Checkmate is the homestead region designed by Amae Moriarty which is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most breathtaking places in Second Life I’ve yet visited. I first came across it as a result of seeing Goizane Latzo’s photos on Bitacora Vajera about a week ago, and they promoted me to hop over and have a look – only to bump into Ziki Questi, who had the same idea!
The region description sums the place up perfectly, “a rambling vineyard enveloped by a hazy sky. Wander through the grapes as they soak up the sun, producing the best vintage of pixel wine on the grid” – or to put it another way, a beautifully crafted island that offers visitors a lot to see and enjoy, with rich scenery and plenty of opportunities for photographs, and for cuddles and chats.
The arrival point sits above the vineyards atop a plateau to the south, on one of a number of rocky uprisings – which, in difference to the rest of the region, is partially awash in a very local shower of rain, making a pond of the landing point. Fortunately, it’s only a short walk to get out of the rain, although which direction you take is up to you; I’d suggest heading a little northwards, and up to the edge of the cliff and a commanding view over the vineyards in the valley below.
For those who wish to climb a little higher, a set of stone steps leads the way to an old Edwardian folly and a view out to sea past the lighthouse. however, to get down to the vineyards, one must follow the switchback path down the side of the cliffs to the valley below.
Here sit tidy rows of vines, heavy with lush red grapes ready for picking. Going on the scale of the operation, this looks to be a family operated business, specialising in reds. They clearly enjoy visitors – alongside the vines sits a square pergola where guests can sample the wine with cheese and meat slices while playing a memory game; further tastings can be had in the winery itself. A rounded pergola sitting amidst the vines suggests the folk here enjoy a good end-of-day dance and music, while in a small bay, protected by a beachy headland sits a dock and a Loonetta 31, ready for those days off and trips out into the opens waters.
Footpaths pass around the island, providing an easy means to explore, encompassing as they do the local house with its own beach. In fact, beaches are aplenty here, each of them nicely situated to offer those using them a degree of privacy one from another as they sit and chat. My favourite sits at the end of a path turning between the tall rocky cliffs, where an old garden atelier sits on the rocky edge of a beach, and which has been converted for comfortable uses and pastimes, such as painting.
Throughout the region there are plenty of places to simply sit and relax, be it in a seafront cuddle space such as the atelier or the little cabin nestled under the cliffs, or sitting from a bough-hanging bench swing for two. For those who like to hike, the plateau to the north-east offers a hot tub to make the wake even more worthwhile, the cosy fireplace in the old converted greenhouse nearby presenting a place for warm, after-tub chats in old, comforting armchairs, or the opportunity to catch-up on some reading.
Such is the delight and design of Checkmate, it seems that where ever you go whenever you visit, there is a new charm waiting to surprise you. For the romantics, for the explorers, for the photographers, the is a place that offers so much; so don’t be surprised if you find yourself tarrying a lot longer than you’d anticipated when paying a visit.
And the wine? Most assuredly the best pixel vintage available on the grid!
- The Vineyard at Checkmate (Rated: Moderate)