Once more to Whimberly

Whimberly; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrWhimberly – click on any image for full size

Whimberly marked one of the first places we visited in Second Life at the start of 2017, when I remarked that the great beauty of the region lay within its simple elegance. In August, a return visit was made, after region holder Staubi (Engelsstaub) had given Whimberly a make-over, presenting a new look along the same elegant simplicity of presentation. So, when friend Miro Collas tipped me that a further make-over had been made to the region, it seemed a third visit would make a fitting end-of-year report on the region, balancing may January write-up.

This latest iteration of the region offers something of an echo of both the designs from mid-year and the start of 2017. As with August 2017, the landing point sits towards the north-east of the island, up on a rocky shoulder of a hill. Once again, this is home to a small summer-house – but in difference to August’s design, this one has been converted into a 50’s style diner inside, complete with jukebox, vinyl covered bench sitting and plenty of chrome. Also echoing the August design, a stone fountain sits outside of the diner, a parasolled seating area to one side, looking southwards across the water to a small island where a windmill stands, sails gently turning.

Whimberly; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrWhimberly

A dirt track runs down the hill to the lower reaches of the island, which have something of a feel for the January design of the region. A wide-open, grassy scene dominates the central landscape beneath the cloud-laden sky, the track splitting before the tide of grass, one arm leading to another summer-house, this one sitting within ornate walls, but offering a strong reminder of a similar place found within the January 2017 build, complete with the deck looking out over northern waters.

To the south, the track curve past a second wooden deck, where little motor boats can be rezzed and used to reach the windmill island, before following the water’s edge westwards before forking again, offering route to a choice of local houses.

Whimberly; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrWhimberly

The first of these has a distinctly Mediterranean look to it. With the old pick-up truck parked outside the front, the well and the cart wheels stacked against a wall, it might easily be taken for a farm-house. A look inside and a walk to the back of the house, with its terraced pool, reveal it to be anything but. An old stone jetty, broken and partially flooded – one of two to be found alongside the shoreline – sits close by, a place where an artist has been practising their skill with brush and paint.

The second house is much larger, and occupies the south-west spur of the island. Sitting among what might be oak trees and watched by a weeping willow, this has the feel of a family home – three pairs of Wellington boot in the hall, a meal for three set on a table, and so on. A car sits outside the garage, guarding the front door.

Whimberly; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrWhimberly

The little motor boats available to puttering around on the water are, I have to say, quite nippy; also, getting out of them takes a little care as well – any double-click teleporting will carry you back to the landing point. However, the windmill offers a haven for Greedy, Greedy and On a Roll fans, while a picnic blanket is spread under the wind-bent back of an old tree close to the windmill’s doors.

Whimberly always has been a region of serene, natural beauty, and this iteration is no exception; the melding of ideas from earlier designs is sublime, and the entire look and feel of the region so perfectly executed with a wonderfully light touch. It’s the perfect setting for an end-of-year visit, and a reminder that while we are in the midst of winter in the northern hemisphere, spring is really not that far away. In other words, an ideal place to visit and escape the winter blues.

Whimberly; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrWhimberly

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Gabrielle Riel to semi-retire from SL, St. John estate to close

St. John Parish

Long term Second Life resident Gabrielle Riel, founder and General Director of Radio Riel and owner of the St. John estate of seven regions, has announced she is to semi-retire from Second Life.

As a broadcaster and DJ, Gabrielle is well-known to many in Second Life, and her Radio Riel station is one of the most popular in Second Life, and one of the longest running, having celebrated its 10th anniversary of broadcasting in June 2017. Offering music covering a wide range of genres, Radio Riel is popular in the historic, fantasy and steampunk communities and well-known for their support of Relay for Life of Second Life and Fantasy Faire.

In 2013, Gabrielle founded the St. John residential estate of seven regions, which has proven popular with those renting there, building up a strong sense of community. Unfortunately, it is the part of her Second Life that is most directly affected by her decision.

Gabrielle Riel

“I want to make it clear I am not TOTALLY leaving SL!” Gabrielle told me. “Radio Riel will continue and I will still be coming in-world to play my gigs; I have four or five a month.

“I’ve always said ‘real life first, always’. It’s been my constant advice to everyone; now it’s time for me to take that advice.  I’ve been in Second Life for over eleven years now, and over ten of them have been on a professional basis: playing my gigs, managing the estate. It’s time for me to semi-retire, and that means I’ve decided to close St John.”

In order to try to minimise disruption for residents on the estate, Gabrielle intends to handle the closure in stages in order to give people time to arrange moving out without too much panic. To achieve this, she has set out a schedule of closures, and has asked that St John residents vacate their parcels as their tier expires, or no later than 12:00 noon, SLT on the following dates:

  • Friday, January 5th, 2018: Bayou St. John.
  • Sunday, January 14th, 2018: St. John Woods.
  • Tuesday, January 16th, 2018: Lake St. John.
  • Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018: St. John Parish, St John Maurepas, St John Uptown.
  • Tuesday, January 30th, 2018: St. John Islands.

She also notes that for those who have paid tier beyond these dates, refunds of any outstanding balance will be arranged and made, and she’ll contact those due a refund directly.

Given St John has always been a personal commitment from Gabrielle – a place of pure passion and love, as she puts it, from herself to those who have made the estate their home; she’s therefore – and understandably – unwilling to sell the estate on to someone else to manage, because and with the best will in the world, changes will inevitably come about.

That said, some of the regions will be offered for sale via the For Sale By Owner group in Second Life. However, anyone from the St John estate interested in purchasing one or more of the regions in order to continue part of the community, is invited to contact Gabrielle directly concerning possible sale, and she indicates she’d be willing help with landscaping, etc. The main caveats she has with any sale are that the regions will be sold clean – none of the current builds or landscaping will be included, and the buyer will also need to cover the cost ownership transfer and rename the regions they purchase.

St. John Bayou

“I agonised over this decision through many sleepless nights, but there are things happening in my real life that make this necessary for me,” Gabrielle explains, in discussing the decision. “I am closing the full estate because real life demands my full focus now; I’m not going to manage any sims, even a few … The reality is that I have barely logged-in to Second Life since July, and I’ve had to come to accept that is just the way things are … I have detested being an absentee landowner; I’ve hated not being able to update builds or landscaping or handle land administration.”

“I’ve tried to address everything about this decision within the audio,” she told me. “This really is a personal decision that I hope everyone will understand. But I do appreciate some of the residents of St John may have further questions. If they do, they can contact me via e-mail [gabrielle.riel-at-gmail.com].”

You can listen to Gabrielle’s comments in full below.

With thanks to John Brianna for the pointer.