I’ve recently received several suggestions / invitations for region visits, which I’m trying to work my way through in some semblance of order – thank you to everyone who sends them by IM, note card or via the blog itself.
One of the locations passed to me a couple of weeks back was for ChicLand. It came via Morgana Carter after I wrote about Poison Rouge (see: Sampling some Poison Rouge in Second Life), with a note accompanying it to explain that like that region, ChicLand is both the home of a store – Lilo Denimore’s ChicChica (I’m using the region’s formal designation in this piece to differentiate it from the store) – and a landscaped public setting open to visitors, so might I be interested in taking a look?
A Full region, Chicland is a setting of multiple parts. The store itself is located in the sky, reached via a teleport in the from of a large arrow at the main landing point. As such, it does not intrude into the multi-faceted landscape that flows outwards from the landing point to offer a rich assortment of locations and ideas to explore, appreciate and photograph.
At the foot of the steps leading down from the landing point is a broad French boulevard, lined by the façades of tall town houses and places of business, vehicles parked at the roadside and under the shade of the richly blossoming trees that march down either side of the road. Blossom petals drift on the breeze that’s gently funnelled by the height of the houses, the fluttering of the petals attracting the attention of a local cat. Static NPCs provide further depth to the scene, the mother and daughter in front of the ice cream kiosk particularly grabbing attention thanks to the upturns cone on the path nearby its former topping now oozing over the concrete suggesting a slight accident has prompted a return to the kiosk to stem the resultant upset.
The road winds on to pass under the single span of an elevated walkway (that it goes nowhere makes no difference, it acts as a unique form of gateway) to arrive at a fresh produce market that offers a view across the region whilst remaining separated from it by the surrounding wrought iron fence; to reach the landscape beyond the fence it is necessary to either jump it or, more easily, re-trace steps and find an alternative route – thus encouraging exploration.
One of these alternate routes reveals the cleverness in parts of the design: one of the façades of town houses is double-sided. On the one side it forms an aspect of the street scene first encountered on leaving the landing point, whilst on the other it offers another row of of house fronts overlooking a marvellous walled garden space (one of two in the region, in fact, the other being alongside the produce market). The use of the façade in this way thus gives the impression the urban aspect of the region is much larger than its actual footprint.
The walled garden here offers a lot to take in, including a path through to the rest of the region – although you do have to pick your way through the flowers growing around the borders of the garden space in order to reach the gates. Beyond the garden sits open countryside through which a stream meanders and which is watched over on the far side by a Tuscan style farmhouse sitting atop a low butte of rock and reached by a rough park.
A dusty track winds across this open landscape from the bridge connecting it with the town’s garden. This passes along the side of an orchard that straddles the path up to the farmhouse, and points the way to more places to discover: a little pergola where tea from a samovar might be enjoyed with some sweet desserts, and also a vine-enshrouded garden bar where a more varied selection of refreshments might be had. There’s also a playground and a Romany caravan to be enjoyed along the way, each offering views across the stream to two eye-catching terrariums.
From the end of one arm of this dusty track, a grassy trail points the way onwards to the lee of the rocky table on which the farm house is perched. It leads to a cosy vineyard where the freshly decanted produce of vine and fermentation might be sampled in comfort.
Lightly furnished and sitting slightly above a walled courtyard, the farmhouse offers another retreat – although how to reach it from the courtyard may initially have you guessing, given it appears to sit on a sheer-sided block of rock with no visible steps cut into it. But check around to one of the sides, and you’ll find a steep, grassy slope provides the means to scramble up to the house. The courtyard itself is home to a little vegetable garden and cows and geese, both of which make it a little noisy, but for those who do not mind and farmyard noises, further freshly press grape juice and nibbles at a table are awaiting enjoyment.
All of this and several more elements I’ve not mentioned in the piece make ChicLand a joy to explore. Each of these elements stands both as a part of and a part from, the whole, offering both a continuous setting and a series of individual vignettes that can uniquely catch the eye and / or camera lens. However, what I found particularly attractive were all the little touches awaiting discovery that give the region a sense of life.
There’s the mother / daughter vignette at the ice cream kiosk I mentioned earlier, complete with dropped cone. It is balanced by a woman holding up a small boy, both of them looking to the same point, inviting the suggestion they are posing for a photograph. There are also little touches of humour awaiting discovery – and I do mean little! – as anyone who spots grandpa gnome, his audience and his clearly less-than-happy wife will doubtless agree!
Rich in detail throughout whilst avoiding overly taxing the viewer, ChicLand has much by which to commend itself to the casual visitor and the Second Life explorer alike, with the teleport up to the store offering the chance to mix a little shopping with exploration and photography.
- ChicLand (rated: Moderate)