November has rolled around once more, and in the northern hemisphere, winter is wrapping its arms slowly around us, prompting thoughts to turn towards thoughts of white Chirstmases, snowy holidays, skating, jingling bells, a chubby chappie with a bushy white beard (as he has become, courtesy of Haddon Sundblom), and more.
All of these “traditions” tend to come to the fore in Second Life as the end of the year rolls rapidly closer, with regions across the grid being re-dressed with snow and decorated trees to offer the opportunity for winter walks and /or romance, winter fun and photography. These regions take many forms, so much so that we are often spoiled for choice in terms of where to visit, what to see and do, so I’m getting this one in early, after taking the recommendation of my “sim sleuth”, Shawn Shakespeare.
Monverdun is a Homestead region designed by yoyo Collas with the support of AmyDenise which offers, as the About Land description notes, a variety of winter / seasonal offerings liable to suit anyone, no matter what their wintertime preferences. And for me, that description is not wrong, as I’ll get too shortly.
Whilst describing itself as a “city”, the setting is really far more rural than that. Cut through from east to west by a broad river bordered on one side by a major road which does suggest it is a major artery leading to / from a major conurbation, and beyond which lie high snowy peaks suggesting this is a place sitting within a broad (and possibly formerly glacial) valley.
Between the river and road and the mountain slopes, the landscape is largely wooded, the southern side of the setting dominated by a large country-style house. Across the frozen waters of the river are two former boathouses, now converted into riverside cabins with plenty of cosy warmth within them. Sitting between the two cabins is a large skating rink, blazing braziers and a hot chocolate kiosk offering the chance to warm both hands and insides for those who find the air and setting a little cold.
The rink – which offers the visitors the chance to skate – and cabins have attracted the attention of a string (or stud) or horses, the line of which passes behind them to stretch across the river and back through the woods near the country house. Okay, so maybe the rink and cabins aren’t the attraction for the horses; they are more likely moving to find pastures that are possibly easier to reach through the snow to be found on the north side of the region. However, their passage past the cabin and rink offers an additional sense of magic to both rink and cabins.
However, these horses, making their way over the frozen water, form a rounded pointer back towards the large country house on the south side of the region suggesting they may have come from it – a suggestion possibly supported by the fact the house has stables along one wing. And it is this country house that actually attracted me to the region – although the reason for this is slightly convoluted and has little to do with Second Life.
This is because – a fair while ago now – the Christmas period for me was a time spent away from home at a country house hotel that offered a complete “non-Christmas, Christmas” – good company among friends, warm fires, wonderful meals, the opportunity to go to the local parish church services for those who wished, and most of all (as selfish as it might sound) the chance to just escape the rest of the world for a few days.
Whilst that country house did not feature a Christmas market sitting before its main entrance, nor does it sit alongside a major road, there is something about the looks and styling of the house within Monverdun which carried me back to those days of Christmas getaways. For others, the region’s setting might offer different attractions and memories.
For example, with the hints of the 1940s in some of the traffic together the snow and lights, it’s not too hard to imagine Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey rushing along one side of the road, running back to town and home to face his future in It’s A Wonderful Life; while the hansom cab outside the gates leading to the country house offer a suggestion of Victorian Christmases (something not entirely unconnected to Capra’s 1946 film mentioned above).
Richly photogenic and engaging Monverdun makes for a visit that will likely sit one’s imagination, offering much of the seasonal spirit without being overbearing.
- Snowy Monverdun (Monverdun, rated Moderate)