Category Archives: Exploring Second Life

Costa Blanco in Second Life

Costa Blanco, Costa Blanco; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Costa Blanco – click any image for full size

Caitlyn and I first visited Costa Blanco in January 2017, but I didn’t get to blog about it at the time, so a re-visit seemed in order.

Designed by Gabrian Lascelles (Gothicgaylord), the region is described as “situated in the southernmost province of Sweden, and is connected by weather and theme with Bretagne in France.” It’s an interesting description, and the general environment for the region has much of a feel of being suited to either southern Sweden or Bretagne (or even here in the UK!). However, the design of the region throws in multiple elements – a Mediterranean style villa by the landing point, for example – such that Costa Blanco has an eclectic feel to it which makes exploring interesting and offers many opportunities for photography.

Costa Blanco, Costa Blanco; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Costa Blanco

The aforementioned landing point is in the north-west part of the region, directly outside of the villa. Grapes are growing on the vine here, as a cobbled drive leads down the slope of a low hill to where a scattering of farm outhouses and barns sit. Some of these have clearly seen better days, as their boarded windows and doorways can attest, while the tractors sitting in and around them also speak of age and hard-working lives. Given the way the hay is baled, it would seem this is still a working farm, but the overall impression is that the focus is now more on providing stables for horses, than working the land.

Costa Blanco, Costa Blanco; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Costa Blanco

Dirt tracks run around and through the farm, offering multiple choices for wandering. To the south, a single track runs along a finger of land pointing eastwards. At the end of this sits another old outhouse in which sits a little display of photographs captured in the physical world. This tumbledown galley shares the headland with an old barn and a cosy little cove, around which places to sit and snuggle can be found, some of many to be found throughout the region.

A sandy beach sweeps  down the eastern shoreline of the land from the north, and out onto the slender headland, giving the impression that this is a stretch of coastline facing east, looking out to where a smaller island sits. Reached via a little motor boat available from a beach-side pier, this rocky island offers a little retreat, complete with summer-house,  and a look-out point in the form of the disintegrating wreck of a boat made fast against the rocks. As the motor boat poofs when you leave it, getting back the mainland appears to be a case of flying or of teleporting back to the landing point.

Costa Blanco, Costa Blanco; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Costa Blanco

Given the number of cuddle spots here – we particularly enjoyed the secluded hot spa – Costa Blanco is ideal for romantics. Those seeking more active pursuits can ride the region’s horses while photographers can have a field day with the setting as a whole. There is something about the air of age and general shabbiness present in the buildings, coupled with the natural unkempt nature of the trees, grass and bushes which make Costa Blanco an eye-catching visit.

Costa Blanco, Costa Blanco; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Costa Blanco

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Summer at Crystal Garden Estates in Second Life

Crystal Garden Estates, Quararibea Cordata Island; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Crystal Garden Estates – click any image for full size

Crystal Garden Estates is another semi-regular stop-over for me on my rounds of the grid. Designed by Sandi (Sandi Benelli) and her partner Mikal Beaumont, this Homestead region undergoes semi-regular makeovers by Sandi and Mikal, with each offering a new place to visit.

The last time I blogged the region, in July 2015, it had a Mediterranean look and feel, with berths for power and sailing boats all under a summer’s sky. However, as that was a good while ago, I was curious to see how things looked as we make our towards summer 2017; so Caitlyn and I recently hopped over for a look, coincidentally bumping into Sandi and Mikal as we arrived, just as they were tweaking one or two things before heading off to enjoy some in-world music.

Crystal Garden Estates, Quararibea Cordata Island; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Crystal Garden Estates

While the summer feel to the region, and the boat moorings are still evident, this latest iteration of Crystal Gardens Estates offers the look and feel of a more temperate zone this time around. The land has been divided into three large islands, running north-to-south, with a smaller, rounded island to the north-west, while a lighthouse-laden rocky outcrop completed the group. Separated one from the next by narrow channels of water, the three largest islands offer a collective landscape of tall trees, summer walks among sprays of flowers, and many places both indoors and out, where visitors can pass the time.

A visit begins on the west side of the island, on a wooden dock where two boats are berthed. A canvas-sided pergola sits at one end of the dock, offering a place to relax, while close by sits a comfortable little house built on stilts to extend out over the water from a rocky base. Beyond this, the island’s rocky southern headland offers a look-out point with a view of the offshore lighthouse. With a kid’s play tent ( a blanket spread over a line between two trees), dogs playing on the course grass and the waterside spots for taking things easy, this has the feel of being a holiday getaway, rather than a place of year-round abode.

Crystal Garden Estates, Quararibea Cordata Island; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Crystal Garden Estates

Another house, more substantial in size, sits to the north, close to where a bridge reaches out to the middle of the three islands. Also raised up on a stout deck, the house looks out over the curve of a  sandy beach, the boards stacked against its whitewashed wall suggesting it might be the holiday home for keen surfers.

Across the bridge, the middle of the three islands is home to a third cottage, which shares its waterside location with a trio of summer huts. A loose-laid board walk meanders southwards from the cottage passing a barn converted into a bar to one side and an octagonal pergola to the other, before arriving at another beach. Two bridges span the watery divide between this and the easternmost island. This has a slightly wilder feel to it, with tall pines under which a camp site sits and deer, foxes and wolves roam, while the rocky sweep of the northern shore is crossed by a raised wooden walk.

Crystal Garden Estates, Quararibea Cordata Island; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Crystal Garden Estates

The entire feel of these islands is that of a secret vacation spot; a place those in the know can slip away to and spend time forgetting about work and the rest of the world. This impression is heightened by the last of the islands in the group. Circular in form, its shape suggests a small crater with a partially flooded. More wooden walkways occupy this little spot, running around the basin and raised on stilts above the water, or straddling the rim. They link together a small cluster of thatched roof pergolas where visitors can relax, chat, dance or wander under ivy weaved trestles.

I’ve always enjoyed my visits to Crystal Garden Estates, and this latest one was no exception. The little archipelago offers much without in any way being overdone. There is plenty of room to wander, many places to sit and relax, both indoors and out; there are horses to ride and snuggles spots for cosier times with a loved one. For those so inclined, there’s even a drinking game to be found in the bar!

Crystal Garden Estates, Quararibea Cordata Island; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Crystal Garden Estates

Rich in natural colour thanks to the considered use of wild flowers, and set beneath and dusky sky, the region is genuinely photogenic and very much an ideal visit.

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Furillen City in Second Life

The Mill, Pale Moonlight; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Furillen, Pandora Empire – click any image for full size

Furillen, the atmospheric region designed by Serene Footman, has a new home in the full region of Pandora Empire. With the move comes another new design, one which sits both on the ground and up in the air over the region.

The ground level continues to reflect Furillen’s origins: an island off the north-east coast of Gotland, Sweden. In doing so, it retains the same misted, desolate beauty of previous builds, complete with a shell of the limestone factory and the hotel which now occupies the physical world island. However, with this iteration of the design, the factory footprint has been reduced and the hotel has a new, more homely look and feel.

The Mill, Pale Moonlight; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Furillen, Pandora Empire

Further afield can be found other reminders of the original Furillen build: the crane over the water, the hoppers, the caravan. But so to are there new places to explore, such as the fishing village in the north-east corner of the region or the club close to the old factory tower. These aspects, old and new, combine to offer a familiar but new look to the island which encourages fresh exploration.

But it is in the sky where things get even more interesting. A teleport disk near the landing point offers access, and the names of some of the destinations – penguin, joker, catwoman, riddler, batcave – offer hints as to what awaits visitors when teleporting, although I recommend that on a first visit, you head from somewhere like the square, as this will allow you to experience things more fully, delivering you to a town square.

The Mill, Pale Moonlight; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Furillen, Pandora Empire

Seen under the same region windlight as the rest of the region, this cityscape also works under a range of daytime and night-time settings. In case you hadn’t already worked it out from the destination names above, this urban environment is a homage to Batman, from the comics, through the 1960s TV series to the more films of Keaton, Kilmer and Bale et al. However, it is not a homage that should perhaps be taken too seriously, as some of the visuals clues seem to suggest (such as the The Dork Knight club).

That said, the attention to detail is impressive, and fans of Batman will find a visit a treat, with plenty of nods to the entire franchise from familiar names such as Sionis Industries, Arkham Asylum and the Gotham Gazette.  Nor is this just a surface homage; follow the teleport disk around and there is plenty more to find from the Batcave (complete with the different generations of Batmobile), to the underground lair of the Penguin, to the more homely setting of Selena Kyle’s apartment.

The Mill, Pale Moonlight; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Furillen, Pandora Empire

And that’s just the start of things – but to reveal everything would be to spoil the surprise of discovery. This is a place which deserves time and exploration, and not just by teleport disk. Look closely enough, and there are secret ways to be found: tunnels and passages, all of which connect street level to a network of underground locations.

I’ve always enjoyed my visits to Furillen; each iteration – from the initial build, through the homage to Pink Floyd, to the reinterpretation of La Digue du Braek – Serene Footman has always offered unique and intriguing builds for people to visit. In its new home, and in this form, Furillen continues to do just that. When visiting, keep an eye out for the art gallery and consider joining the region’s group for information on events, and also check Furillen’s own website for news and updates.

The Mill, Pale Moonlight; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Furillen, Pandora Empire

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Kubrick and Wells in Second Life

I was recently alerted to a couple of small exhibitions in Second Life with could be of interest to lovers of film and of science fiction: The Kubrick Rooms and the Wells Exhibit.

The Kubrick Rooms are the work of Rumpledink Robbiani. As the name suggests, this is something of a homage to legendary film-maker Stanley Kubrick. First opened in 2008 and available to visitors for a year thereafter, the rooms have been in limbo since then. However, Rumpledink’s friends encouraged him to bring them back in-world and he notes that this time, he hopes the money received in donations and from sales will help keep it around for longer.

Rooms is neatly designed around three of Kubrick’s most notable films: The Shining, 2001 A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange, with The Shining taking overall centre stage by providing the setting. Visitors arrive at a small anteroom where instructions are offered (set the viewer’s time to midday), together with a single door. Step through this, and a familiar – to anyone who has seen The Shining – hallway from the Overlook Hotel opens up, complete with child’s tricycle.

As one would expect of a hotel, the hallway is lined in either side with room doors, some of which have their keys in the locks. They offer access to sets from The Shining – a lounge, the restrooms, the bathroom – as well as to the main rotating hallway of Space Station 5 from 2001 A Space Odyssey, where Doctor Heyward Floyd stops-over en route to the Moon and TMA-1, and another featuring A Clockwork Orange.

Within some of the rooms there are videos which delve into The Shining and 2001 – just ensure media is enabled on your viewer and click the screens as you come across them. A small cinema at one end of the hallway offers the 2014 documentary Kubrick Remembered, looking back on the great man’s life. At almost 90 minutes long, this is more than worth watching, presenting a fascinating retrospective on the man. Alongside of this is a small gift shop.

The Wells Exhibit can be found on the floor above Netera’s Coffee Lounge in Snug Harbour, and is curated by the lounge’s owner, Netera Landar. Use the teleport door set into the wall of the lounge, the disk on the floor, or the outdoor staircase to reach it. Examining the life and works of Herbert George Wells, the English writer, this is a somewhat more modest affair than The Kubrick Rooms, designed to fit within the space provided by the upper floor of the coffee lounge.

Information boards provide biographical information on H.G. Wells while the walls are home to archive photographs of him and a note card giver listing his publications. However, the majority of the exhibit focuses on Wells’ science fiction works. There are posters celebrating The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897) and The Sleeper Awakes (1910), together with small pictures dedicated to A Modern Utopia (1905) and The Shape of Things to Come (1933).  Two slightly larger displays touch upon what might be his most well-known novels: The Time Machine (1895) and The War of the Worlds (1897).

Information on Wells’ writing is actually a little light and could perhaps benefit from two or three additional information boards. However, the Wells Exhibit still makes for an easy-going visit for those with an interest in his work. For those looking for a more unusual outing, it and The Kubrick Rooms might be just the ticket.  

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