Personal blog of Derek and Margaret, working 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.

Archive for the ‘architecture’ Category

The Deed Is Done

Our home after rebuilding. Acid stains visible on walls and floor.

Funny to remember we expected to have a slower life in Dominica, being tired with the speed and pressure of things in Canada. Here actually our life goes faster in many aspects! Well, all together it is more harmonious and peaceful – but so much things happen to us, we are badly short of time.

Anyway – the deed is done! Our house destroyed to the ground by hurricane is up, and we are in it already! About two years to the date – the process was slow, plagued by builder mistakes, and slowed further by various improvements to the structure.
Now we work overtime on decor, various fixes, and on landscape. Margaret is busy planting hundreds of plants she propagated in last years in anticipation of this moment. So, the place starts to look like our home, and we are quite happy with it.

Margaret applying acid stain

The concrete acid stain we used extensively on floors and walls added to unusual and warm look. It was great decision to go for it. We are totally relying on rain water, and it proves a reliable and comfortable solution, specially with the efficient solar water heater recently installed on our roof. The concrete roof itself is covered outside with special white sealer which also acts as sun heat barrier, and even on hottest days our home is cool inside.

Victoria Falls, Dominica

We are so focused on home work that we don’t feel like going anywhere, even for quick shopping. But we have to, as we have plenty of other work. Past months saw me working for a large nature film company (can’t talk about it until project is finished – so stay tuned to learn more about this later on!), filming series of short flicks for our friends at JustGoDominica.com and other such tasks. This work sent me to beautiful places such as Victoria and Middleham Falls, Wavine Cyrique, and I am soon to go other places.

Wavine Cyrique, an unique waterfall ending on a beach.

In the meantime we keep photographing and filming various real estate properties and hotels here, occasionally shooting on other Caribbean islands. Latest one a fine boutique resort in Grenada – was really fun to visit. Another trips (Barbados and Grenada) are on the plate.

Photo from my recent job, photographing Fort Young Hotel in Dominica, after extensive renovations.

We will try to keep you posted, although it is not always possible as finding a free moment is tricky these days. But we want to share with you more news and stories, so please stay tuned for more.
Until next time, cheers! And if you like this post, share it and subscribe!

Derek

PS
All photos by Derek Galon, please respect copyright.

Revisiting Papillote Gardens in Dominica

While life keeps us extremely busy with rebuilding our home after the hurricane Maria (we hope it will finish in about 2 months! Hurray!), we try to work on photography and video as much as we can. And there is lots of work to be done. Just recently our XL sized prints were placed on walls of S-Mart supermarket, adding a flavour of local nature to the store.

our prints on walls of S-Mart

 

Mounting my huge print inside Dominica International Airport

Soon after -in collaboration with #EliteEvents –  International Airport in Dominica had been decorated with even bigger size prints. We are working on a series of wall-decor nature prints available in several retail locations, and – same as these above projects – we do it in collaboration with the best printers in Dominica – Campbells.

Then, I had a creative photo-video session with a professional model and a friend – Nicole Morson. We worked together before. This time it was a horse-riding theme, courtesy of fantastic Brandy Manor Riding Center near Portsmouth.

I am now preparing for a short trip to Grenada, to do photography and video for promotion of a new luxury boutique resort – I should have more about it soon.

So, as you see – there is quite a b it of work we are tackling on top of our everyday lives.

Nicole Morson during our photo session

 

But during all these activities we also revisited the Papillote Gardens in Trafalgar – one of our most favourite Caribbean gardens. It is always  a pleasure to meet Anne, garden’s creator. She helped me filming several agouti feeding before sunset, and we were shown all recent changes and improvements.

During these visits we did what we always try to do – filmed and photographed, and Margaret had a short interview with Anne. The result is now available for you to see – a short video presenting Papillote Gardens. Have a look. We hope you will enjoy!

 

So, that is all for now, we will be in touch soon.

Don’t forget to like and share the post if you enjoyed it. All the best!
Derek and Margaret

Martinique

Beginning of this year has been extremely busy for us, filled with new, exciting, and often challenging projects. Among other activities we contributed articles and dozens of images to several publications including two last editions of MACO Magazine – the ever-popular Caribbean lifestyle magazine. Our write-ups are about unique and quirky homes on Dominica island where we now live. MACO also featured our story about rebirth of Montserrat after it’s last devastating volcano eruption. When our family came from England for a visit, we decided to take a short break from work, and travel with them to a neighbouring island of Martinique._DSC7245

We boarded catamaran ferry operated by L’Express des Iles which links a few nearby islands with Dominica. From the ferry you can really see how extraordinarily beautiful this mountainous island is, covered with lush greenery and surrounded by turquoise coral reefs.

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Last glimpse at Dominica – heading to Martinique

Our boat left calm Caribbean Sea and entered rough Atlantic waters. With strong winds it could be a rough ride. Fortunately, the day was calm and soon we were able to see silhouettes of approaching Martinique. It is much more populated than Dominica – over four hundred thousand people live there. From a boat you can clearly see quaint little villages dotting the coastline, and much bigger concentration of population around the Fort-de-France area. It is a metropolis comparing to Dominica with only seventy-two thousand inhabitants.

photo: Derek Galon

Bibliotheque Schoelcher by architect Pierre-Henri Picq

The first thing we noticed after leaving the ferry terminal in Fort-de-France was an elaborate, colourful building of Bibliotheque Schoelcher on the other side of grassy lawns of La Savanne park. Its architecture has a fairy tale quality, and perhaps could look more at home somewhere in Turkey or Italy – maybe because of eclectic, curious mixture of different designing influences including Byzantine, Art Nouveau and ethnic building traditions of French colonies. Library is named in honour of Victor Schoelcher, the French cabinet minister and influential abolitionist. In 1883 he donated books from his own collection to the people of Martinique and was inspiration for this development.

This intricate building was designed by Pierre- Henri Picq in 1884, built in Paris, displayed at the 1889 World Exposition and shipped in pieces to Fort-de-France. Picq is also an architect of other city landmarks like Cathedral St-Louis, Grand Marche – covered produce market, and corner building of Magasin du Printemps. His another eye-catching building, the Museo Artequin in Santiago, Chile, perhaps resembles Bibliotheque Schoelcher the most. Interestingly, in most English speaking travel guides (including Lonely Planet) his last name is spelled Pick, which explains why I couldn’t find any information about him on-line on English sites.

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Patisserie Friandises des Iles – our most favourite, perhaps the best small chain in Martinique, with shops in Fort de France, Schoelcher, and case Pilote.

The old city of Fort-de-France is small but full of interesting buildings and… patisseries. Our sightseeing was seriously distracted by our weakness for sweets – but how can you resist delicious French eclairs with fluffy, delicate and fragrant cream?

We took a drive up the scenic coastal road north, which goes through old fishing villages. Our favourite was Case Pilote with old stone church and a charming town square with town hall, a water fountain in the middle and yes, a delicious patisserie.

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Fountain in Case-Pilote

Atmospheric town of St Pierre has a fascinating and gloomy history. On May 8th , 1902 the whole city was totally destroyed by pyroclastic flow from erupting volcano of Mont Pelee in 10 short minutes. The speed of black clouds carrying volcanic gases and burning ash was over 670km per hour and temperature as high as 1,075 degrees C. Wikipedia brings a very detailed description of this tragic eruption. Nearly 30 thousand people lost their lives. One of the lucky escapists was a prisoner named Cyparis, locked in a jail cell.

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Mont Pelee

Not much have been left from the original city. The most impressive ruins are of an old 18th- century theatre, which once seated 800. It was built in 1786, reconstructed in 1831, resembling a theatre in Bordeaux. Well preserved a double set of stairways gives a sense of grandeur and an enormous scale of the building.

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Double set of stairs to amphiteatre

Depth of the stage allowed for big productions, ranging from classical to vaudeville as well as great operas. Setting for the theatre is as spectacular as the building itself – located on a hill with spectacular views of the sea and Mont Pelee.

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Mt Pelee seen through old gate of theatre

In times of its glory it must have been an awe inspiring sight. Curiously, the theatre was closed down shortly before the eruption of Mont Pelee as a result of huge loans for renovations in 1900, that couldn’t be paid off.

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Old, rusted trasnformer in theater ruins.

 

We wandered through the narrow streets of this fascinating town ending up (of course!) in another delicious patisserie.

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Remainings of the theater

Back from this short trip, refreshed and excited, we got back to our work with new energy – but this is yet another story…

Until next Time! Cheers!
Derek and Margaret

If you like this story, please Share and Like it.
Story by Margaret Gajek
Photographs by Derek Galon – please respect copyright.
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Front of a typical old house in St Pierre

The New Beginnings

Last pieces of furniture leave our Canadian home.

Last pieces of furniture leave our Canadian home.

We already did it once before. We packed our things, and moved out of our old country – to Canada. It was some 25 years ago, we arrived with two suitcases to a totally new life saying good bye to our careers in Poland – me – an active jazz musician, jazz group manager and photographer, Margaret – a young art historian cataloging old churches all over the country.

We had to reinvent ourselves in Canada many times to keep on the surface. We landed in British Columbia and had the last few years pretty stable. And now, it happens again! Except that this time we are older, and are packing a container full of stuff we may need – computers, wide format printers, all our office and photo/studio gear, plus many other little things which may not be easily available there. Where? In Dominica, Eastern Caribbean region. Yes, we decided to move to Dominica and many people call us crazy. Time will tell if they were right.

shores of Dominica

shores of Dominica

We went some 3 months ago to Dominica to do some more photography work for a hotel and an eco-resort. And we thought – why do we have to fly so far every time we have to do a job there? In fact, we have more work in the Caribbean than in BC and Canada. So, why not to try to live there at least for a while, and see how it goes? We love the place, which made our decision even easier.

Volcanic hills of Dominica

Volcanic hills of Dominica

We sold our house in Victoria, packed up our container, and now we prepare for the Big Move, which will happen in October. We registered there our company Ozone Zone, so we can continue our work under the same name, and we are excited to start a new life. New beginnings once again! We will keep you posted on this blog with progress of things – good or not so good. So, make sure to follow this blog to get all updates. We were quite silent for last months as it was incredibly busy with selling house, moving out, deciding about details, closing business in Canada, preparing for the move, etc. I also had my last art photo session with old friends here. Now all is clear to us, and we have green light to go. Stay tuned!      We will be in touch!
Derek and Margaret

Emerald waterfalls in Dominica.

Emerald waterfalls in Dominica.

Revisiting Abkhazi Gardens and Tea House, Victoria (aerial video)

Abkhazi Gardens and Tea House, Victoria, BC, Canada

Abkhazi Gardens and Tea House, Victoria, BC, Canada

When we visited this fantastic garden two years ago, it was absolutely beautiful. The garden, freshly saved from destruction and full of history, thrived under capable hands of  Jeff de Jong and his team.
You can see our post from that time here

abkhazi2Just recently we heard of staff changes, and were curious how did it affect this beautiful place.   Still under management of The Land Conservancy BC, which – along with many donors – saved the garden from destruction, it recently saw Jeff moving away to other tasks.  We were thrilled to see that this change did not affect the garden in any bad way. The garden matured beautifully, and now in spring colours, it is just a perfectly maintained, magical place. The manager of the Tea House, Mr Page, oversees the day to day operations, which seems to work perfectly. A man of a considerate charm and skill, he was very helpful and informative. The Tea House itself makes for a perfect ending of your garden visit.

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Our previous post tells the love and life story behind this garden, and shows quite a few photographs. Therefore for this post, we have a special treat for you. Instead of writing more, we present here an aerial video! Titled “Flying Over Abkhazi Gardens and Tea House” it tells its story with a 5 minute video clip created using  Phantom 2 flying camera quad-copter.  These few photos presented here are also aerial shots using the same system.

We hope you enjoy these, and when in Victoria, you would consider visiting this splendid place!
Thank you for stopping by, and as always – if you like it, please click Share or Like buttons. And of course Follow us, to be first to see our next post.
Cheers!
Derek

Photos and video are copyright Derek Galon, Ozone Zone Books. Please respect our copyright.

 

Notes From Linz

_DAG8388We came to Linz in Austria for the judging session of the famous Al- Thani Photo Awards,  superbly organized by Chris Hinterobermaier and his efficient staff. They also run Trierenberg Super Circuit – one of the largest and most prestigious international salons of photography. This hard-working team was very hospitable, and it was tremendous fun to be around them. You can separately see Derek’s series of posts about the judging experience at Al-Thani. This post is about our impressions from visiting this interesting city.

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Linz is not only industrial city but also a vibrant cultural centre hosting numerous festivals (including electronic art) and art exhibits. The various artistic events are held in striking glass and steel (and glowing at night!) Lentos Museum of Art, in Brucknerhouse on the banks of Danube river, or in Musiktheater, the modern opera house.

In the Old City

In the Old City

When we arrived, the city was already in Christmas mood, Altstadt – the old city decorated with lights, street vendors were selling hot cider, perfect for cold winter evenings. If you are not into hot cider, you could grab a delicious cappuccino, or some hot food – typically different kinds of wurst (sausage).

Stained glass window in one of numerous churches of Old City

Stained glass window in one of numerous churches of Old City

Walking in old town, we were lucky to notice a small announcement on Ursulinenkirche door about a late evening music concert held there. We decided to go, and for us, it was a truly memorable experience. Not only performance was great (what a superb choir they have!)  but also the ambiance: main church’s altar lit by candles with their lights reflected on gold ornaments and baroque putti.

_DAG8389Being in Linz it’s difficult not to notice an excellent network of long, silently gliding trams, a part of great public transport service. They run like clockworks, and add to the image of efficient, prosperous and well kept city.

Linz is known as the birthplace of one of the oldest pastry recipes ever recorded: the famous Linzer torte. As I was eager to compare my homemade version to the original, I started to visit various pastry shops and bakeries.  My tasting experience resulted in gaining a few extra pounds, as I found  local pastry shops totally irresistible. With my tests still inconclusive, I feel I need to return to Linz soon, and continue trying some more of their exquisite pastries…

Thank you for stopping by, have a great Holiday Season!
Margaret Gajek

If you like this post, please SHARE, and Follow us. Cheers!
_DAG8387All photos copyright Derek Galon.

Getting Lost in Venice

Venice in November was for us as fascinating and magical as in summer months. More quiet, sometimes covered with fog, it presented a different face than during busy tourist season. We were fortunate that after finishing photographic work for a client, we still had time to explore this amazing city. Here are a few of “our discoveries” about Venice we would like to share.

View from the famous Rialto bridge

View from the famous Rialto bridge

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Although Venice is small enough to get across within a couple of hours, it is also one of the easiest cities to get lost. We were drawn into the maze of narrow streets and canals, some marked as calle, fondamenta or ruga or simply not marked at all. Getting lost in the tight lattice of  alleys in Cannareggio and Castello was a highlight of our Venice experience. The 118 islands that make up the city are small; space is very precious. Surprisingly, we encountered many private, secret gardens hidden behind ancient walls, tiny courtyards filled with exquisite plants, roof terraces shaded by pergolas and balconies full of greenery. Narrow windowsills made of stone displayed clusters of white and red cyclamens on almost every building we passed by.

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Acqua alta” – high water – occurs in Venice more often that we thought. It happened twice during the week of our stay. This temporary flooding is caused by exceptionally high tides, and it usually lasts for 3-4 hours. At that time, the most fashionable shoes are rubber boots, and you really need these to get across Piazza San Marco. City installs a network of elevated gangways for pedestrians when this tidal phenomenon happens. _DAG7512

San Marco Basilica

San Marco Basilica

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On Torcello

It is hard to believe that the island of Torcello was once a thriving centre of the whole lagoon even before Venice was built. Today, almost nothing remains of its former splendour. The major attraction is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta founded in 639 with Byzantine mosaics, the oldest in Venetian lagoon. Torcello reached its peak in the 14th century, and was finally abandoned  as a result of devastating malaria. This quiet and peaceful island offers a perfect refuge from busy streets of Venice.

A traditional wine shop - bring your own bottle, and get a fine wine at a super-low price!

A traditional wine shop – bring your own bottle, and get a fine wine at a super-low price!

We hope you enjoy this short story by Margaret Gajek and photos by Derek Galon.
If you do, please share and follow our blog for more. Until next time! Ciao!
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typical Venice gift store window

typical Venice gift store window

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