Independent Canadian book publishers working in Dominica, W.I. 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

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

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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

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.

West Highland Train – Glasgow to Mallaig, Scotland

Early morning photo from the train. Just out of Glasgow.

By any measure our trip to the Isle of Skye in Scotland was absolutely fantastic!
Although it was already late October, weather was summer-like. And of course people in Scotland – as always – were helpful and friendly. Not only did we take all the photographs for our client, but also did some extra sightseeing, ending up having lots of additional photos, as well as amazing memories.
While the whole trip was just over one week long, it was packed with memorable moments and activities. Therefore we decided to split our post into several separate parts, in order to share our memories with you in the best possible way.

Dark clouds add drama to green hills.

So here is the first part – the journey from Glasgow to Mallaig:
When we boarded the West Highland Train in Glasgow early in the morning, we didn’t expect such a spectacular journey ahead of us. We knew that West Highland Line was voted one of the best scenic train journeys in the world, but nothing prepared us for that fantastically picturesque delight.

views are getting better and better…

The view from the train starts to be interesting almost immediately after leaving the station. The train runs parallel to the River Clyde along its north bank. After that the landscape opens wide. The line continues to wind its way through glens, alongside lochs, across moors, climbing up the mountains. It goes through scarcely populated areas before reaching Rannoch Moor, a vast upland wilderness. Scenery changes as in a kaleidoscope. Stations’ names become more Gaelic sounding; we are now in the heart of the Highlands.

Constantly on alert – I had only couple of seconds from seeing this, to taking this photo.

The morning sky becomes light blue and sunny, all colours of the landscape are saturated after the rain. We are glued to the windows determined not to miss anything; one blink of an eye and the view will be lost forever. We enter “the Horse Shoe Curve”- instead of crossing the broad valley, the train makes a big, spectacular bend over the neighbouring hillsides. Next, for some people on the train comes the biggest attraction: the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the biggest bridge on the line, featured in the “Harry Potter” films.

Near Rannoch train station

For us, the highlight of this trip comes next, past Fort William: the incredibly picturesque Loch Eilt, studded with tiny islands with towering trees. After crossing several viaducts and tunnels, we can already catch a glimpse of the sea. Our journey ends in Mallaig, a fishing port and a gateway to the north-west islands.

the Glenfinnan Viaduct – recognize it from Harry Potter?

The whole 264 km journey takes over 5 hours, but we felt like watching an incredibly fascinating 2- hour movie. If not for the train, it would be otherwise impossible to see such a stunning variety of Scottish landscape in such a short time. West Highland Line was built over the period of almost 40 years starting from 1863.

Beautiful Loch Eilt with dozens of tiny islands

The latest extension – from Fort William to Mallaig – was opened in April 1901. Since then, the train gives a chance to experience one of the most memorable rail journeys in the world.

We plan to take a ferry from Mallaig to one of the biggest Scottish islands, the Isle of Skye. For us, the West Highland Train is only the beginning.

ruins of a  house on a moor

Thank you for reading, please SHARE with friends, and if you like it – click FOLLOW to get notified when next parts are posted.
Story – Margaret Gajek, author of multi-awarded books Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean and Tropical Homes of the Eastern Caribbean
Photography – Derek Galon (please respect copyright).

Until next time, cheers!
Derek

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