Category Archives: Exploring Second Life

The song of Dawn’s Promise in Second Life

Dawn’s Promise by Marcus Inkpen and Sharni Azalee, Fantasy Faire 2017

We sit between the darkness and the light; between youth and age. Ours is a place of times past and times present; where the promise of that yet to be awaits.

Ours is a world of the crumbling and of the beauty of rebirth. We are eternal. Life’s energies flow through the waters of our realm, and the gift of renewal and creation float on the breeze. Our houses speak of the Old Times, the past, and the wisdom and grace of Age. The blossoms on our trees, the blooming of our flowers speak of present time and the vitality of rebirth, the richness of Life Anew.

Dawn’s Promise by Marcus Inkpen and Sharni Azalee, Fantasy Faire 2017

This realm offers all who seek it rest, respite and renewal. We ask naught in return. We do not demand adherence to rules or the invocation of arcane rights. We do not require you follow a mystic path or give obeisance to icons or gods. We ask only that you walk our grassy streets, and between the shadows of our homes and the light of the easterling Sun with open heart and mind; that you do not judge nor fret nor fear; that you simply Be.

We have been here since before others learnt to count the passing of Time; we will be here long after such counting has ceased. We will not always be visible to the world; we choose to make our presence known now, and for a brief span. But even when we can be no longer been seen, we will be here. Watching. Waiting. Our bridges will remain open to those who seek; the renewal of our waters are here for those who thirst. 

Dawn’s Promise by Marcus Inkpen and Sharni Azalee, Fantasy Faire 2017

Our streets, our paths our bridges, our homes. All are yours to explore. Peace as rest can be found throughout our lands, under bough, atop rock, and under dome. Drink from our waters; eat of our fruits; let our lamps light your way. 

There are those in the world who look to the West, to the setting of the Sun. They see the closing of a day as a time for reflection and endings. But we look to the East and the rising of the Sun; because Dawn is the time of Beginning, the time of Promise, when things are made new, and life opens fresh and bright, like the flower opens to greet the day’s new light.

We are the people of Dawn’s Promise, and we will take your lost and aged energies of the past and make them young again, as young as when the World was new. This is our Promise, our gift to the open of heart and mind.   

Dawn’s Promise by Marcus Inkpen and Sharni Azalee, Fantasy Faire 2017

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Of lepidopterans, owls, bugs and honey in Second Life

Butterfly Conservatory – click any image for full size

A little while ago now, I dropped in on the Butterfly Conservatory to grab a landmark with a view to a possible future blog post – and then promptly let it slip from my mind after filing it. Fortunately for me, there’s the weekly Destination Highlights, and the April 14th edition served as an aide-memoire, prompting me to suggested to Caitlyn we hop over and have a look around.

The work of Ry Heslop and Kacey Heslop (Kacey Delicioso), the Butterfly Conservatory occupies one half of a sky platform above their full region home, where it is located within a delightful garden suited to a range of viewer-side windlights.

From the landing point visitors can follow the footpaths around the garden, either going directly to the conservatory, or taking a more extended walk among the trees and flowers. Along the way they can learn about owls, discover some of Ry Heslop’s photography (offered for sale), find places to sit and enjoy the setting, visit a behind glass collections of bugs and delve into the world of bees and honey.

The gardens are nicely laid out, the meandering path giving a feeling of size beyond that of the space it occupies, with the various points of interest well spaced out along it. The latter helps prevent any feeling of having a wall of information thrown at you every few metres.The display of creepy-crawlies is nicely presented, each of the bugs in its own case; the models are understandably oversized so thy can be studied more easily. The bee display is also nicely laid out, with hives and flowers and bees industriously buzzing around.

Throughout all of this, little groups of butterflies can be found, circling plants and reminding us of the central theme of the gardens. The conservatory itself challenges visitors to find various families of butterfly among the plants within its walls. There are also information boards detailing the life cycle, anatomy and diet of the butterfly – although it would be nice to perhaps see a little more information on the individual families of butterfly represented.

A couple of other minor niggles also occurred. While having in-world display boards maintains a feeling of immersion, some might find them difficult to read. So providing an option for people to gain the info via note card might not go amiss. Also, while we’re warned that bees are endangered / critical to human life and challenged to help save them, we’re not told why (they are responsible for pollinating 70 of the 100 top crop species that feed 90% of the world) or how, thus the warning and challenge are diminished somewhat.

Even so, the Butterfly Conservatory makes for an enjoyable and informative visit. It presents a nicely relaxed environment  with plenty to see and appreciate. So, if you’re looking for something just that little bit different to visit and explore, we can recommend a visit.

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A different Saint Tropez in Second Life

The Incredible 4 – click any image for full size

Hear or read the words “Saint-Tropez”, and the chances are your thoughts will turn to the French Riviera, blue Mediterranean waters, yachts and sun-kissed bodies. While there is a beach at Saint Tropez in Second Life, it’s probably not the kind you’re going to want to spend time visiting for a spot of sunbathing; nor is the boat lying next to it the kind of vessel which adds sleek lines and glittering decks to the scene.

Here, however, is something entirely different. A region with a very coastal feel to it as well it is a life style away from its physical world namesake. While it may have a little beach of its own, this is no Mediterranean playground with gleaming yachts and golden sands promising sun-bronzed looks. Which is not to say it is any the less interesting to visit. Rather the reverse: Siant Tropez has a defined look and feel of its own which make it an interesting curio to visit.

The Incredible 4

The work of Sugar (Sugar Planer) and Lea (Lea Pienaar), together with Lindus Lyne, the region operates under the name of The Incredible 4, presumably on account of it being divided into four quarters, all of which flow together to give a feeling they are all part of the same stretch of coastline somewhere in the world. There is no set landing point; any visit via map or search will drop you pretty centrally in the region, so where you wander is pretty much up to you.

To the south-east sits Crossroads Bar, operated by Lindus Lynes. It’s the only part of the region sitting under its own parcel-based windlight setting, which casts in under a darkening twilight sky. A home for blues, blue rock, southern rock and rock, the bar offers both indoor and outdoor music venues. One of the latter sits just across the road, while the other is located a little further away, in the south-east corner of the region, which it shares with outdoor cuddle spots reached via an old wooden bridge.

The Incredible 4

Running across the northern side of the region, and reached via either a winding paved road or a dirt track (I recommend the latter when exploring the region for the first time), is a more urbanised area, albeit own of distinctly two halves. The the east is little town centre well past its prime, but attempting to put a brave face on things. Two gay little shops smile brightly at visitors along one of the streets, while along another houses with a distinctly Mediterranean look offer splashes of colour with their tiled roofs and blooming windows boxes. Even so, it’s hard not escape the feeling this is a place well past its prime – as testified by the row of empty houses to the north, and the uninspired bulk of old apartment houses to the south.

West of this thing become more open, the buildings seemingly fresher.  Two large town houses stand here, together with a little row of apparently thriving businesses. A great steam loco sits in a siding, looking like a local attraction designed to entice those passing through to stop and explore, rather than being a working engine. But even here, the signs of time passing cannot be entire ignored. Roads are closed, the beach is looking grubby – something not helped by the carcass of an old fishing boat lying half-sunken nearby.

The Incredible 4

Through all of this, the main road of the region winds, drawing everything together into a continuous whole. And you follow it around and through the region, the feeling is not so much of simply going in a circle around a square region, but you’re travelling along a stretch of coastline.

And just like a journey through and unknown land, The Incredible 4 offers a slice of the surprising. Follow the road back towards the Crossroads Bar and then turn right onto a woodland path before you get to the bar itself, and you be led to a little slice of Scandinavia. Here, on a rugged corner of coastline sit two houses, screened from the rest of the region by trees and rocky outcrops, the area comes as a rural retreat from the more urban feel of the rest, and coming across it is like arriving at the unexpected while on a long road-trip.

The Incredible 4

And this is the defining beauty of The Incredible 4 / Saint Tropez. Yes, a large part of the region might sound run-down and a little dreary, but it actually has a genuine beauty of its own. The meandering road, the footpaths and trails all serve to bring the various aspects of the region together as a living whole. It makes for an intriguing exploration, particularly given the various opportunities for back-story narrative which present themselves (just what is the town house in the north-west corner of the region all about?). As such, you might well be pleasantly surprised by a visit, as Caitlyn and I were.

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Maison de L’amitie in Second Life

Maison de L’amitie – click any image for full size

I first visited Maison de L’amitie a year ago in April 2016. For reasons that escape me, I never actually blogged about it. So a suggestion from Shakespeare that Caitlyn and I should head on over came as a timely reminder.

As I recall (with the aid of photos taken at the time), a year ago Maison de L’amitie presented a rural scene with windmills, vines and lots of green. A year on and the region – designed by Corina Wonder with help from  Lan Erin – now presents a seafront environment which, although surrounded on all four sides by water, suggests that the land should actually continue to the south-east, where it otherwise falls sharply into the sea.

Maison de L’amitie

It is a place evocative of sea-side vacation destinations; much of the region is given over to water to form a natural bay which reflects a golden-hued sky. Sand bars to the south and west protect the bay on two sides. These form two broad, low beaches, the one to the south adjoining a sharp upthrust of land against which a little village sits. Running before this, and separating it from a sandy waterfront, is a wide road overlooking a line of rowing boats moored just off-shore, watched over by cormorants, gulls and a pelican.

The little hamlet – has a decidedly Mediterranean look to it: whitewashed walls fading from the effects of the sun and air doubtless heavy with sea-salt, sitting under red-tiled roofs. The houses and villa occupy a set of terraces stepping up the hill, a broad stone stairway dissecting them. On the lowest tier, at the roadside, sits a cosy-looking villa hotel. above and behind it are more houses – perhaps chalet-style accommodation for the guest of the hotel. The uppermost terrace is the home of a small chapel and the remnants of other buildings, their broken walls adding a certain charm to the island while suggesting a history lies here awaiting discovery.

Maison de L’amitie

Down on the waterfront, the road crosses the water via the triple arches of a sturdy stone bridge to arrive at a grand château. Sitting amidst tidy lawns with trim yew bushes on parade either side of the wide footpath lading up to it, the château appears to have been converted into a ballet school, and offers a commanding view out over the bay from this windows and from its well-tended lawns.

And out on the bay, boats lie at anchor, two single-masted sailing boats, a motor-cruiser, a fishing boats and – a commanding presence among all of them – a three-masted corvette. This sits with sails furled, far enough out to suggest it is standing guard over the bay and the little hamlet. Another protector can be found at the end of the western sand bar, looking out towards the corvette, warding boats away from the risk of running aground.

Maison de L’amitie

Maison de L’amitie is a place for meandering, unhurried exploration. The beaches offer  space to walk on golden sand, coupled with little snuggle points on  or under old rowing boats or on blankets just above the edge of the tide. A little book store between beach and village presents a place for browsing, while a short walk beyond it and around the headland, the broken finger of an old lighthouse lies forlornly at the foot of the hill against which the village has been built. Elsewhere lies a chance to see inside the workshop of a craftsman who makes surf boards, and everywhere are opportunities for photographs.

For those who wish to rez props for use with photos, a land group is available to join – either accept via the greeter at the landing point or step into the reception at the hotel, where you can touch the visitor counter up on the gallery overlooking the reception desk, and join the group. Should you enjoy your visit, please consider a donation towards the continued upkeep of the region for others to enjoy.

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