It was back to Bella’s Lullaby for me recently, after Shawn Shakespeare let me know the setting has a springtime rebuild by holder Bella (BellaSwan Blackheart) – and given its been around 6 months since my last visit and the fact that it has since moved to a new region – it was actually about time I dropped by again!
Bella’s Lullaby has always offered something of an easy, tranquil visit for those dropping in, and this remains the case with the current design. Set beneath a spring sky in which the Sun’s light is enough to wash the off-region islands in a bright haze, yet overcast enough to suggest spring showers might be on the way, the region again offers a pleasing mix of land and water – in this case, two long islands split by an off-centre channel running north-to-south between them, and plenty of open spaces, together with a sprinkling of buildings and structures across both islands.
With the channel splitting the islands guarded at each end by a tall windmill sitting on its own small island and a squat lighthouse rising from the waters on four sturdy legs respectively, the two large isles are connected by a single low bridge that effectively presents passage along the entire channel by the little boats dotted along its length. Not, given the rocky, shoal-like nature of parts of the channel, that this would necessarily be possible even were it sans a bridge.
The landing point sits within the courtyard of a small café sitting upon the larger island. This is actually one of three brick-built structures on this island; to the south stand a pair of linked shops which some visitors may recognise as also having made an appearance in the previous iteration of Bella’s Lullaby, and which now rise shoulder-to-shoulder from a paved square. Between these shops and café lies the remaining brickwork, a long, tall wall that divides the land between them even whilst it starts and finishes without apparent purpose, a single door set within it.
A low, capped stone wall runs parallel to the waterway to also help connect shop to café, whilst something of an overgrown garden sitting between the latter and the brick wall also acts to draw café, wall and shops together to complete a vignette awaiting exploration. Surrounding the shops is a degree of urban detritus – a telephone box, vehicles, an aging bus stop and tram sans tracks – that help to give them a further unique sense of presence in this place.
However, these are not the only buildings to be found within the setting. Sitting over the waters of the channel is a wood-built artist’s studio, whilst on the other island sit a wooden barn and a small brick-built cottage with but a single room offering a cosy observation point – although the sign hanging above the door seems to suggest it was going to be something else. Barn and cottage sit at opposite end of their island, a scattering of birch trees and the hints of a once-cobbled path connecting them.
Throughout the entire sitting there is much attention to detail – such as a robin helping himself to a meal outside the café, the carving of a heron watching the narrow waterway, the cats lazing in the Sun, and so on. There are also multiple places to sit to be found across the landscape, indoors, and out on the water and within some of the vehicles, whilst photographers will doubtless find much to capture and frame as well.
Bella’s region designs never fail to offer something fresh and uplifting to see and appreciate, and this latest iteration of Bella’s Lullaby is no exception. The open landscape that runs over the two main islands gives one a sense of space and peace, the trees and shrubs also presenting a sense of privacy in the way they break-up the low-lying lands, whilst the generally overgrown / unkempt nature of the spaces around the buildings hints at a sense of age / the passing of time.
This is very much a setting where one can gain a sense of being able to breathe and leave worries and concerns behind, whether one opts to sit quietly or explore and spend time spotting the local birds and the other fowl that make up the majority of the inhabitants.
- Bella’s Lullaby (Appletor, rated Moderate)