Shawn Shakespeare (SkinnyNilla) and Lien Lowe invited me to get a sneak peek of their new design for their homestead region of Nelipot ahead of the region’s “official” re-opening in its new location – an invitation I was delighted to accept and jump upon.
The first time I visited the region, it offered a ruggedly handsome island surrounded by gently undulating off-region hills that together suggested a temperate archipelago, perhaps caught in early spring. Within the region itself lay a richness and depth of detail that delighted the eye and camera, as I noted at the time in Nelipot’s beauty in Second Life. This remains the case with this latest iteration, which includes a number of touches that harken back to that previous design that give an underlying sense of continuity between the two settings whilst also allowing this iteration to be unique in and of itself.
While the region still sits within a surround, the low island hills have given way to a range of high mountains through which water from the sea beyond winds, giving the impression that the land here is a small nest of islands cupped within a sheltered bay, the tall peaks protecting and hiding them from the world beyond.
There are four islands making up the group. two small islets, one of which comes close to being an outlier such is its position and difference to the others in the group, and two main islands that sit as a cupped pair. Lying towards the south-west, the landing point is on one of the smaller islands, a grass-topped table of rock which the landing point shares with a small chapel. It is separated from the two large islands by a channel of tidal water that can be crossed in one of three ways: wading through it, flying over it, or by grabbing a swan pedal boat from the rezzer at the little dock just down from the chapel.
Taking the pedal boat is perhaps the best option for those who wish to really appreciate the region naturally, as it presents the opportunity to skirt around the beach of the more western of the two large islands to reach the shallow open waters to the north. Here, it is possible to pedal around and have a little fun – providing boaters keep an eye out for the region boundary. More particularly, it presents the two large islands as they lie, one cupped in the curving arms of the other, the beach of the nearest of the pair continuing along its north side, facing the second of the two small isles.
This second islet looks almost like a an upwelling of coral that, for whatever reason, a departing sea level has exposed over time to allow nature’s other mechanisms – wind, rain, erosion – gradually turn into a group of connected knolls that offer a little retreat covered in scrub grass and where seeds of flowers have been blown to take root together with a quartet of scruffy, wind-blown pines.
A further boat rezzer sits on a deck built out from this little isle, providing the means for visitors to come ashore and enjoy the islet’s offering before continuing their journey aboard another pedal boat. East of the isle the water is broken by humps of rock that stretch towards the headland at one end of the largest island in the group. Sitting like stepping stones a giant might use to cross the water, these rocks sit as a hazard to navigation by boat – but is is possible to plot a route through them and so reach the calmer channel of water that separates the two large islands.
Crescent-shaped, the larger of the pair holds its sandy-edged cousin cupped in its arms. Such is their position relative to one another, it appears as if these may have once been a single landmass, the slender tongue of land that almost connecting them adding to this – although the dilapidated state of the bridge that spans the narrow gap between tongue and island also suggests it’s been around a long time, so if the two islands were ever connected, then it might have been very long ago…
All of the above is just a thumbnail sketch of the setting – the real meat is in the detail that Lien and Shawn have built into it, something they have done without a major impact on viewer performance. It is within some of this detail that those little echoes of the previous build can be found. Take, for example the sheep that graze on the crescent island, and the way some of them are doing so close to a parked vehicle. This directly reflects Nelipot’s previous iteration, whilst the change in vehicle and presence of the nearby headland and its lighthouse makes it clear its is not just a copy of the past design.
The best way to discover this details – the warehouse converted into a cosy house, the summer house on the beach island, the open-sided pottery shed with its pot-bellied kiln and pots and vases that await glazing and firing, and so on – is by exploring directly. This brings into focus the care with which Shawn and Lein have again created a setting that is welcoming to visitors and offers multiple places, indoors and out, where people can sit and pass the time and enjoy cuddles and quiet times if they so wish.
Exploring also reveals all the little touches that help bring the setting to life – the wrap-around sound scape, the St. Bernard waiting to greet wanderers and the many cats who are content to sleep or ignore those who wander by in that way only cats can – aside from one, who is very clearly keeping his eyes on all that is going on from his vantage point! -, and so much more.
Rich in natural beauty, complete with a perfect soundscape folded into it, Nelipot remains a must-see destination. Many thanks to Lien and Shawn for the invite to drop in!
- Nelipot (Safe Haven, rated Moderate)