Shawn Shakespeare suggested we make a further return visit to Lam Erin’s Cherishville over the weekend, noting it had been redesigned in readiness for autumn’s arrival in the northern hemisphere. So we hopped on the Second Life express and alighted at St. Bronxton Railway Station, a quaint little end-of-the-line station that is one of Cherishville’s many new features to capture the eye and the lens.
The region is now centred on a channel that cuts it neatly in two from east to north-west. With the stone-built banks topped by paved footpaths and spanned by a single bridge, the channel is bordered on either side by an assortment of buildings; so much so, that despite facing open water at either end, it has the look and feel of being the mouth of a small but navigable river, and the buildings on either side are the result of a estuary township, the people drawn here for the open seas and the opportunities for fishing and coastal commerce.
This little township is distinctly of two halves. The west bank of the river, which includes the landing point and the aforementioned railway station (set back from the river’s edge) has – to me at least – a very English feel to it. With the buildings crowding the waterfront, I was immediately put in mind of a small river estuary in Cornwall or Devon; the stone-built houses and shops speaking of a place that had in the past grown up as a result of commerce along the coast. In fact, such is the look to that side of the river, I wouldn’t have been surprised if during our visits, Aram Khachaturian’s Adagio from Spartacus welled up in the background as the Charlotte Rhodes hove into view, James Onedin at the helm (Yes, a (possibly obscure) British TV series reference thrown in as well!).
Across the stone bridge, the east side of the river has a more American look and feel to it: posters advertise Connecticut and New England lobster, Martha’s Vineyard gets a mention and the fuel prices are in USD. Even the wooden buildings have the look and feel of rural Americana.
But no matter what influences have been drawn into the design, both sides of the river have one thing in common – something also common to both sides of the Atlantic in the autumn: rain. To say this is coming down in buckets would be an understatement; for those so inclined, brollies, coats and wellies are the order of the day for a visit! Although truth be told, the rain (mesh elements places along the line of the river) add considerable atmosphere to the setting. It pounds the footpaths and board walks, given both a sheen that reflects lights (if you have ALM enabled!), while puddles set golden, red, orange and yellow leaves drifting under the influence of a gentle, rainy breeze.
Beyond the river and town, the land undulates in low, wooded hills or spread in flower-rich ground before dropping away to the water once more. A lighthouse raises a finger into the sky to the north-east, adding to the feel of this side of the river being more American in setting, whilst on the west side, the land is cut in part by the tracks curving out from Bronxton Railway Station, whilst also easing its way to a shingle ribbon of coast looking south and out towards two smaller islands, each topped by a cabin.
These cabins appear to be open to the public – at the time of our visit, the larger was unfurnished as well. However, as there are no obvious means to reach either of them save by swimming / flying, we didn’t venture any closer than the beach to find out, as we didn’t want to invade any privacy should either be for private use.
Not that any visit really is necessary: there is more than enough to see and photograph around the river front town and immediately behind its rows of buildings without every need to cross the water to the smaller islands. There are also plenty of spots scattered around when sitting and passing the time can be enjoyed – particularly along that southern ribbon of beach.
There are admittedly one or two rough elements in the design. Some of these are somewhat down to the nature of the mesh beast – it’s possible in places to find yourself walking in raindrop splashes hovering at waist level. Others may well be because Lam is still tweaking the design – on my return run for photographs, he was shuffling buildings, sorting out hovering trees and carrying out some general furnishing. Certainly, none of the is enough to completely spoil the setting or the autumnal feeling it imbues whilst wandering and exploring.
All told, another classic design from Lam, very different from its summer iteration (read here for more), but well in keeping with the upcoming seasonal change in the northern hemisphere (climate change allowing!), and very much worth the time to visit – as always, and photos welcome at the region’s Flickr group.
- Cherishville (Villa Baldeney, rated: Moderate)