A winter’s return for the Isle of May in Second Life

Isle of May; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrIsle of May – click any image for full size

Serene Footman and Jade Koltai specialise in designing regions based on real locations around the world. Each of them has always been popular among visitors and bloggers, perhaps none more so than Isle of May, which opened its doors in May 2018 for a month before closing once more.

As someone who certainly appreciated the original version of Isle of May, I was delighted to learn – by way of the ever-vigilant Shakespeare – that Isle of May re-opened on November 23rd, 2018, albeit it in a new location.

When we closed the Isle of May in June we promised ourselves that we would try designing a winter version later on in the year to see how it turned out. Having worked on the sim for a couple of weeks, we rather like it.

– Serene Footman, discussing the return of Isle of May

Isle of May; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrIsle of May

The actual Isle of May is located on the north side of the outer Firth of Forth. It’s a small island – less than 2 kilometres long and under half a kilometre wide – sitting 8 km off the Scottish coast. It forms a rugged finger-like uplift of basalt, home to over 285 bird species, including puffins, kittiwake, guillemots, razorbills, shags and fulmars. It is managed by Scottish Natural Heritage as a National Nature Reserve, and from October through Easter, is a home for seal pups.

The name of the island is subject to some dispute, but it is thought to be either of Old Norse origin, meaning “island of seagulls”, or from the Gaelic Magh meaning a “plain”. It is uninhabited outside of its wildlife, but open to day trippers between March / April through until October, and makes for and intriguing place to re-create.

What we were hoping to create is something wild and untamed: less desolate and abandoned than Khodovarikha, or even Furillen, but still a place where you’d feel the wind and snow hurting your face, and the cold gnawing away at your insides. We imagined a roaring sea, with north-easterly gales blasting onto isolated beaches.

– Serene Footman, discussing the return of Isle of May

Isle of May; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrIsle of May

Jade and Serene have certainly succeeded in creating a winter’s scene, and one that is not uncommon to the rugged Scottish coastline. Those familiar with the original Isle of May from earlier in 2018 will also recognise this design, which retains the core look and layout of the original – hardly surprising, given it is based on a real location. However, there are some subtle changes as well they go beyond the weather.

For example, this design appears to offer a broader path down to the beach from the landing point, while the greenhouse that once sat on those shingles has been moved a north-side beach, reached by a similar twisting path down from the island’s plateau. This northern beach runs around the north-west coast, to the east offering a walk between the greenhouse and an A-frame cabin, while to west it offers a way to a lonely stone cottage.

Isle of May; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrIsle of May

Such abodes are in keeping with the look and feel of many of the Scottish isles, and while Isle of May may not have permanent human residents, it has a long history of occupation that encompasses both the Vikings and the site of one of the earliest Christian churches in Scotland. So the cottage isn’t that out-of-place, while the religious history is reflected this time not only by ancient ruins, but also the presence of a small chapel on the north-east headland. Another path switchbacks down from this headland, providing access to one of my favourite Second Life house designs: the Skye Luxury Forest Cabin, by Alex Bader. Facing this across the southern bay is the peninsula mindful of the real Isle of May’s Rona headland.

This build also expands on the rich diversity of Isle of May’s wildlife. As well as the birds, the region includes otters, goats and wild rabbits, together with orca and dolphin out in the waters. The latter might be hard to see through the snow, but all are fully in keeping with the real island’s creatures. A couple of liberties have been taken, however, as Serene notes:

We introduced a small wolf pack. Surely there are no wolves in Scotland? Correct – not since the eighteenth century, it would seem – but we placed this group on the sim as a hat tip to a landowner called Paul Lister, who wants to reintroduce wolves – safely behind fences, I hasten to add – to the Scottish highlands. You’ll also see an Arctic fox flitting in and out of its den. Why? Because this beautiful animal once thrived in Scotland.

– Serene Footman, discussing the return of Isle of May

Isle of May; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrIsle of May

As always with Serene and Jade’s design, the region is rounded-out by a superb sound scape, one that should not be missed during a visit, as great care has been taken to incorporate he sounds of the actual wildlife found on the island (as well as mixing in the plaintive cries of both orca and wolves).

Rounded-out by off-sim islands, and a now moving fishing boat, the new Isle of May is a masterpiece of design – but I would add a small comment of my own: it is a very busy region, both in terms of visitors during this, its opening week, and as a result of things like the heavy snow falling. As such, it can take a toll on systems when visiting – so do be patient, and if you’re used to running with shadows enabled, you might want to turn them off except when taking photos – which can be shared through the region’s Flickr group.

Isle of May; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrIsle of May

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4 thoughts on “A winter’s return for the Isle of May in Second Life

  1. When wolves were re-introduced to Yellowstone Park, in 1995 after a 70 year absence (to control the elk population) scientists were amazed to see other benefits too. Trees grew and the rivers changed. The wolves triggered changes in the environment which had a flow on effect for the ecosystem, known as a Trophic Cascade.

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