The serpentine beauty of Lake NumB in Second Life

Lake NumB, February 2020 – click and image for full size

Surrounded by tall green mountains and with fir trees in places lining its shore, Lake NumB sits hidden from the rest of the world, its waters a colour suggestive of great depth. It lies within with the hills uninterrupted save for a single, sinuous island that appears to be swimming through the blue waters from east to west, the narrow stripe of a stream running through it from end-to-end along its green back.

Designed by Num Bing, this homestead setting is stunning in its simplicity and beauty, and offered to visitors because – to use Num’s words:

I wanted to create a little spot… a stream banked with nature… with photo & relaxation spots… so here we are… wander & enjoy…

Lake NumB, February 2020

The landing point is on a wooden bridge spanning the stream towards its western end. To the south of this, a carpet of grass sits between water’s edge and stream to provide a access to two greenhouses. The first, and nearer of these, is a near-pristine structure tucked into a grove of fir trees and offering a quiet retreat – one of several throughout this meandering isle.

The second greenhouse sits further east, where the land rises very slightly between curtains of rock. It is older than the first, its frame now without glass but with net curtains hanging on one side. It offers a large tub of water as an escape for one our two people, the water warmed by copper coils absorbing the heat from a naked fire sitting alongside it. Nearby, grassy steps lead down to a deck sitting over the waters of the north shore, while to the south a second bridge offers way back to the path that runs between it and the landing point.

Lake NumB, February 2020

Beyond this, the island continues east, the land lined with trees, shrubs and flowers and grass paths encourage explorers forward to discover all the hidden delights to be found. And these delights are many: places to sit, decks over the water, little glades, and an out-thrust of land that offers a formal garden with checker board pebbles, trimmed hedgerows and topiary.

Extending out into the lake, the garden looks to have been artificially added to the island, and is home to another frame – for either a greenhouse or shed – that sits unfinished and provides home for an setting ready for afternoon tea complete. Entertainment is waiting to be provided by the most charming clavicytherium that came as a particular delight to me, as I had no idea one was available in SL (so kudos to Jake Vordun, its creator!).

Lake NumB, February 2020

Beautifully designed and presented, Lake NumB does precisely what Num Bing intended of it: presents a natural setting rich in places to relax and opportunities for photography (images can be submitted to the region’s Flickr group, if desired); it’s a place that works under multiple windlight options and encourages visitor to stay a while and that shouldn’t be missed.

Our thanks to Annie Brightstar for the tip.

Lake NumB, February 2020

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Beaming in to Aoshima in Second Life

Aoshima, February 2020 – click any image for full size

New Eldelyn is a garden world located on the far edge of the Circinus Stream. It is the new homeworld of the Kalimshari, following their exile from their home galaxy to the harrowing horrors of the void.

– from the “WikiDex, the free galactic codex”

This is the informative greeting given (via a holographic sign board) to arrivals at the landing station at Aoshima, a homestead region designed by Rydia Lacombe that is both a private home and a public space in which visitors are welcome to spend time and explore.

Aoshima, February 2020

It’s a nicely presented setting, carefully considered and with a flow that makes exploration pleasantly relaxing, starting with the feeling of having just landed after a voyage through space. This is achieved by playing the landing point at the foot of the boarding / cargo ramp of a vehicle modelled after the Star Trek Online Delta Class of shuttle (which in turn was derived from the Delta Flyer from Star Trek Voyager). Around the landing pad are all the signs that this is a busy centre of operations: cargo bins and equipment sit to one side of pad, a storage unit on the other, while small drones periodically arrive to collect or deposit more cargo boxes and carry out repairs.

Beyond the landing pad gateway sits a raised walkway offering access to piers extend over the water, ready to receive water craft  arriving from the seas  that lie beyond the surrounding atoll hills. Beyond the piers, a series of habitat units have been stacked, awaiting occupancy.

Aoshima, February 2020

Like the rest of the station, the landing pay and the habitat modules sit on decks raised above the all-encompassing sea, suggesting that while the station sits within a bay formed by surrounding islands, the land is far too rugged to allow any form of homestead to be established on it. Instead, the rest of the facilities sit on five more such pontoons, three of which are directly connected one to another and linked to the landing pad by a low-slung light bridge – note that if this isn’t apparent, touch the blue pad on the lag of the white gate at the water’s edge and facing the central group of structures.

The middle island in this trio appears to be a domed recreational / refreshments centre for the station’s personnel. it is bracketed on one side by a garden area with further habitat modules waiting to be pressed into service, and which forms a home for solar arrays that help provide the station with power. Some of this may well go to the industrial facilities on the other side of the recreational pontoon. Within this workspace are more modules, a greenhouse and silos, all watched over by a  – somewhat ominous – tower block. Lit from within but with frosted as if to hide whatever is going on inside, this sits on its own pontoon adjoining the industrial area, blue laser-like beams menacingly guarding the arched gateway between the two.

Aoshima, February 2020

The final pontoon sits beyond the recreational centre, another light bridge spanning the gap between the two. It presents a private dwelling surrounded by a garden of Earth-like plants combined with what appear to be local flora. Split over two floors, this accommodation is considerably larger than the modules found across the rest of the station, with plenty of space for those living within it.

Life is brought to the setting through the combined use of NPC characters that can be encountered while exploring – one of whom appears to subscribe to the idea that if it looks complicated, it probably needs a bigger hammer, – and by the numerous drones flying around the station, carrying boxes or welding equipment, together with the flyers that periodically pass overhead.

Aoshima, February 2020

Also overhead sits the ICV Kyrona, which appears to be a sublight cargo hauler (at least going by the stasis pods housed within it) that has been converted into something of a space-going home. Reached via a teleport disc within the cargo bay of the ground-level shuttle, the Kyrona is also open to exploration, the teleport disc in the stern compartment returning visitors to the shuttle when they have done so.

Aoshima makes for an engaging visit, with – as noted – plenty to capture the eye and camera. Finished with a suitable sound scape, it does have a smattering of adult items scattered around, but for the most part these are placed so as to be nicely tucked out of the way so as not to be obtrusive, and so should nod interfere with a visit.

Aoshima, February 2020

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Finding The Muse in Second Life

The Muse – The Library, February 2020 – click any image for full size

The Muse is a new Homestead region design that has recently opened to the public to offer “a place to find your own muse”. It is a group build by the wonderfully named United Nerds of Building, led by FenrisJohnson, and offers a series of interlinked settings available for exploration, photography, romance, dancing and relaxation.

In all there are six core areas within the region to be explored, with the landing point – which is not enforced – routed to the region’s sky platform; the remaining five being at ground level within a contiguous landscape. These five locations are: the Library, the Elven Ballroom, Gypsy Lane, Nemo’s Rest and The Pond, and all of them are connected to one another and the sky platform via teleport boards – but exploration on foot is the best way to appreciate those on the ground.

The Muse – Elven Ballroom, February 2020

The Library sits close to the centre of the region, adjoining a mesa that rises above the otherwise flat terrain. It is reached via a curving stairway that rises from a point just around the corner from the teleport board serving it, the path to it running between the sheer face of the mesa and a fast-flowing stream that runs outward from it and to the sea. The building is one suggestive of great age and with a fantasy lean. And while the Library may not have a plethora of books for avid readers, it does present a cosy retreat with views out over the landscape to the surrounding off-shore (off-sim) islets.

A walk along a narrow viaduct to one side of the Library and then between tall trees, will bring you to the Pond, a broad body of water occupying the top of the plateau that feeds four falls that drop into narrow streams to cut the landscape into four unequal quarters, each stream crossed by an identical humpbacked bridge, a mix of footpath and rutted track connecting them.

The Muse – Nemo’s Rest, February 2020

Two of these bridges are reached from the steps leading up to the The Library. Go north along the west side of the path, and crossing the bridge in that direction will deliver you to the arches and circle of the Elven Ballroom, the arches forming a pair of walks leading to and from the circular stone dance floor that is ghost an ethereal light by spheres hanging within the boughs of the surrounding trees.

Eastwards from the Library’s steps, the path passes over another bridge and to low grasslands bordering Nemo’s Rest, the home to the grounded wreck of a submarine, its hollowed-out shell of its hull forming a cosy hideaway.

The Muse – Gypsy Row, February 2020

Beyond both Nemo’s Rest and the Elven Ballroom sits Gypsy Lane, a row of three large Romany caravans sitting under the lee of the plateau and between it and a coastal woodland running along the north-east side of the island. Each of the caravans offers another cosy place to spend time, each one far enough from its neighbour(s) to invoke a sense of privacy.

The skyborne part of the region offers a large dance floor encircled by floating islands set against a backdrop of deep space. The dance floor has an animated wave-like finish to it and coral garden at its centre, while the islands surrounding it are connected one to the next by rope bridges and steps leading down to the first from the dance area. Each of the islands has its own small attraction – places to sit, Tai Chi, etc., – whilst floating a short distance away is a little space station that presents a further private space, while the local blue whale offers rides around the platform for those so inclined.

The Muse – Space, February 2020

A setting that is ideal for easy exploration and offers much for avatar-related photography, The Muse is a nicely designed and serene in setting. Our thanks to Liss Beattie for pointing us to it!

SLurls

Peaceful Play, the home of The Muse is rated Adult.

Visiting Garrigua in Second Life

Garrigua, February 2020 – click any image for full size

Garrigua is a relatively new Full private region leveraging the 10K land capacity bonus to present both an environment open to exploration and offering a limited number of private rentals.

The region is apparently intended to offer a slice of southern France, although many of the houses found within it have something of a Tuscan lean – but are not out-of-place in doing so. Designed by Terry Fotherington, famous for the Kekeland / Bar Deco settings, the region offers something of an echo of one of his Keleland iterations along its north and south waterfronts – which also is not to say it is any way a copy of that build; the similarity being gained through the bright colours of the south side buildings and the harbour areas they overlook, and the north side off-shore mooring with their sail boats.

Garrigua, February 2020

The landing point is on a south-side road that cuts canyon through the aforementioned town houses and places of business, some of which separate the street from the beach and waterfront. Some of these building form a courtyard around a square garden, with the seaward side buildings of the courtyard sitting atop the region’s sea wall, and home to a bar and café that offer a view out to sea and the harbour to the west.

A place of business, the harbour offers fuelling and repairs for small boats and is home to a small marine research unit. It is overlooked to the west by a small headland camp site.

Garrigua, February 2020

The north side of of the region appears to be where the rental properties are located – three on the waterfront to the east, separated from the sea by a ribbon of wave-eroded land that might form a beach at low tide, while the fourth sits offshore as a walled villa, complete with its own landing for boats. Between the waterfront houses and villa sits a wooden pier with shallow water moorings for sailing boats watched over by one of the region’s three lighthouses.

A dirt track runs east to west across these north side lowlands to connect with a paved road that links to the southern aspects of the setting and the inland uplands and north side of the island. Rising from behind the three rental houses, ir separates them from a privately-held farm on its other side. Another farm sits to the west, but appears to be open to the public, the meadow around the two farm houses rich in lavender.

Garrigua, February 2020

As is always the case with Terry’s designs, there is a huge amount packed into this region: there are numerous places to sit and pass the time; cars and scooters and bike sit along the streets, giving a sense of the comings and goings of life; the way the roads all lead to a tunnel that emerges from the central uplands, suggesting the region is connected to somewhere else beyond the far end of the tunnel.

A stream also tumbles from these central uplands, running westwards to meet the sea, partially dissecting the region with rocky rapids. Other natural touches include the sheep wandering across the road, bringing local traffic to a temporary halt; donkeys stand in a field watching the comings and goings along the farm track whilst geese no doubt tease them with occasion honks as they wander by, unhampered by the fences that hold the Donkeys in place.

Garrigua, February 2020

There is a subtle sense of age to the region as well: the local bus stop is little more than a corrugated tin shell, its paint slowly losing the battle with rust and held up by a wooden frame, while the carcasses of rusting vehicles can be found peppered across parts of the region, some turned into cuddle spaces, others left to turn to dust. Most striking of all is the old villa sitting towards the centre of the region.

Aged, plaster falling from the walls, the villa is dominated by a tree within its courtyard that has been left to its own devices for so long, it is starting to push against the walls. The rooms are similarly losing their battle with nature, with even a sapling taking root to push its way up through the floor ad seek the Sun by forcing its way through boards that once blocked a window before succumbing to death, leaving bare branches grasping outwards. All of which makes for a perfect location for photography.

Garrigua, February 2020

Given the volume of mesh and textures in the region, movement around it can be subject to performance issues, particularly if there is a reasonable number of avatars present – so be prepared to make adjustments to your viewer settings if you find things a little heavy going.  However, the region makes for a picturesque, photogenic visit.

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Villa Eirini at Calas Galadhon in Second Life

Villa Eirini, Calas Galadhon, February 2020 – click any image for full size

Calas Galadhon is one of the gems of Second Life – and somewhere we always enjoy visiting. Designed and operated by Tymus Tenk and Truck Meredith, together with their team of volunteers, this 13-region park offers something for everyone: wide open spaces to enjoy on foot or via horseback – those with wearable horses can use their own, while there are horse rezzers to be found around the park; there are opportunities for boating, balloon rides, dancing (including at events at the park’s various locations), and much more.

February 2020 saw the addition of a new attraction to the park: Villa Eirini, and as with everything else at Calas, it is a delight to visit, and offers a lot to be enjoyed and appreciated.

Villa Eirini, Calas Galadhon, February 2020

The villa is located on the Bay of Bel, part of the park’s extensive waterways, which extend from Eriador and Erebor in the west (and which are home to the Calas holiday settings at the end of each year, as well as being home to the stunning recreation of Santorini that made a return to Calas in 2019 – see The return of Calas’ Santorini in Second Life), to progress east and north to Long Lake (although they may not be fully navigable by boats due to the low bridges bordering the bay). This affords the villa extensive over-the-water views that – providing you can pump up the viewer draw distance sufficiently – offer stunning vistas from the villa and its immediate surroundings, with the view back to Santorini perfectly framing the architecture of the villa.

Sitting within low walled grounds, the villa is fully and delightfully furnished to offer a place where people can relax, chat and dance, either indoors or out on the terrace that looks eastwards to Santorini and the open-air events venue that sits on the far side of the bay with its flooded gardens and ancient ruins.

Villa Eirini, Calas Galadhon, February 2020

A flat table of rock rises immediately to the south side of the villa, coming close enough to almost touch it. With its top reached via spiral stair from the terrace and connecting walkway from the villa’s upper floor, it is home to a secluded and welcoming Zen garden constructed using Alex Bader’s excellent building set (which I’ve coincidentally used at Isla Pey – see Bringing a little (Studio Skye) Zen to your SL garden).

The eastern end of the villa’s island offers a small circle of sand and a causeway linking it to the fens of Belgaer, from which rises the equally welcoming Two Loons waterside café, another addition to the park Ty and Truck added in 2019 (see: The Two Loons in Second Life). The causeway actually forms part of the Calas riding trail, which skirts around the villa to continue north-east over a second causeway to reach the shores of Santorini, before doubling back north and west over natural rock arches across the waters of the bay to reach the headlands of Grey Havens and, beyond them, Armenelos and Long Lake.

Villa Eirini, Calas Galadhon February 2020

We first rode this trail back in 2017, just after it opened (see: A little (Bento) horse riding at Calas Galadhon in Second Life), and places like Santorini and now the Villa Eirnini make it an even more attractive and worthwhile ride today. While the trail does pass the villa, there doesn’t appear to be a horse rezzer close by, so those using the Calas horses to explore and who opt to dismount to spend time at the villa may have to continue their travels on foot.

If walking isn’t to your liking, a pier on the north side of the island offers a couple of boat rezzers. The first will, when touched, present you with a pontoon boat capable of carrying up to 6; the second (and by way of a colour picker dialogue) will present a 2-seat paddle boat. Note that the “driver” *must* select the seat farthest from the pier and sit first / stand last to avoid the boat being unexpectedly derezzed.

Villa Eirini, Calas Galadhon, February 2020

Boat niggles aside, Villa Eirini forms another superb addition to Calas Galadhon and makes for a perfect place in which to spend time and relax.

SLurl Details

All Calas Galadhon regions are rated Moderate.

On a Lakeside in Second Life

Lakeside, February 2020 – click any image for full side

Lakeside is an attractive and somewhat eclectic homestead region designed by Kimmy Sweetwater as a place for exploration and hanging out. The majority of the region is open to the public, but there are rentals to be found within the setting, so some care is needed to avoid invading privacy (or at least avoiding getting a security orb growling at you).

The region takes its name from the fact it is formed around a large lake, one with a central island complete with little holiday camp site. This limits the amount of landmass available to explore – but this doesn’t make the region any less interesting; rather the reverse: it requires a more creative use of the landmass that is still available., which in turn makes exploration more interesting.

Lakeside, February 2020

Visitors arriving at Lakeside are directed via landing point to the north side of the region and the waterside café located there. The landing point is guarded by an avatar mover that shifts arrivals away from it in order to prevent avatars landing one on top of / within one another. This helps prevent avatar stacking, but in this case the mover can randomly relocate the odd visitor into the bushes to one side of the trail running past the café.

Take this trail to the west, and it will lead you to a rocky dune that shelters a west-facing beach running the length of the region. Take the same trail eastwards, and it curls past a green hill overlooking the lake. Both the beach immediately beyond the dune and the top of the hill are home to five rentals units: two small cottages on the hilltop, three beach houses raised above the sand. I mention this because it is easy to miss the fact they are rentals, and get an annoyed security orb grumbling at you.

Lakeside, February 2020

Those wishing to reach the public beach to the west can do so in two ways: by scuttling past the beach houses or by following the edge of the lake to where a board walk points the way south, running past a small deck before climbing the spine of the hill to offer a way down to the beach, or onwards to where hills rise in the south-west corner of the region and extend along the southern side. The ridge line above the beach could perhaps do with a little more blending between mesh and terrain when seen from the lake, but while noticeable, it doesn’t massively interrupt the scenery.

The south-western uplands are home to a camp site amidst the trees and bushes crowning the hill, and to a hidden cavern reached via a single tunnel from the beach. This is home to a large club space, the far corner of which opens out to where a large deck area with seating has been built.

Lakeside, February 2020

The south side of the region is marked by further hills, which in part hide another rental property – easily avoided by following either of the two paths down the slopes and across the narrow tongue of water connecting the lake with the surrounding waters beyond the region. Rising once more on the east side of the region, the hills provide a open-air self-service weddings space (just pay the official L$500 to get started).

To the east, the land sits between southern and northern hills to form low-lying grasslands marked by what might at first appear to be another private cabin, but which is in fact open to the public, despite the surrounding fencing. This offers further places to sit, notably on the deck extending into the lake waters. Also to be found at the cabin is a Teagle horse rezzer for those who wish to ride around the region (those with their own wearable horses can obviously use them if they fancy a ride around the landscape). For those who want time on the water, there are rowing boats located at the various lakeside decks and offering places to sit, while the landing point café  has a bumper boat rezzer alongside its deck.

Lakeside, February 2020

Overall, a charming, easy-on the eye (and viewer) region, with a lot of opportunities for passing the time alone or with friends. Do note that as this is an adult region, nudity is permitted in places.

Note: the images here do not include the sim surround used with the region, due to issues with it rezzing / rendering.

SLurl Details

  • Lakeside (Roleplay Heaven, rated Adult)