Category Archives: My Bits

Isla Pey: happiness is getting things *just* so …

The cottage and gardens on the plateau

We’re into another quarter, so it must be time for me to fiddle with the island home 🙂 .

In January, we reverted back to using the Fanatik Rocky Island to give a little elevation to our island home, and while happy with the results, I couldn’t help but feel tweaks were necessary. For one thing, the rotation of that huge rock made the walk from house to boat house something of a trek. It had ended up this way because I thought that was the only way the Rocky island would decently fit the north end of the parcel, where we wanted it. Turned out, I’d measured things a little inaccurately, so if we sacrificed the ‘plane docks, it would actually just fit.

So, around went the 118 LI slab of land by 90-degrees, moving the footpath winding down the side so that it descends directly to the “field” at the foot of the cliffs. So far, so good, other than the loss of the ‘plane docks – and the burying of half the duck pond (which was not looked upon too kindly by our TLC ducks!). Cue a reshuffle of the landscape 🙂 .

The Botanical Enchanted Forest Tower and MSD Among the ruins – Isolde tower can be nicely merged to form a single ruin, and as both are mod, the stonework can be textured to they match. The upper platform on the Enchanted Forest Tower makes for a perfect setting for our MSD Dragon Garden piece.

I won’t bore you with a huge delve into things. Suffice it to say that the reshuffle actually improved things no end. For one thing, moving the pond helped me realise that with a little bit of re-texturing of the stonework, Kriss Lehmann’s Botanical Forest Ruins Tower could be combined with the MSD Among the Ruins – Isolde tower to produce a nicely expanded ruin on the west side of the island. This in turn provided a new home for our MSD Dragon Garden  (which is (reviewed here alongside the Among The Ruins Tower), with a cosy little snuggle beneath it, overlooking the relocated pond.

Looking across the pond from the sitting nook under one of the ruined towers

Moving the Rocky Island around also presented a much more flexible space in which to set the house and  gardens, with a little bit of terracing to break things up a bit. Everything is now much more conveniently located, and finally provided just the right post for out old well (a genuine steal from DIVAs Design at L$25), accessed via a gate (from Cube Republic’s Meadow Farm Fence kit, another recommendation) opening off the back of the garden.

And the ‘planes? Well, moving the pond made room for a smaller set of moorings, and a quick raid of my inventory produced an old Smith Fizz scene rezzing system. Nicely customisable, this now lets us rez whichever float ‘plane or helicopter we fancy using, whilst keeping the dock otherwise clear for friends to use when visiting, whether they come by air or water.

The towers lit at night, and the cottage in its new cliff-top location

So, are we happy with things – finally? Believe it or not, we both are. Will there be more changes in the future? Obviously, as there will always be nips and tucks, tweaks and additions. But unless we decide on a total make-over of the island for something completely new, I think that this time Isla Pey with its walks, ruins and house, is exactly how we both like it.

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The dragon, the rune stone and the ruin in Second Life

Three composite creations by Morgan Sim Designs with me alongside to give a sense of scale with each one. From the left: the Dragon Garden, the Rune Stone Garden and Among the Ruins – Isolde

Whilst visiting Spring Spirit recently (see: A Spring Spirit in Second Life), Caitlyn and I were both taken by a magnificent red dragon seated upon a rock amidst a spray of grass and flowers. Taking a peek at it, via the Edit floater, we were led to the Marketplace store of Morgan Sim Designs (MSD). While the name may be familiar to some, it was a new and virtual treasure trove for us – as it is likely to be for anyone looking to add some special touches to their landscape and / or garden.

Operated by Chandra Pelazzi, Morgan Sim Designs is a Marketplace-only store specialising in composite designs. That is, designs which bring together the full permission works of other creators to design and present a unique finished product.

Buying from the Marketplace without the means to check creations in-world can at times be a hit-and-miss affair: will the item really live up to the photos? Is there perhaps some unseen flaw or issue which might others dissuade a purchase? We’ve all likely had such feelings. From what we’ve seen (and purchased!) so far from Morgan Sim Designs there is absolutely no need to worry. The elements used in MSD creations are all good quality pieces from established creators, with the completed pieces by the MSD demonstrating a keen eye for colour, design and detail.

The MSD Dragon Garden on our home island

Take the dragon mentioned above, for example. Called the Dragon Garden, it combines a full perm dragon with plants by Better Gnomes and Cauldrons / Krikket Blackheart, and additional plants and flowers by Decor Depot / Styx Maven and Daffy’s Gadgetmania / Daffy Proto. Offered as Modify / Copy for just L$190, it is a marvellous feature for any garden, weighing in a 22 LI in its default size (as a Modify item it can be resized, which will reduce the LI if downsizing, or increase it if upsizing). We now have one, slightly reduced in size and LI (16), sitting in the “wilder” part of out gardens, keeping an eye on the lower lawns nearby.

Another MSD item now included at home is the Rune Stone Garden. This combines a central full perm version of a rune stone from Otherworld / AnnabelleApocalypse with flowers and plants again by Styx Maven and by Mesh Plants / Reid Parkin (a creator I’ve used in a number of builds), What A Mesh / Dennie Ling, and T-Spot Mesh / Teresa Matfield. At 21 LI in its default size, it is also supplied Copy / Modify, and we now have one sitting on the trail winding through the wooded part of the island, where (if I may say so), it looks superb 🙂 .

The MSD Rune Stone Garden in place on our island home

Another composite from MSD which sits well in out overall design is Among the Ruins – Isolde. A much larger piece, featuring the square tower of a castle by S&M Designs / Mikael Blogger, plants and flowers again by Reid Parkin and Teresa Matfield, together with Bad Katz / Katz Republic. It comes with a 40 LI impact in its default size, and includes a statue by DMC Creations / x1XDanteX4x, which stands amidst a spray of flower inside the tower.

Taken complete, these MSD designs and the others in the range, add a great amount of character and depth to a scene. As most are supplied Modify, not only can they be resized to deal with LI concerns, if required, they can be tweaked better suit specific needs. For example, we have an ancient stone wall running across part of the land which has needed something to bring a little more colour to it. Enter one of MSD’s Medieval Wall Ruins Cottage Garden sets. It was a simple matter to pull out the supplied wall section, slip in a section from the existing wall, and job done. Colour where it is needed, and everything nicely integrated. Even had some base rocks I could re-purpose!

The MSD Among the Ruins – Isolde tower at home on our island

If you are looking for little scenes and pieces to add colour  or interest to a part of your garden, parcel or region, and you’ve not come across Morgan Sim Designs, then the Marketplace store is well worth a perusal. Everything is very modestly priced; everything mentioned here was just L$190, which is something of an average price for the store. Even as I finish this article, another kit from MSD has slipped into my inventory, and will shortly appear in the garden 🙂 .

Teeing off in Second Life

There are many, many activities you can try in Second Life which you may not by able to participate in or enjoy in the physical world. For me this has meant – among other things – playing the odd round of golf (a game I am not overly fond of outside of SL!).

I first tried my hand at a full 18-hole golf course in 2014, when I visited the AERO Golf Club (you can read about that visit here). As I hadn’t been golfing for a while, I suggested to Caitlyn we give it a try together. Given the last time I visited AERO was in mid-2015, it seemed natural for us to head there.

I have no idea how many golf systems are available in Second Life, but the one employed by AERO is very easy to get to grips with and enjoy.  The course itself – the work of Kaja Ashland and Marcus Bremser – is very well laid-out, and was last redesigned in (I think) 2015. Visitors arrive on the east side of the region, on the front terrace of the clubhouse. A quick walk through to the back terrace will take you past the pool and to the golf shack tucked into a corner where you can pick-up your clubs, HUD and scorecard.

There are no fees for playing at AERO, but you will need to join the in-world group. When you have done so, touch the golf bag in the hut to receive your club (actually three in one), HUD and scorecard. Wear / add all three, and you are set to go! The first tee is just a short walk from the hut; a par 4, it takes you down the length of the canal which almost cuts the course in two.

AERO Golf Club: Caitlyn tees off!

AERO Golf Club: Caitlyn tees off!

Game play is a case of selecting your teeing spot between the two markers, selecting your club type from the HUD (driver, obviously when teeing-off), and then taking note of the wind speed and direction (indicated by a particle cloud which appears next to you when you select your club). The LEFT and RIGHT arrow keys can then be used to adjust the angle at which you will strike the ball (indicated by a pointer on the ground) to compensate for the wind and get your ball down towards the green. Then it is a case of making sure the cursor is over the ground and then clicking and holding the left mouse button to both commence your swing and select the force with which you hit the ball (indicated by a power bar). Releasing the mouse button completes your swing.

AERO Golf club: about to chip the ball onto the green. Note the wind speed cloud and direction pointer

AERO Golf Club: about to chip the ball onto the green. Note the wind speed cloud and direction pointer

The flight of a ball is indicated by a line. By default, this is white, but you can use the Settings option on the HUD to select a preferred colour – handy when playing in a group. Additional strokes are played the same way, with the option of using a wedge for chipping up onto a green or getting out of a bunker, and a putter when on the green. Throughout it all your scorecard will track your shots and keep score.

The holes themselves vary in difficulty – and shorter par holes are not necessarily easier than those with a dog leg or other obstacle: the shorter par needs a steady finger on the strength of your swing or you can end up well into the rough on the far side of the hole!

The eleventh hole has a wicked shot across a bay which cuts into the course, requiring you select your teeing-off spot with care. Should your ball fall into the water at any time, the easiest thing is to remain where you are and try again.

One might argue that it would be nice to have a wider selection of clubs – particularly if you are a golfer – than just the driver, wedge and putter. But the truth is, these are more than adequate and mean that a round of golf is enjoyable without becoming taxing or complicated for the occasional / novice player.

I do have a couple of very small tips: if you use an over-the-shoulder camera view by default, you might want to centre your camera up when playing to get an more accurate view of the ground pointer. Also, if you have double-click to teleport enabled, you might want to turn it off; I carelessly mis-clicked on a putt and ended up attempting to teleport on the spot and lost a stroke.

AERO golf club: Caitlyn makes the putt!

AERO Golf Club: Caitlyn makes the putt!

As well as the 18 holes, AERO offers a poolside terrace and an indoor bar for socialising after a game. The cliff-sided bay I mentioned above has a small beach offering deck chairs and loungers, and there are several points around the course where you can take a break from play and enjoy a chat. You  can also break-off from a round if  the physical world or other requirements intrude; your card will retain your score and progress. However, the clubs are time-limited; should you return and find they have expired, simply obtain a new HUD, club and scorecard from the golf shack, and use the clubs / HUD with your “old” scorecard, and you’ll be able to finish your round.

Should you enjoy your time at AERO, do consider making a donation towards the upkeep of the course, and if you end up playing regularly there, you might want to purchase the pro scorecard – again, the fee goes towards the course.

AERO Golf Club is one of several scattered across Second Life and offers a fun way to enjoy golf in Second Life amidst gorgeous surroundings. Other clubs can be found in the Sports & Hobbies section of the Destination Guide (and doubtless elsewhere in the DG as well!).

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Celebrating the Oscars at Caitinara Bar, Second Life

The limos start to arrive at the spotlights roam the skies outside Caitinara Bar

The limos start to arrive at the spotlights roam the skies outside Caitinara Bar

On Wednesday, February 8th, we opened the new look Caitinara Bar with our monthly Music With Anthony theme night – an opportunity for friends and guests to dress up and come along to the bar and have a little extra fun and conversation.

As February is the month of the Academy Awards, we’d decided to have our own celebration of the music and songs from award-winning films over the decades, as well as music and songs from this year’s nominees. To help set the mood, we did a little decorating as well: spotlight swivelling across the skies outside, a red carpet extending from roadside into the bar, complete with photo backdrop for those wanting to grab a snap or two (we kept the paparazzi outside!), and Oscar himself adorning the walls.

Ylva, Patti and Kerena

Ylva, Patti and Kerena

As people began to arrive, so the music started to play – Anthony had selected some of the more recent hits from major award-winning films, and as more arrived so the requests came in as well. Of course, there were the classics, like Moon River (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), When You Wish Upon A Star (Pinocchio), Windmills of Your Mind (The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968), to the songs we perhaps grew up with, like Up Where We Belong (An Officer and a Gentleman), through to more recent ballads, such as Adele’s Skyfall – and many, many more.

Everyone took to the evening in style, the gents looking dapper and dashing, the ladies glittering in frocks and gowns, and the conversation flowed around the music. sadly, we didn’t get the red carpet photos we’d hoped, but the sekrit camera was floating around the dance floor, allowing me to capture the odd shot or two :). If you’re not included in the pictures here, my apologies – I’ll make sure to catch you at the next event!

Bou, Anthony, Sam and Sister

Bou, Anthony, Sam and Sister

If you couldn’t make it to this month’s special event, our next is on Wednesday, March 1st, when we’ll be featuring the music of the New Romantics.  BUT! Don’t forget we have music and dancing at the bar every Wednesday and Friday, from 4:00pm through 6:00pm SLT on each evening, with Anthony Westburn providing the tunes on Wednesdays and Joy Canadeo playing them on Fridays.

So, why not make a note in your diaries and come along and join us? And don’t forget as well, Holly Kai Park is always open for visits, complete with our regular art exhibitions and displays.

Caitlyn and I pause for photos on the red carpet!

Caitlyn and I pause for photos on the red carpet!

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This article also appears on the Holly Kai Park blog.