A winter’s tale in Second Life

Un Conte d'Hiver
Un Conte d’Hiver

This is the time of year when Second Life – as I’ve mentioned before – is awash with winter landscape, and many of us are out and about photographing and filming them (you can expect a few more in these pages when I’ve caught up with myself 🙂 ). But what about images of real life winter scenes?

Nils Urqhart is currently exhibiting a series of his physical world photographs at the Serena Imagine Arts Centre under the title Un Conte d’Hiver (“A Winter’s Tale”) present some 29 (including the one in forming the entrance to the exhibit images of snow scenes captured in the Bugey region in eastern France, where it forms a part of the department of Ain. If, like me, you’re a Tour de France fan, you’ll recognise it as the home of the Col du Grand Colombier, one of the most punishing climbs of the tour.

Un Conte d'Hiver
Un Conte d’Hiver

The Col doesn’t feature in these images, however. Instead, what we are treated to are marvellous winter landscapes. Snow lies heavy and deep on the ground; it gives a frosted finish to trees and lies centimetres deep on rooftops and piled atop fence posts. Skies are overcast such that the horizon softens into them, the snow encouraging a gentle merger where in summer, green hills might will stand out sharply against blue skies.

Across this landscape, Nils has pictured rustic houses and barns and a beautiful church, all of which seem to huddling down against the snow and the cold, holding their heat and warmth tight within. Elsewhere, young people walk hand-in hand, stand on skis or throw snowballs, their bright coats contrasting loudly with the white snow surrounding them.

Un Conte d'Hiver
Un Conte d’Hiver

To call these images picturesque would be perhaps demeaning of them; they are quite stunning in their composition, so much so that one feels it is possible to step within them and scoop up the snow or leave fresh tracks across its pristine blanket. But there is something else here as well. Such is the refinement in these pictures, it feels they are further blurring the line between the physical and digital, as if some of them are of locations which can be found not only in Bugey, but also in Second Life.  My only disappointment is that the space in which they are displayed really doesn’t do them the justice they deserve.

However, if you are looking for images of winter and snow of a different nature to those reflecting regions of Second Life, I recommend this exhibit. Be sure to find your way to the centre of the exhibition and Nils’ Christmas greeting.

Un Conte d'Hiver
Un Conte d’Hiver

SLurl Details

Namaste: serenity and contemplation in Second Life

Namaste, Namaste; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr Namaste, Namaste – click any image for full size

Far back in the mists of time (by Second life standards!) I visited and blogged Sethos Lionheart’s beautiful quarter region of oriental design, The Snow Lion, which offered harmony and serenity in a tiered garden setting. Such was my appreciation of the build, I missed it when it vanished from Second life.

So it was with the delight of receiving a Christmas gift that I accepted an invitation from Sethos to visit his most recent creation in Second Life, which forms a home for his growing furnishing design business – and more importantly – an interconnected set of locations open to the public with a special purpose.

Namaste, Namaste; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr Namaste, Namaste

“I decided to try a region,” Sethos told me, “not for the business – that exists there purely to help fund the region – but because I wanted to dedicated large parcels to the meaningful aspects of my life (both physical and SL), with the hope that others will find solace and comfort in it and come away feeling spiritually refreshed.”

Currently caught in the depths of winter, the region has four potential starting points for people’s visits. There is Namaste (after which the region is named), which for me offered a direct link back to the Snow Lion, and thus a natural place to start my visit. Within it sits a small Chinese style house, perfect for meditation, facing a low pagoda occupying a curl of land which wraps itself around a facing turn of water.

Namaste, Namaste; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr Namaste, Namaste

Observe these from above, and you’ll see they form a yin-yang, echoing one of the centrepieces of The Snow Lion. Here, as with that design, the use of water and land to form the symbol perfectly encompasses the philosophical concept of opposites being complementary.  The best place, perhaps to appreciate this yin-yang, is by climbing the stone steps up to another pagoda, occupying a rocky promontory and offering further opportunities for reflection and meditation. Whilst there, do note how the pagoda and fountain are positioned to complete the yin and yang symbols.

“I’ve been meditating every day for the past year and I’ve never felt more integrated with life or more at peace with myself,” Sethos told me. “My hope is that this parcel offers as a quiet place for meditative contemplation and conversation while presenting a visual metaphor for the long process of self-discovery.” To help visitors relax and free their thoughts, Tai Chi balls and yoga mats are offered for visitors to use.

Namaste, Namaste; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr Gaia’s Grove, Namaste

“I’ve spent most of my life as a practising pagan,”  Sethos said in introducing Gaia’s Grove, which can be reached from Namaste via the footpath winding through the trees – take the left turn where it branches – or you can follow the snow northwards along the water’s edge. “So Gaia’s Grove is meant to offer a place where one can commune with nature through long walks in the woods, a small temple, and even a version of Stonehenge.  I’ve also included an outdoor ballroom for good times with friends and family.”

The temple sits shaded under trees, reached via a second left turn in the path, its back against the wall separating it from the outdoor ballroom area. It also presents a place of quiet contemplation, with a balcony overlooking the water presenting a place for soft conversation. A short distance away, Stonehenge is offered as it might have looked to those who built it, and sits as a peaceful location amidst the snow.  Open to the air, the ballroom allows plenty of room for dancing under the sun or stars, in a romantic setting.

Namaste, Namaste; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr The dance area, near The Old Stone Church, Namaste

The eastern half of the region is home to Sethos’ store, OM Namo, and The Old Stone Church. “I spent some time as Friar Sethos in Tintagel,” Sethos said of the latter. “Teaching basic Latin to the village children and giving mass each Sunday was some of the best moments in my Second Life. I finally understood in SL what I’d not seen in real life. That the church often is the heart-centre of a community.  So I offer this build as a reflection of that, and a place of sanctuary.  If you do go, visit the graveyard to the right of the church.  I find it particularly serene.”

Connecting the church and store is the second of the regions two large dance venues (a smaller third dance area is located to the side of the church), and a frozen pond awaiting skaters.

Caught within the snows of winter, with trees frosted and white and rolling snow-dusted hills surrounding it, Namaste made for a perfect seasonal visit this Christmas Eve. My thanks to Sethos for extending the invitation to drop in – Caitlyn and I will be back for certain!

SLurl Details

Namaste is rated Moderate.

2016: a look back at Second Life and more – part 1

A look back through this blog's 2016 coverage
A look back through this blog’s 2016 coverage

The end of the year is once more approaching, which is often a time of reflection as we look back over the old before pausing to await the arrival of the new. It’s become something of a tradition in these pages for me to look back over the the articles and coverage of the year’s events I’ve managed to write-up, and offer a chance to revisit the ups and downs and the good and the bad the last twelve months have brought us.

To keep things digestible, I’ve broken this year’s review into two parts. This one covers January through June, and July to December can be found here.


Telrunya - Forest of Dreams; Inara Pey, January 2016, on Flickr Telrunya – Forest of Dreams – one of my first region visits for the 2016 Exploring Second Life series

The year started with a photo contest from Kultivate Magazine and a celebration of the 100th episode of the Drax Files Radio Hour (if you include the re-runs!), which included a chat with Oz and Troy Linden about the (then) still in development Project Bento. When Things Went Wrong with the grid rather badly over a weekend, April Linden gave an excellent a blog post explaining what had happened and why, which as I noted, marked a welcome continuance of communications on matters like this from the Lab.

Second Life’s first press appearance for the year came via an article on published UCI News, the on-line newsletter of the University of California, Irvine, which explored the work of Tom Boellstorff, a professor of anthropology at the university. The article particular examined Tom’s work in SL around Parkinson’s Disease.

In mid-January, VWBPE 2016 put out a call for papers, while I recalled a Starry Night in Second Life. Then, in the latter half of the month, Lab Chat returned with Ebbe Altberg taking questions on the Lab, Second Life and Sansar, and I provided the transcript and audio.

January also saw Caledonia Skytower joined me as a Guest Writer, with the first of her hugely popular series, If you just build it, they might not come, on promoting events in Second Life. The first month of the year also saw the Linden Department of Public Works Moles honoured in Bay City.


I offered some thoughts on Wearable’s coverage of Sansar, and the platform also formed a focus of the 2nd Lab Chat event (see the link above).

Other Worlds and AR/VR/MR

Stephen Wolfram became the latest high-profile person to join High Fidelity’s advisory board, while the Oculus Rift VR headset became available for pre-order, with a price which shocked a lot of people, prompting me to ask, At what price VR? Then HTC announced upcoming Vive pre-ordering whilst responding to talk of a split within the company.


I was delighted to be invited to exhibit at the Art on Roofs Gallery, Second Life (see Through a Blogger’s Eyes in the January Art Reviews, below. I also made the acquaintance of artist Silas Merlin, courtesy of Kayly Iali (see The pastel world of Silas Merlin in Second Life, below), which I’m happy to say grew into a friendship. Timekiller was the fist major event of 2016 I managed to get along to, and emboldened by recent exhibitions I opened a small studio gallery.

January Travels January Art Reviews
A journey through Nightfall Images and sculptures at The Living Room
Let it Snow! Through a Blogger’s Eyes in Second Life
Discovering The Keys in Second Life Windlight Fellows January-February 2016
A dreamer’s forest in Second Life The pastel world of Silas Merlin in Second Life
A medieval meander in Second Life Bananas, trumpets, trailblazers and cacti
Stepping through the Gates of Memories in Second Life Cica’s Beginners in Second Life
Return to an enchanted Cauldron in Second Life Dutch Masters at Holly Kai Garden
High Water in Second Life Seanchai Library’s Crazy Eights in Second Life


The cost of experience ownership in Sansar still has yet to be determined, and will be influenced by other factors - and may be pitched on an "experimental" based when initially announced
New images of Sansar made their debut in February 2016

The 2016 events season started to ramp up in February. The 2016 RFL of SL team registrations opened, and the Home and Garden Expo took place later in the month, followed by Paint it Purple at the end of February. One Billion Rising put out a call for volunteers ahead of the February 14th event; BURN2 Burnal Equinox was announced; the Lab, with Isle of Love supported Team Fox and Parkinson’s research with their Valentines event; the ALS Awareness week took place; the VWBPE 2016 schedule was published.

Elsewhere in Second Life, Calas Galadhon re-opened (see the link below), and both Catznip and Achemy viewers updated, the former after a long break. the platform suffered more operational woes, with April Linden once again providing an explanation.  Draxtor Despres gave insight into Project Bento via a World Makers special, and I was able to provide some additional material. Thing got a little tense mid-month with a sudden slew of bannings, many of which were subsequently reversed, although one creator made an urgent plea and the whole situation left me wondering if someone had been a little too eager with the ban hammer.

Cale continued her series on events promotion in Second Life, with parts two and three, and an address by the Dalai Lama to the Mayo Clinic was relayed into Second Life.


Further images of Sansar were released, prompting further debate, while comments at the January Lab chat left me pondering on maps and metaphors, to the consternation of some!

Other Worlds

High Fidelity played with 200 avatars in a single location, looked at a commerce project and got into scanning faces. Amazon launched Lumberyard for games developers.


Caitlyn and I opened Caitinara Bar at Holly Kai Park to help encourage traffic and visitors to the park’s facilities. Anthony Westburn became our headline DJ on Wednesdays, followed by Joy Canadeo on Fridays and (through until late summer) Kess Crystal on Sundays. I also launched into the first phase of 2016’s “lets rebuild the island…again.”

February Travels February Art Reviews
Calas Galadhon re-opens Thea and CioTToLiNa at The Living Room
Experience the Adirondacks in Second Life Terrygold’s Visions in Second Life
Visiting The Village in Second Life Exploring the City in Second Life
Sorrow’s Snow in Second Life Getting some Funky Junk  in Second Life
The Yorkshire Moors in Second Life Within the Shadows of a Dream  in Second Life
Casablanca: a classic movie in Second Life Holly Kai Art at the Park February / March
Free-form role-play in Second Life Wounded Angels in Second Life
 Spellbound by Imesha in Second Life TerpsiCorps ARTWerks; Performance Art in Second Life

Continue reading “2016: a look back at Second Life and more – part 1”