A return to The Shire in Second Life

The Shire; Inara Pey, September 2016, on Flickr The Shire – click any image for full size

The Shire. For anyone who has entered the realms of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, that is a name synonymous with Hobbits, the house at Bag End, and the place from which Bilbo and Frodo Baggins each in turn left behind all they had ever known to set out on quests very different in nature, but ultimately part of the same history. It is also a place beautifully brought to life in Second Life by Chocolate Aftermath, working with region holder Imabean Algorythm (Ima Peccable).

I first visited The Shire, Second Life, in March of 2015, and was utterly delighted with all I saw; a beautiful blending of places for Little and Big Folk, complete with a touch of Elven mystery. I confess to not having made a return trip in nigh-on a year, so seeing it featured in the Destination Guide highlights for September 16th put me in the mind to renew my acquaintance with the region, see what has changed and – most importantly of all – introduce Caitlyn to Chocolate’s interpretation of this corner of Tolkien’s world.

The Shire; Inara Pey, September 2016, on Flickr The Shire – click any image for full size

And I’m utterly delighted that while things have greatly changed since my last visit in (I think) August of 2015, all of the magic and delight of The Shire remain, offering a balanced mix of public spaces and private, for-rent residences. The latter comprise for the Little Folk, familiar double-fronted Hobbit Holes with large round front doors and little steps leading up their humped backs to “rooftop” seating areas; whilst for the Big Folk, more traditional slate-roofed cottages and farm houses are scattered across the region.

All of the hobbit holes and houses are placed within their own grounds and spaced across the region and both upon its hills and lowlands in such a way that tenants have a good feeling of privacy from one another, while the fences and walls surrounding their plots serve to steer casual visitors  along the public paths and tracks without huge risk of unwanted intrusion by the polite Second Life Explorer.

The Shire; Inara Pey, September 2016, on Flickr The Shire – click any image for full size

Visits to the Shire begin towards the south-east corner of the region where Bilbo Baggins’ (eleventy-first?) birthday is being celebrated. I didn’t notice any of Gandalf’s fireworks awaiting their time to be lit, but I’m sure they are there 🙂 . The Shire “proper” lies on the other side of a narrow sliver of water across by a set of stepping-stones which – in a nod to wider aspects of Tolkien’s world, is watched over by an Entish tree spirit.

Once over the water, the path divides, and where you go is really down to where your feet carry you. As noted the homes spread across the region are private, so please do note the rental status at the gates / paths leading to them and respect the privacy of the tenants. The paths and tracks wind their way gently around and over the hills of the region, presenting plenty of opportunities for exploration and to sit down (Hobbits love a good natter, you know).

The Shire; Inara Pey, September 2016, on Flickr The Shire – click any image for full size

There are other hints of un-Hobbity things to be found as you explore this little corner of the Shire as well. There’s a touch of dwarvishness to be found under hill, and little touch or two of an elven influence up on the hill (one of which has the region’s open-air art gallery which currently features Jewell Wirefly’s images). There’s also a hint that  trouble may have found its way to this part of The Shire – it’s not every day one comes across a watchtower with a rack of spears in the land of the Hobbits – has Saruman been up to mischief?

The Shire is, without a doubt, a joy to visit. Bird song fills the air and with all the hobbit holes, open windows and doors, it’s not hard to imagine the smell of baking and cooking being wafted gently on the breeze. Those interested in renting a hole or cottage can find information on cost and LI allowances on the rental boxes at the entrance to each plot. Those interested in photography will find plenty of opportunities, and those with a love of Tolkien will feel right at home!

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