspenders and black gumboots, and he sets up cages on the seafloor daily in which to catch lobsters and crabs. He believes in totally fresh local produce, so he interferes with his catches as little as possible from ocean to table, only keeping them in cold fresh water when on sale. Mahone Bay is able to tell a lobster’s gender simply from looking at them, and he is always careful to repatriate any pregnant female or small baby lobsters to ensure new generations can be born. Mahone Bay does not just catch the usual brick-red lobsters – in the past, he has caught blue, green and even white lobsters.

  • Mallorytown

Mallorytown is Brantford’s black wife. She cares for her mixed-race son Smithville together with her white husband, and just like him, she is of a very kind disposition, stroking her supple skin. Her speech is just as sweet, with “oh so good” being one of her mainstays. Mallorytown sleeps with Brantford and Smithville at night.

  • Markham

Markham is a 14-year-old on the autistic spectrum. Being cared for by his mother Port Perry, he is volatile and unpredictable. He does not speak, only grunting or making other unintelligible guttural noises to communicate. When he becomes excited, he flaps his hands and jumps aimlessly around the place, sometimes not seeing where he’s going. He cannot chew properly, so he often dribbles saliva all over his clothing. Markham bites his hands when he enters a state of anxiety or stimulation, which has left many tiny scars all over the skin.

  • Medicine Hat

Medicine Hat is a comedian. He is a ‘resident’ on House of Canada, telling all kinds of jokes and anecdotes to make his audience laugh themselves silly. He carries a cane and can instil fake fear in someone by simply pointing it straight in their faces. If any unwanted guests somehow make it onto the stage, he can scare them off with a good walloping. Medicine Hat frequently gets very hot, so he takes off his hat at regular intervals to cool himself down. He is a big fan of comic books and TV shows, dressing up as his favourite characters at conventions.

  • Midhurst

Midhurst is Limoges’ wife. She cares for her newborn son Plantagenet together with her husband, whom she learns to speak French from. She has begun to pepper her speech with morsels of French regularly, though she still has a lot of learning to do, and also shows her compassion by stroking her supple skin. Midhurst sleeps with Limoges and Plantagenet at night.

  • Milton

Milton is Burlington’s mother. He cares for him every step of the way, from waking him up in the morning, through making his meals, to tucking him in at night. She cries a lot over him, wishing for the days when Burlington didn’t constantly need her help for tasks he previously took for granted. She takes great care not to touch even one part of his left side, since that will cause him agonizing pain. Milton deeply loves Burlington despite him being partly disabled, stroking the right side of his body.

  • Miramichi

Miramichi is Clarenville’s 14-year-old girlfriend. She is often seen with her boyfriend at the Canadian Park, snuggled up in their sleeping bags on a lazy summer afternoon. She met him when he was strolling around the park looking for love, and they caught sight of each other. Being his girlfriend ever since, she is sweet, and loves to hum to herself. Miramichi shares a room with Clarenville at his house.

  • Mississauga

Mississauga is Oakville’s mother. She cares for her disabled son, feeding, changing, bathing and moving him around. She secretly wishes that Oakville was just like any other boy, but she is slowly starting to accept him for who he is. Mississauga’s life is filled with strains from her daily duties in caring for Oakville, but she is immensely proud of him as her son.

  • Mitchell

Mitchell is a 15-year-old wheelchair user. He has tightly-crimped curled ginger hair and freckles peppered across his face. He does not speak, so he instead uses a special system of communication that uses graphical symbols with the corresponding words to help articulate his needs and desires. Mitchell can use the bathroom with the appropriate aids and assistance, but he does have the occasional accident. Even without the ability to speak, Mitchell charms everyone who encounters him and get to know him in depth.

  • Moncton

Moncton is a tight-lipped young man. His face is permanently sunken into a serious angry glare, no matter what he’s feeling, and he never makes a sound or speaks a single word. He communicates with the same methods which Saint John and Bramalea use. Due to his inability – or unwillingness – to speak, and the fact that he perpetually looks solemn, other people think of him as being troubled and difficult. Nevertheless, Moncton owns an excellent knowledge of the world around him, and he clearly displays his intelligence when he observes miniature life through a microscope or faraway planets and galaxies in outer space through his telescope.

  • Montreal

Montreal is a 14-year-old French Canadian Boy. He has an older brother named Quebec, who cares for him. He speaks English when he is with the other Canadian Boys and his brother, but if it is just him and Quebec, he speaks French. He often gets chased by a French Canadian Girl named Laval, who is the same age as he is and will never stop chasing him once he is her line of sight, unless he lets her touch him. He often begins to cry when Laval touches him, but Quebec will always comfort him to make him feel better again. Montreal frequently mixes English and French when he speaks. Montreal shows a lot of love to his older brother, often saying to him in French that he loves him so much.

  • Moose Jaw

Moose Jaw is a brewer. He grows barley organically right in his backyard, then brews it with only the finest hops, yeast and spring water in wooden barrels, and finally pasteurizes it for extra shelf-life before distribution. He has christened this brew ‘Canadian Honour’, and no two bottles or cans are the same, varying in colour, strength and even flavour. His beer is sold directly to customers at his brewery, and at pubs, clubs, bars and superstores throughout the city. Ironically, despite being in the business of brewing beer, he refrains from drinking alcohol. Moose Jaw’s beer is certified as ‘real Canadian ale’ by the City of Canada Beer Association.

  • Nanaimo

Nanaimo is Fredericton’s assistant and sidekick. He squats down beside Fredericton when he is working at Fredericton’s Fantastic Funhouse, although he does not seem to do any kind of tasks. As a villain, he is much more productive, travelling around with Fredericton to cause huge chaos to unfortunate citizens, or occasionally alone. With a cry of “Nah-nai-nai!” he can invoke the element of nasty surprise in unsuspecting and oblivious victims, and warn them of his presence. He also says it when he laughs, to greet people, or to annoy Fredericton. Vancouver is his frequent kidnapping victim, being easily taken advantage of because of his gullibility, but he always somehow manages to escape back to his family. Nanaimo has a bit of a sweet tooth for Nanaimo bars, keeping a secret stash with him to snack on when he needs some energy.

  • Napanee

Napanee is Toronto’s mother. Like her husband Deseronto, she wears glasses and carries a dark walking stick with a pink rubber bottom. She also knows that her son is very famous due to his flairs for singing and dancing. Toronto pays regular visits to her home, and Napanee says she’s amazed at how far he’s come in his life, imagining him as an ‘angel from Heaven’ who descended to Earth and was literally born to dance and sing. Napanee listens to her radio with Deseronto daily, and if one of Toronto’s songs comes on air, she will whisper to him that’s her son showing off his magnificent voice.

  • Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is a mermaid. She lives in the blue depths of the sea with her young daughter Niagara-on-the-Lake, with her second abode under the Canadian Lake. While she mostly stays underwater, she does step onto dry land every now and then, assuming a more humanoid appearance to hide her marine identity. In her mermaid form, she can safely swim around for hours on end without the human danger of drowning. At night, Niagara Falls sleeps with Niagara-on-the-Lake in a secluded but cosy sea cave.

  • Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara-on-the-Lake is Niagara Falls’ 4-year-old daughter. Like her mother, she is also a mermaid, living together under the sea and lakes. She occasionally comes to dry land with her mother, taking on the form of an ordinary human girl. As a mermaid, she can remain underwater for long periods of time without ever drowning. Niagara-on-the-Lake sleeps with Niagara Falls inside their secret sea cave at night.

  • North Bay

North Bay is a young man who thinks he was actually born into a female body. His wardrobe is filled with what would usually be considered women’s clothing, and his usual garb is a navy blue dress with a somewhat short skirt and black high heels. North Bay loves to admire his looks in the mirror, try on ‘girly’ clothes, make-up and jewellery at the mall, and create collages and ideas in his fashion sketchbook from magazine clippings. When he needs to take care of his business, he uses the ladies’ room, and uses feminine toiletries and bath products. The giveaway of his ‘true’ gender is when he speaks, as he still hasn’t had any hormones injected or had any kind of reassignment surgery. His catchphrases often rhyme, like “I’m North Bay! I gotta lotta say!” North Bay keeps a secret album of photos that were taken during simpler times, which he sometimes reviews for something of a poignant hit of nostalgia.

  • Oakville

Oakville is Mississauga’s 14-year-old wheelchair-bound son. Cared for daily by his mother, he does not speak and cannot control either his dribbling or his bodily movements. He is very unpredictable, and has habits of jerking, flapping, spitting, and making strange noises. Despite being a burden on Mississauga, she is immensely proud of Oakville as her child.

  • Orillia

Orillia is a model. She has a dark mole on the left side of her neck and a freckle just above her top lip. She values her imperfections, saying they add even more beauty to her figure. She follows Regina’s body-positive movement and philosophy, meeting up with her at regular demonstrations and even showing off new outfits at the Canadian Alternative Fashion Week, championing ethical and eco-friendly garments. Orillia helps to empower other girls and women just like her role model.

  • Oshawa

Oshawa is Ottawa’s father. He has bright turquoise mascara on his eyelids, and he cares for his son, acting as his personal assistant behind the stage of House of Canada. He knows that despite Ottawa’s young age, he has already gained the status of a celebrity, and he is amazed at what his 9-year-old son can do on TV. Oshawa shows a lot of love and care to Ottawa, touching and stroking him amiably and using various endearing terms, such as his favourite, ‘dear’.

  • Ottawa

Ottawa is the protagonist of Canadian Boys. He usually wears a Canadian flag outfit with a red maple leaf printed in the middle of his shirt, but when it’s ‘showtime’, he wears a black suit over a red shirt with a matching-colour bowtie and ribbons. He presents House of Canada, a show that lots of Canadian Boys like to watch – being only nine years old, he is the youngest ‘star’ of a ‘Cities & Towns’ show. Ottawa loves ‘every way of having fun’, and he often makes up cartoons to air on House of Canada. Ottawa is cared for by his father Oshawa, who helps him in preparing for the show, and who loves to watch his son present ‘the show the whole of the city of Canada loves to watch’.

Remembrance Day 2017 — November 11, 2017
Dartmouth and Jollimore’s Alolan Adventures: Prologue — November 7, 2017

Dartmouth and Jollimore’s Alolan Adventures: Prologue

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Notes from the Author:

After playing through Pokémon Sun, I became inspired by the wonderfully tropical islands, beaches and oceans of the Alola region. After writing Life is a Beach starring Dartmouth and Jollimore, and seeing as Alola has some golden beaches of its own, I thought it’d be amusing if the two teachers embarked on a summer vacation there and got involved in the island challenge, which provided a great opportunity for their usual antics. Which one of these two will become Alola’s first-ever Champion?


The Skype dial tone rung out from Jollimore’s sleek black laptop as he slipped his equally-dark thin blanket down to his lower torso. The emerging white light from opening the upper screen further up shone like a bright flashlight onto Dartmouth’s still-asleep face, irritating him awake. “Ugh… What, Jollimore…” he groaned lowly, shielding his sleepy eyes from Jollimore’s laptop screen with the back of his hand. “Shh, Dartmouth, this is a very important call,” Jollimore hushed him. “We gotta sign up for the Alola League.”

“Alola…?” Dartmouth trailed off, being shushed again by Jollimore. His answering was greeted by a webcam video of Professor Kukui, whose half-bared figure was somewhat sinisterly illuminated by the bright white backlight from the monitor. “Hello, Alola!” the Professor greeted Jollimore, waving to him over the camera. “Alola, Professor Kukui,” Jollimore returned his greetings, waving too. Dartmouth stared out towards them with widened eyes of disbelief.

“So you’re coming to Alola to become Pokémon Trainers, yeah?” the Professor asked Jollimore and Dartmouth. “And you’ll also be getting your Pokédexes and your amulets that are proof of your participation in the island challenge.” “Pokémon Trainers? This is like Pokémon Go all over again…” scoffed Dartmouth sarcastically. “No, we’re going to be Pokémon Trainers for real this time. Won’t it be exciting?” Jollimore grinned, and Dartmouth gruffly nodded.

“Okay, I’m gonna need both of your names for your Trainer Passports. They’ll record all your adventures and achievements here in Alola,” said the Professor. Dartmouth shuffled across the bed closer to Jollimore, his white sheet-thin blanket still wrapped across his naked torso. “I’m Dartmouth. Dartmouth McKinnon-Graham,” Dartmouth stated. “And I’m Jollimore. Jollimore Ferrison,” Jollimore followed.

The Professor wrote down the two teachers’ names onto some paper, the tiny scratches audible through the camera. “Alright, now let’s take your pictures. Sit in the square.” Dartmouth felt edgy as he glimpsed down at himself, seeing deep red ingrained scars. “With a body like this, I’m not exactly photogenic…” “Oh, Dartmouth, it’ll only be from the neck up, you won’t see anything else,” Jollimore reassured him.

“Okay, you two sit together as still as you can…” The Professor readied his camera while Dartmouth and Jollimore sat up straight in front of the screen, Dartmouth scowling and tightly crossing his arms. Jollimore smiled, without grinning, and the camera flashed vibrantly, snapping their photos. “I’ll crop your faces separately,” said the Professor.

At that moment, a sole ray of amber sunshine sneaked through the closed curtains, tinting the room with a light orange. “Ah, dawn’s breaking. Alright, I’ll be awaiting your arrival in Alola, hopefully very soon,” noted the Professor. “And then you’ll get to start on your very own journey with Pokémon!” “Okay, Professor, see you later,” Jollimore bid goodbye. “See ya,” the Professor replied, and he signed off. Jollimore clicked the laptop lid closed, and gave Dartmouth a playful jab in the shoulder to spur him on. “Gah, I just wanna go back to sleep…” he groaned, trying to fall back onto the bed. “Hey, good Pokémon Trainers always start early,” Jollimore winked, and he arose to have a refreshing shower and get dressed into his summer attire.

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Canadian Bonfire Night Spectacle (2017) — November 5, 2017

Canadian Bonfire Night Spectacle (2017)

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What is Bonfire Night? This celebration is big in England, but almost unheard of throughout the rest of the world. Held every fifth of November, Bonfire Night commemorates the day in 1605 when Guy Fawkes and several other Catholic conspirators were stopped in their plot – the Gunpowder Plot – to cause an explosion at the Houses of Parliament in London, in an attempt to violently and fatally dethrone the then-King of the newly-united Kingdom, James I. There has never been another attempt since, but the vaults are still searched at every opening of Parliament each day just in case someone has managed to sneak through.

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The mainstay of Bonfire Night, however, are giant displays of fireworks and the eponymous bonfires, on which an effigy (a huge doll-like figure) of Guy Fawkes is burnt. In days gone by, children would walk around knocking on people’s doors to ask for a “penny for the guy”, though this has decreased in recent years due to the fear of stranger danger. Toffee apples on sticks lashed with gluey caramel, candyfloss and flame-roasted chestnuts are favourite snacks to munch on while watching the fireworks.

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While Bonfire Night is very much a British tradition, it has managed to find its way to some other countries around the globe, including Canada. This gave me an idea for a drawing…

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Canadian Boys – Bonfire Night Spectacle

Inspired to get a gathering of Canadian Boys characters together to watch the fireworks, I mostly chose the lucky ones at random, though I wanted to include a select few straight from when my pen first touched the paper. I’ve never drawn a line of characters seen entirely from the back (to the viewer), so drawing this was something of a new challenge. The most fun part was colouring in the bonfire, allowing me to use a fiery range of reds, oranges and yellows, and lighting up the dark blue sky with fireworks drawn from metallic markers and glitter pens in rainbow colours for more realism.

Characters shown (left to right):

  • Stellarton
  • Port Hawkesbury
  • Pictou
  • Regina
  • Georgina
  • Jacksons Point
  • Halifax
  • Victoria
  • Vancouver (carrying a toffee apple and a tuft of candyfloss)

Happy Bonfire Night, and if you’re going out tonight to see the fireworks, have a safe one!

🎇🎆🔥

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