It’s been a year since we lasted visited Arol Lightfoot’s Homestead region design of Carolina, so given it is back in a summertime look, we hoped over recently to see what was new and found the answer to be, “Everything!”
In the summer of 2019, Carolina was very much tropical in nature with lowlands, beaches and bays all combining into a setting ripe for wildlife and opportunities to wander (see: The beaches of Carolina in Second Life). For summer 2020, the lowland feel to the region is largely retained – with two very obvious exceptions – but the setting is very much more temperate in style.
Those exceptions are two tables of the rock that rise in the south-east corner of the region, separated one of the other by a narrow gorge but maintaining contact by means of the rope bridge that has been slung between them. The larger of the two sits bare-headed save for a single wooden frame. Its south side drops straight and true to a lip of rocky land that sits above the region’s one major stretch of sand; to the north it in part falls to a set of low-lying steps that then descend onwards to the region’s inland grasslands.
The second plateau reverses this arrangement: its north side drops sheer to the lowlands, whilst its south face steps down towards the sea in a series of rocky shelves over which water tumbles to form three streams that spread out to the surrounding waters like splayed toes.
The landing point sit on the larger table mountain, the wooden frame forming the upper end of a zip line (Cube Republic’s excellent design) that presents the only way down other than stepping off the edge of the cliffs and trying to avoid hitting the ground below too hard. The line stretches out over the southern lands, crossing above grass, sand and sea as it descends to reach a small, crooked headland, where sits a small lighthouse and an accompanying modest bonfire.
Where you go from here is up to you: scramble down the rocks and you can follow the beach as it points eastwards until it arrives at the splayed toes of the mountain steams. Or you can turn slightly inland and follow the gravel path that runs in the same direction as the beach, but along the lip of rock that sits above the sand. This route has the advantage of offering a bridge over one of the streams and the opportunity to strike off inland through the gorge between the high hills. Or, you can leave the beach and path along the south side of the region until later, and head immediately inland from the lighthouse and headland.
It is this last route that will open the rest of the region to you, revealing it as a land rich in oak and willow and ash and birch, the trees scattered across the grasslands and around the small bays that sculpt the coastline. Three buildings sit upon the land, all ranged to the north and varying in style from a cosy waterfront cabin that looks east over the little curve of sand, gravel and rock that might pass as the region’s second beach, through a summer house sitting within its own wild garden whilst offering more creature comforts within, to a solid rectangle of a house that sits on a rounded north-west headland as if awaiting occupancy.
There are multiple ways to reach all three, and all of them are set far enough part such that walking between them will reveal more of the island’s secrets. But as cosy (at least with two of them) and attractive as they are, and deserving they may be of being seen, they are not the focal points for the region. That honour goes to the large pond sitting close the the centre of the land and from which a great weeping willow rises, offering shade and coolness beneath its drooping arms.
With mist curling around the base of the tree and the water topped by reeds, lilies, marsh plants and waterlogged grass, the pond is home to all manner of birds and waterfowl that make it a haven for photography, while the piers and open-sided boat offer places for romance and sitting within its arms.
It is in wandering the island and finding it wildlife – birds, frogs, otters, bears – and the accompanying animals – dogs, cats, horses – that gives Carolina a depth of life. While the many ways to explore it give plenty of opportunities to find the little surprises (I presume the telephone box sits among the firs and birch of the gorge is there just in case someone want to make a … trunk call!) and touches that lie throughout.
Rezzing in the region is open – but visitors are asked to kindly restrict this to poses and props for photos and to please clean up when they’ve done. For those seeking a place to sit and cuddle / chat / pass the time, Carolina offers numerous places where all three can be enjoyed, once again making it another engaging and charming build from Arol.
- Carolina (Margarita, rated Moderate)