More about a Green Story in Second Life

Green Story, September 2022 – click any image for full size

I hadn’t realised that it’s been four years since my first visit to Green Story, the Homestead region held and designed by Dior Canis. Indeed, it might have been even longer before I hopped back to have another look, but for a poke from Shawn Shakespeare; admittedly, that poke was given to me at the end of June 2022, so even now I’m being a little tardy in just getting around to a visit and an article, given October is now peeking over the horizon at us!

At the time of hat visit, which I wrote about in Stories and memories in Green Second Life, the region was very much a place of two halves, one in the sky and one on the ground, and both equally attractive, and which offered a continuity of theme and expression, one to the other.

Green Story, September 2022: “catch a falling star”

So far as I can tell now, Green Story exists in its current iteration as a ground-level build only; I certainly didn’t note any suggestion of a teleport to a sky platform – so if I did miss it, my apologies.  Both the 2018 iteration of Green Story and this are joined, however, by the fact that whilst each has its own landscape, neither is what might be said to be  contiguous location; rather, each exists to offer a series of locations – or vignettes, depending on how they are being utilised – scattered within a landscape which helps to link them as places to be found and appreciated.

In its form at the time of writing this piece for example, the landing point sits on a winding track running towards (or away from, depending on your point-of view), a little railway stations which has perhaps seen better days. Rain falls from a star-filled sky cut through with the ribbon of the Milky Way, and the shadowed forms of the station buildings, their mix of warm yellow lights and bright white platform illumination reflecting of banks of mist, beckon the new arrival with the promise of a warm reprieve from the downpour.

Green Story, September 2022: “the inner light”

This station is a strange hodgepodge of buildings platforms, music store, café, waiting room, and so on, which look as though they have all come together to huddle against the rain rather than being built with intent, a single rail car hunched at the end of one of the lines and suffering the rain in silence. The very oddness of the station buildings – which includes a very cosy artist’s studio floating above the rest as if daring gravity to say something – givens them a unique attractiveness which further draws visitors to them.

Travelling the other way along the track from the station takes the visitor past a little telephone booth before the trail peters on on a shoulder of the hills descending from the south and west to meet the north-facing coast, the course of the trail marked only by the march of a line of street lamps beyond where the trail’s guiding fences end.

Green Story, September 2022: “catspaw”

Further travel from here is either a case of climbing the rough slope of the hill or descending it towards the waiting shore. The way upwards can lead one to where the skeletal form of a cabin occupies an out-thrust of rock. Looking to be only partially complete (and a neat combining of builds by Wendy Keno and Cory Edo), the cabin is nevertheless cosily furnished and offers a comfortable retreat from the weather with an uninterrupted sea view. The path down, meanwhile, offers the way to where a deck sits over the water. Reached via stepping stone, it offers a view to the brilliant arc of the Milky Way as it rises from the north-east to arch over the region in a swathe of starry colour. Also visible from this deck is a little boat sitting far out on the water and laden with pillows and blankets as a further retreat  for visitors to partake.

And therein lines the raison d’être for this design: not s much as a place to be explored in the traditional sense, but as a place where people can come, relax, share (intimately, if they wish, given much of the furniture scattered around includes cuddles / adult poses), take photos of themselves within the various vignettes – art studio, cabin, deck, telephone booth and so on (several more await discovery as one wanders) – or simply remember or lose oneself in thought.

Green Story, September 2022

In this latter point, it doesn’t matter that the art studio floats over the back of the station buildings or a single window frame is suspended alone on a hill slope; what matters is how the mind, the eye and / or the camera opt to use the locations within this region, be it for expression or escape.

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A little Regency in Second Life

Vue Sur Mer, September 2022 – click any image for full size

Pleasure Ò Raigàin (vVEdanaVv) is one of the creative minds (and chief builder) behind Carrowmere, a Homestead region I visited with great delight back at the start of 2022 (see: A trip to an Irish corner of Second Life). Whilst that region is still active in Second Life, Pleasure has turned her mind to other projects as well, and recently invited me to pay a visit to Vue Sur Mer, a new parcel build she has opened to the public.

Occupying just 4096 square metres, this is one of those landscaping designs I tend to like because it demonstrates the fact that people don’t actually need a full-sized region (Homestead or otherwise) to create something special for themselves or which can be shared with others as a public space. Sitting within the north-east corner of its parent region (hence the reason for the parcel’s name), this is a parcel with a very distinct and cosily engaging theme, offering as it does a slice of Regency England in reflection of the US TV series Bridgerton.

Vue Sur Mer, September 2022

I confess to knowing next to nothing about the television series – I’m actually not a great fan of period dramas for assorted reasons; but that hardly matters here. Whether or not you are familiar with the show – or indeed Regency England – Vue Sur Mer offers an enticing and romantic corner of Second Life that is highly photogenic and easy to appreciate.

Whilst formally regarded at the period 1811 to 1820, when by Act of Parliament, George, Prince of Wales became Prince Regent as a result of his father’s (George III) worsening mental health and ending when the Prince ascended to the throne as George IV, the Regency period can more broadly be regarded as the final third of the Georgian era, spanning the years 1795 through 1837. It was a time of sharp social divide within the United Kingdom between the haves and the have nots, with the former enjoying a period of cultural and social growth (aided by Romanticism straddling the era and the early Victorian period), and seemingly oblivious (or uncaring) about the hardship faced by the labourers of the country.

Vue Sur Mer, September 2022

In its celebration of the period as seen through the likes of Bridgerton, Vue Sur Mer quite marvellously captures the grace and beauty that lay within the houses and gardens of the well-off. This is a setting where, to draw further on the period) Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet would find little amiss.

Presented as semi-formal garden environment in which is located a small summer house and even smaller pavilion, both constructed of neatly cut and squared white stone, it is not hard to imagine Vue Sur Mer as a places tucked away within the wildlings beyond the more formal gardens of a grand estate, a place where the romantically-inclined can slip away to for courtship conversations, unobtrusively observed by footmen; or which the estate owners might host a young artist or musician or poet, thus earning themselves further social kudos.

Vue Sur Mer, September 2022

Behind the summer house sits a shaded pond where courting couples might sit or a poet seek his (or her!) muse under the natural arch of two bent trees, this time watched over by Andromeda and Perseus. To the side of the house tea might be taken under a beflowered gazebo set over a carpet of pale blooms, the discussion perhaps revolving around Ms. Austen’s writings, given the books perched on the table. Nearby, the pavilion sits purely as a retreat for the menfolk, being set out with a range of brandy and whiskey bottles which share their table with a box of cigars.

Between pavilion and gazebo lie stone steps rising under a stone arch to reach a wildling garden protected by a snowy owl; a place where a budding painter might decide to set their easel should they tire of the confines within the little greenhouse on the far side of the little beach, converted as it is as a tiny art studio.

Vue Sur Mer, September 2022

Compact yet packed with detail (I’ve not really mentioned the care with with Pleasure has set the décor and furnishings within the house), and finished with a gentle soundscape, Vue Sur Mer is a veritable painting in its own right. And I leave it to you to decide whether or not to do so in period attire!

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Autumn at Mousehole in Second Life

Mousehole, September 2022 – click any image for full size

It’s been over a year since my first (and until now, only) visit to Mousehole, the second of Tolla Crisp’s regions to carry her Cornish theme (mixed with broader flavours from Europe). That visit, in June 2021 (see:  A corner of Cornwall in Second Life), was made notlong after the region had opened,  and saw it feature elements inspired by the ancient Cornish fishing village of Mousehole (pronounced mzəl, or Porthenys in Cornish) – at one time one of the busiest fishing ports, far down towards the very tip of England’s “toe”, on the southern coast of Cornwall.

At  the time of that visit,  Mousehole directly abutted Tolla’s Frogmore (now in its 5th iteration); however, time has passed and now Frogmore Cottage – a region given over mostly to rentals but with public paths winding through it – sits between the two.

Mousehole, September 2022

Now sitting within a Homestead region, Mousehole has perhaps lost its more recognisable links to its physical world namesake – but in doing so it has lost none of its charm or beauty. Built by Dandy Warhlol (Terry Fotherington), in keeping with past builds for both Mousehole and Frogmore – and doubtless with a lot of input from Tolla – the region now presents itself as mix of small, rugged islands of the kind that might be found around the Cornish and Devonshire coasts, and flooded lowlands.

The landing point sits on the main landmass for the region, a squat island marked by a shale shoreline to the south from which rises an impressive rock formation which, from some angles at least, is perhaps mindful of a seal or sea lion sitting on the shore, head raised to the sky. The rest of the island points north from here, taking first the form of a flat-topped shoulder of cliffs before dropping down to lowlands where sits a tiny hamlet.  Far smaller than Mousehole, this  nevertheless recalls both the village and the June 2021 build thanks to the sign from the old pub hanging on the wall of what might have once been a fisherman’s house, but which now looks deserted.

Mousehole, September 2022

This little hamlet, with its mix of houses that suggests both English and European influences, sits with a small harbour facing north and east towards the two Frogrmore regions.However, it is separated from them be a low-lying island which both shelters its moorings and is home to one of the region’s two large sandy beaches – the other sitting under the “sea lion rock” and the table-top cliffs of the main island.

Three further isles help complete this little archipelago.  Two sit side-by-side astride a narrow channel to the north of the main island. Linked be a wooden bridge spanning the separating gorge, they are repectively the home of a smattering of further houses and buildings, and a single little pavilion.

Mousehole, September 2022

Westwards sits a rugged blob of an island, its flat top home to ancient ruins  whilst carrying a hint of Cornish moorlands even whilst a tall white lighthouse rises from their southern extent. Little bridges connect these latter isles to the hamlet, presetting the means for visitors to explore all of them on foot, despite the swirling waters churning the channels between them.

Throughout all of this there is, as one would expect, a wealth of detail both on land and on the water. In the case of the latter and despite the visible turbulence of white-capped foam suggesting shallows and rocks beneath, it is clear that the channels separating the islands are an important part of life here. Rowing boats are moored throughout, and Dandy has made clever use of a farmhouse design to incorporate water and moorings neatly into its layout, the overall design of the house offering that twist of European influence mentioned earlier without making with house feel out-of-place in this setting.

Mousehole, September 2022

Those wishing to reach the Frogmore regions – or get to Mousehole from them – can do so via low wooden bridges which connect with a rocky spine rising from between Mousehole and Frogmore Cottage (and indeed, straddling the two regions). When coming from Frogmore Cottage, this slender island, windswept and battered by the tide, offers a warm greeting, a small cafe and a familiar sight across Cornwall in the form of hardy little ponies.

As always with Mousehole / Frogmore there are many opportunities for photography here, and the default EEP setting does much to help reinforce the idea that this is a part of Cornwall which is saying “goodbye” to summer skies and sunny days, and preparing itself for the arrival of the harsher days of winter. Well worth a visit.

Mousehole, September 2022

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The romance of Cap Thunderbird in Second Life

Cap Thunderbird, September 2022 – click any image for full size

Occupying a Full private region utilising the LI bonus, Cap Thunderbird is held by Buzz Thunderbird (BuzzFlashMcQueen) and offered as a public setting for all who wish to visit. It is a location of two distinct halves, separated by a high curtain of cliffs cutting almost completely across the region from west to east, but each half nevertheless equally accessible to the other, and both fully open to visitors to appreciate and explore.

The main landing point sits within the southern half of the region, which has been designed by Buzz as a wedding venue and parklands. Whlist the wedding setting offers plenty to see, it is northern part of the region on which I wish to focus. This can be reached by teleporting over the cliffs – there is no hard-and-fast landing point – or by crossing the bridge from the main landing point and then heading west, past the wedding pavilion before re-crossing the stream and following the path under the stone arches and around the western feet of the cliffs.

Cap Thunderbird, September 2022

This northern part of the region is presented as a romantic park with something of a water theme. It is rich in detail and – for me at least – somewhat mindful in part of places such as Yorkshire’s Fountains Abbey (even though there is no direct similarity), thanks to the large ruins sitting along the west side of the region. Built using elements from The Chapel Ruins from The Looking Glass (and a personal favourite of mine, having frequently adorned my island home).

Buzz’s build makes good use of elements from the Chapel, allowing an extensive structure to be put togethe without any sense of repetition. It sits before a body of water cutting into the landscape, the drowned pillar and walls of more ruins (also re-uses of the TLG Chapel Ruins) rising above the waves as if gasping for air.

Cap Thunderbird, September 2022

Nor is the abbey the only gathering of ruins; across the waters of the inlet and over the grasslands to the east sits a further ruin. Its thick walls suggest it may have once served a defensive purpose – although the wide window bays say otherwise, as do the buttresses that still support parts of its remaining walls, both speaking to this having also been a religious building. These ruins are abutted by the remnants of a water mill. Of wooden construction, it stands roofless but with wheel intact and steadfastly turning in opposition to the waters of the stream passing below.

Offering a step-by-step description of what to see / where to go isn’t really useful here, given teleports within the region are so open – but there are various points of interest that should be noted. The first is that the main landing point can furbish visitors with a teleport HUD.

Cap Thunderbird, September 2022 – wedding venue

Whilst somewhat on the large size, given its functionality, the latter allows visitors to hop to a number of points of interest in the region, including the Hidden Gardens and the Underwater setting, located beneath the waters of the inlet. A further location available via the HUD and also directly via a board at the region’s main landing point, is Desolation, a small diorama sitting in the sky.

Birds and waterfowl have clearly made this park their home and can be found throughout, whilst deer roam the grasslands. Across the landscape lie pools and lakes of flowers adding broad swathes of colour to the setting, some of them caught in the shimmering fall of beams of light.

Cap Thunderbird, September 2022

The latter fall from a sky which (together with some of the wildlife) betray this place as not being a part of England’s northern counties, but somewhere otherworldly. Cloud-like in form, this sky is cut by an arc of brilliant white, whilst beneath the cloudly backdrop hang sparking points of light, perhaps stars set againts the cloudy grey of a nebula, whilst as the time passes, so the arcs of Moons (or other planets) can at time be seen.

Those wishing to explore this land via other means than using their pedal extremities can do so using the teleport HUD already mentioned, or by using the little motorboat to putter around the waters, or partake of a flying bubble available from the rezzer hidden amongst the trees, or via a sedate ride in a hot air balloon. The latter two offer the means to hop up and over the cliffs separating the two sides of the region, thus offering an alternate means of exploring both.

Cap Thunderbird, September 2022

With multiple places to sit and relax, and finished with a suitable soundscape, Cap Thunderbird offers a relaxed and romantic setting with multiple opportunities for photography and – of course- an engaging wedding venue. My thanks (as ever!) to Shawn Shakespeare for the landmark!

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The caves and caverns of Rosehaven in Second Life

Clair View Ruins and caves, The Realm of Rosehaven, September 2022 – click any image for full size

The Realm of Rosehaven  (operated by SelenaAnansi and Serra Anansi) is one of the oldest fantasy / medieval themed residential and role-play communities in Second Life. Totalling 15 regions, it offers a rich mix of private and public spaces, it is a place with much to see and discover; a place that can be called home by those with a focus on fantasy.

We offer you a place to hang your hat, rest your feet, and let the stress of the outside world fade away in a fantasy British Isles styled setting.  Architecture and themes are inspired by fairy tales, lore, myths, and possibly your dreams.  Medieval and fantasy clothing is welcomed and encouraged; however, there is no set dress code.
Rosehaven is a land of magic and dreams – the living embodiment of imagination and creativity, where humans, elves, fae, shapeshifters, and other creatures can peacefully coexist among the mist-covered lands.

– From the Realm of Rosehaven website

Clair View Ruins and caves, The Realm of Rosehaven, September 2022

I was drawn to the estate after learning about the extensive network of caves, caverns, tunnels and places of mystery and magic which offer the Second Life explorer much to see and – well, explore.

This is a network with many points of entry (and exit!), which exists underground, under the sea and in the air, the various elements linked by an experience which allows for relatively seamless teleport movement between locales. Given the multiple points of entry, how and where a traveller may come by the system is a part of the fun of discovery; it might be a case of noticing a shadowed archway between houses and then walking through it, or finding a ladder leading down into the bowels of the earth from the basement of a public building, or even the ornate doors at the foot of a cliff which open at the touch of a hand rather than the utterance of “Mellon!

Clair View Ruins and caves, The Realm of Rosehaven

For the purposes of my explorations, I opted to go the easy way – via the entrance below the Temple of the Oracle at Clair View Ruins (designed by designed by Snow Kelley). Step through the stained glass of the portal, and your voyage begins at the Cavern of Inner Wisdom; pay attention to local chat for a clue on how to proceed – but before you do move onwards, take the time to explore the halls built within the cavern. And when you are ready to travel onwards, don’t be fooled when confronted by an apparent blank face of rock after following the Cavern’s whispered instructions.

Beyond this first cavern lies an underground fortification, a place of hewn and shaped stone walls, where broad stairways of wood and stone connect different levels and long halls and shadowed arches hint at further destinations. Designed and built by Talus Ravenheart, it sits as a kind of hub with multiple opportunities of onwards exploration. But again, before stepping through any of the archways, take a moment to explore the passages also offered, because again there are places here to be discovered: catacombs with the memory of one passed, a broken wall leading to natural caves beyond which in turn lead to further secrets and spaces awaiting discovery.

Clair View Ruins and caves, The Realm of Rosehaven, September 2022

Such is the nature of this “hub” (for want of a better term), that describing what might come next is impossible, thanks to the multiplicity of options for onward travel available. And even if there were a proscribed route, providing a blow-by blow description of what might be found would spoil the experience of exploring the cave and caverns for yourself. Suffice it to say that as you select arches and routes and shaded tunnels, so might you find yourself in the abode of a practitioner of magic or the hideaway of pirates or tunnels adorned with crystals, leading the way to elven halls – or more besides; each one designed by one or more of the residents of Rosehaven, and thus given an individual flavour.

Along the way it is possible to come across interactive elements in various places and rooms as well – so should you find yourself in, say, a cellar where grapes are pressed into wine (to name but one) – be sure to mouse-over anything that looks like it might not actually fit with the rest of the room / cavern. Also, given that any route might lead you to an alley or dungeon or gateway or stairs leading to the world beyond the caves, the tunnels offer a unique means for discovering and exploring public spaces within the broader Realm; just remember that teleports into the network may not always be a portal or hidden in shadow; some might lie behind an innocent-looking door…

Clair View Ruins and caves, The Realm of Rosehaven, September 2022

Whether used for exploration or for role-lay, the caves of Rosehaven add a further dimension to this engaging community, and are more than worth a visit.

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Autumn at Sainte Rose sur Mer in Second Life

Sainte Rose sur Mer, September 2022 – click any image for full size

On the advice of the Destination Guide – and also to give Firestorm 6.6.3 with the Lab’s Performance Improvements something of an exercise, I hopped over to Sainte Rose sur Mer. This is the 21,000+ square metre parcel designed and held by Dandy Warhlol (terry Fotherington) occupying most of the eastern aspect of a Full private region that has the additional Land Capacity bonus available for use by those renting there, and which I last visited in December 2021.

At the time of that visit I noted that Sainte Rose sur Mer presented “a refreshing break from the current round of winter-themed regions by presenting visitors with a little corner of Mediterranean France with a beach to the southern aspect … and a coastal, almost rustic corner of a town … that offers little walks and corners to explore”.

Sainte Rose sur Mer, September 2022

This is still very much the case with the updated design for the setting, which sits now dressed for the autumnal season. within it, there is much that echoes the look and feel of the former design in terms of architecture and layout, something that gives an overall sense that this is a further, and previously unseen, part of that little town Dandy first revealed to us in late 2021.

The landing point is located towards the south-east corner of the build, at a point where a small cobbled square opens to one side to overlook what might have once been a natural cove, but which has been built up over the years such that it now sits as a home to little wharves and a tiny, trapped shingle beach. Facing this overlook from the opposite side of the cobbles is one of the entrances to the BarDeco club.

Sainte Rose sur Mer, September 2022

Always a staple of Dandy’s personal builds, BarDeco here retains its open-air look and feel, sitting within a large courtyard area now bounded on all sides by buildings and high walls. It has an attractive, ramshackle look to it which is always instantly engaging – a hallmark of the BarDeco designs over the years -, the broken floors of the upper level suggesting that at least part of the area occupied by the club might have once been roofed over, although what it may have housed if so is entirely a matter for the imagination.

Bracketing the club to either side are two south-north thoroughfares which between them offer routes of exploration. The first of these, which includes the cobbled landing point, connects the southern beach and the tall form of houses, hotels and beachfront places of business overlooking it, with a small “residential” area (not rentals, just a grouping of publicly-accessible houses) at the northern end of the setting. In doing so, it passes through a cosy street of little businesses and tall townhouses, arched gateways and tunnels denoting the limits of their influence.

Sainte Rose sur Mer, September 2022

Along this street are reminders of the prior iteration of Sainte Rose sur Mer I visited in December 2021 – the steps gently connecting the different levels of the town, the gateways, the little stone bridge (now rubbing shoulders with building either side of it) which now takes the street down to the narrow little Rue du Petit Pont. This narrow street runs behind the local hotel and parallel to the beach before opening out into an fountained square which in turn links to the raised waterfront and the beach beyond.

Steps on the far side of this square rise up to another terrace, also with its own fountain.  Backed by local residences, it has clearly been laid claim to by cats, birds and children. Steps on the same side as those leading up to it, but without any gated access, drop back down to provide access to the second of the north-south thoroughfares.

Sainte Rose sur Mer, September 2022

This second route is more informal in nature, being marked not by cobbles but by gravel pools and paths which both sit alongside two further entrances to BarDeco and  also meander northwards past gazebos and trees and over bubbling streams to reach a stone and steel framed greenhouse. Imposing is size and form, this greenhouse carries an air of having once been a proud garden feature, complete with its own clock marking the passage of time; now sits in the midst of a wildling garden, apparently now the house of occasional piano recitals.

Both garden and pond – which has a large deck extending over its southern side from the bank just below the greenhouse – offer a picturesque view over to the gardens of the houses at the northern end of the setting. The latter can actually be reached by means of a little bridge and rock path which skirt around the west side of the water to pass by way of an old gatehouse tower. At the houses, an overgrown alley running between two of them leads visitors back to the cobbled “main” street, thus allowing them to literally circumnavigate the entire setting from landing point back to landing point.

Sainte Rose sur Mer, September 2022

As is the way with Dandy’s build, there is a richness of details to be found here throughout, and there are a lot of nooks and crannies and little side passages and alleys to be exploring I haven’t touched upon in this piece.

Normally, the high level of attention to detail can lead to hits on viewer FPS. While this is still the case in places with this build, thanks to LL’s performance improvements, I found I needed to jiggle with settings a lot less than has often been the case when dropping into Dandy’s builds (although I did have to derender a lot of the mesh rain sheets, as these have always been a bane to my PC).

Sainte Rose sur Mer, September 2022

Picturesque, rich in the use of local sounds and with much to see appreciate and photograph, Sainte Rose sur Mer remains an engaging destination.

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