Welcome to Somewhere – click any image for full size
Update: July 28th: Zoe Connolly produced a video of Welcome to Somewhere, which say says was inspired by this blog post. It’s a delight to watch, and I’m embedding it at the end of the post with thanks to her. I’ll hopefully be back to making my own videos at some point in the not too distant future!
It’s a catchy name for a place: Welcome to Somewhere, the Full region designed by DarkDesire (Stefan Salmson) and Petra Teatime (Petra Hienke) – and it is certainly appropriate. This is an enigmatic location; on the one hand strange and new, on the other, containing just enough familiarity about it to suggest is it somewhere you may have been to or seen before. Caught in an eternal twilight which adds to the general atmosphere when exploring (although I admittedly opted for daytime pictures in the hope of showing a slightly different face to the region), Welcome to Somewhere is a place of charm and mystery, where hints of dark secrets lay without ever their true nature being overtly revealed.
If you follow the given SLurl, your visit will start on the north side of the land, marked by houses, cottages, a house boat and a warehouse place of work. Everything is a little run-down, suggesting this is a place that’s seen better days – there’s even the sad hulk of a sunken trawler partially blocking access to the quayside for other vessels.
Find your way ashore, and a dirt track points west from the back of the wooden warehouse-come-store / place of work, directing you along the coastline before turning south and delivering you to what remains of a fun fair. Overgrown, the rides broken and decaying, the fair has the edge real edge to it: the clown’s fang-filled smile at the gate not entirely a promise of jollity within. A Ferris wheel, long broken and rusted, stands sentinel over two foot bridges. One faces east, towards some old stone ruins where sits a little tram-car converted for use as a tea shop, its innocence standing in contrast to the darker hints of the fun fair. Deeper within the ruins is forgotten outdoor stage, resuming the air of foreboding about this place.
The second, smaller foot bridge leads to two imposing houses facing one another across paved and ordered gardens, complete with an orangery housing a harpsichord, a little outside café alongside it. Sitting between low shoulders of rock, these distinguished houses and their gardens give a sense of money and order, their status perhaps once the dominant feature in this landscape.
Another track winds its way east from here, skirting the edge of the large lake occupying a far portion of the land before passing a slightly dilapidated farmhouse and over another foot bridge to where tall Scotts pines grow, the path gently undulating between them. At the end of this path sit more buildings, exuding an air of menace – something greatly increased by the puppet theatre parked at the water’s edge. There is something disturbing about this; it appears neither friendly nor welcoming – one could almost imagine the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang waiting to usher unsuspecting souls inside, before dropping the bars across the entrance and trapping them.
It is this air of menace – or at least the feeling this place has a darker side to it – which adds greatly to the overall feel to the region when exploring it under the low light of dusk. It sharply contrasts with the beautifully picturesque nature of the landscape (best appreciated in daylight). The latter presents calm waters, shaded walks, gentle hill climbs to follies and a little hilltop function room (perhaps once the scene of happy Sunday afternoon dances), but as one travels, so the delight the the landscape become tinged with that frisson of discomfort, the urge to look over your shoulder when walking the path to the odd little puppet theatre.
Just where is everyone? Some of the region feels as find it has been run-down a left to decay for a long time – notably the fun fair. Other parts feel as if they’ve recently fallen on hard times. But so too is there a feeling that the locals have only fled, leaving only the wildlife – and the dolls. These are to be found scattered around, indoors and out. do they mean anything? That’s for you to decide. And what of the strangeness of the little hamlet where explorations of the region begin? Why is it that it has a roadside auto shop where no road has seemingly ever run?
Whether you seek to answer these questions, and any other which might occur to you as you explore Welcome to Somewhere is entirely down to you. One thing is undeniable about this place, however. It is an enigmatic delight to visit, offering numerous opportunities for photography and lots of room for meandering discovery of all it has to offer.
- Welcome to Somewhere (Salmson Isle, rated Moderate)