Summer can still be found in Second Life

Salt Water; Inara Pey, December 2014, on FlickrSalt Water (Flickr)

Winter has drawn a snowy cloak over much of Second Life. However, for those seeking sunshine, sand and a little warmth, it can still be found.

One place were the sun does still shine is Salt Water. Once the home of Baja Norte (which relocated to a region of its own a while ago), the region is still a place of verdant green and yellow sand, albeit bathed in the light of a forever setting sun (causing me to fiddled windlight to an earlier time of day when making my visit).

Now an Adult rated region, Salt Water is maintained by TreMeldazis, and forms one of three regions in his care. The other two are Isle of Grace, which is restricted access and appears to be Tre’s home, and Sounds of Silence, a homestead region designed by Sunshine Zhangsun (who also worked on Salt Water) for the purposes of photography, and now kept open through Tre’s generosity.

Salt Water; Inara Pey, December 2014, on FlickrSalt Water (Flickr)

There’s no actual description with Salt Water, but given it is Adult, and cuddle spots are scattered right across the region (as are dance systems), don’t be surprised if you do come across a spot of canoodling going on should you decide to wander the beaches or explore inland.

The island has an eye-catching design, with beaches forming most of the perimeter, together with low grasslands no the north side. The interior of the island is largely given over to tall rocky outcrops and plateaus, paths winding up their sides and stone bridges spanning the gaps between them. A channel of water curls inland from the beach on the west side of the island, into which fresh water tumbles from rocky cliffs rising above it.

Salt Water; Inara Pey, December 2014, on FlickrSalt Water (Flickr)

Atop the tallest of the plateaus can be found a studio house, open to the public, its woodwork bleached and worm from exposure to the sun and the salt of the air around the island. The remaining plateaus all have their own features to be enjoyed by couples and groups, with places to sit and chat or cuddle or places to dance through the evening light. For those who enjoy the beach, there are sun loungers to be found, while a further wooden house has been built out over the water at Mermaid Cove, partially protected from the tide by a breakwater of rocks.

Needless to say, the opportunities for photography within the island are myriad, the landscape offering a rich diversity of backgrounds. Rezzing is open for those who need props for their photos – but do please be sure to clean-up behind you. With both Isle of Grace and Sounds of Silence visible from Salt Water, some great backdrops can be had for the photographically gifted.

Salt Water; Inara Pey, December 2014, on FlickrSalt Water (Flickr)

For those wishing to extend their explorations, Sounds of Silence is a simple hop away, and offers a charm of its own. However, I’ll be saving that for another article on another day!

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A visit to Hydra Isles

Umbral Photography, Hydra Isles (Flickr)

A few days ago I had the opportunity to visit Hyrda Isles, the homestead region designed and curated by vlady Veeper and Coqueta Veeper, and a place of two very distinct parts.

The south side of the region offers Umbral Photography,  “a place created for photography, including seasonal landscapes, lakes, full house, animated bridges, free permits to rez your own poses”. The north side of the island, and notably the north-west quarter of the region, is given over to Umbral. an adult-focused environment for erotica and D/s. The demarcation between the two areas is low-key, and visitors are free to wander between both – indeed the photogenic elements of the region are evident throughout, and not restricted to just the the south side.

Umbral Photography, Hydra Isles (Flickr)

Seasons change within the region, and right now and in keeping with much of Second Life, there is a distinctly wintry feel to Hydra Isles: snow lies on the ground and atop roofs and rocky outcrops, while the water flowing between the islands has a distinctly chilly look to it, so be prepared when wading!

Where you roam first really depends upon where you arrive; use the Umbral photography SLurl, and you’ll arrive alongside a stone bridge on a narrow rocky bar connecting two of the island in this part of the region. Wall away from the bridge, through the tree, and you’ll come to the ruins of an old church in which sits a small art gallery, partially flooded, and beyond it, a outdoor seating area with armchairs, books, refreshments and a warm stove – albeit all in a small snowstorm!

Cross the bridge from the landing point, and you’ll find yourself led to the house, sitting at the end of a avenue of trees, their boughs bent arch-like overhead. As the parcel description notes, the house is open to all, and offers further opportunities for photography indoors and out.

Umbral Photography, Hydra Isles (Flickr)

The north side of the region, as mentioned above, features a large structure given over to erotica and D/s activities. As such, what you may find there is variable, and the landing point outside the building provides clear guidelines on acceptable behaviour therein.

Outside of this, and in keeping with the overall theme of the region, are a number of small islands, each offering their own opportunities for photography or for simply sitting and cuddling with a loved one. Chief among these is a rocky island to the north-east, which features a tiny lighthouse atop a rocky promontory, looking across the water towards the old church, and with seats and a cuddle spot below.

All told, an interesting region to visit and explore, with opportunities to simply sit and share time with a friend, made all the more pleasant by the friendly and warm greetings extended by  Coqueta and vlady when they are also present in the region.

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Frisland in winter

Frisland, Laluna Island (Flickr)

Back in March 2014, I made my first visit to Frisland, the region Charlie Namiboo, Anna Barzane and Frislanda “Fris” Ferraris created while imagining what the mystical land for which it is named might look like, if it were to actually exist.

Given that the island was supposed to exist in the North Atlantic, it is hardly surprising that winter has come a-visiting at Frisland, and snow now lies deep on the ground across most of the region, and frost has turned the bare-armed trees a hoary white, while ice covers the ponds and some of the water of the island’s stream.

Frisland, Laluna Island (Flickr)

Frisland has always been a lovely, photogenic place, but the snowy blanket covering it now gives it an extra edge of  beauty and, frankly, romance. The layout of the region hasn’t really changed – nor should it; but there are a few seasonal additions – an ice skate vendors alongside the central pond, and if you get cold or want a little extra Christmas feel to your home, Anna offers a free Frisland winter scarf for visitors and a set of decorative candles for the home. Further down the path from the main houses is a mulled wine stall, should you need a little warming-up, and close to that, a snowman offers you his trick of doing a handstand…

Frisland, Laluna Island (Flickr)

All told, a beautiful make-over which retains all of the photogenic beauty of the island, making it a must-see of the season. Little wonder it has been in the Editor’s Picks of the Destination Guide!

But rather than me rabbit on about it, here’s a little machinima I hope you’ll enjoy.

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Of literature and performing art

Wilanow Palace and Gardens,Oceanea

As might be apparent from some of the coverage of events and activities in this this blog, I enjoy literature and the arts. Reading in particular is a passion of mine, and I have a voracious appetite for both non-fiction and fiction across a broad range of subjects and genres. So it’s a little surprising that it has taken me a while to find my way to writing about Luminaux and Oceanea.

Luminaux is home to the Illumination Library, founded by Librarian & Bookmaker, Farzaneh Eel. Here, set within a garden designed by Xinoxi Han, can be found an intriguing collection of in-world interactive books designed and created by Farzaneh, available in a range of languages and covering a wide range of topics – fiction, non-fiction, biographical studies, religious works, and so on.

The Illumination Library, Luminaux

The library is housed in two buildings, both by Xinoxi Han, and both in a somewhat 18th or 19th style. The primary (and, I would guess, older) of the two buildings offers three floors to explore, each of which offers numerous interactive books (and audio books) which can be enjoyed from the comfort of armchairs and sofas. works on offer here focus on the 19th Century, although are by no means exclusive to that time.

The annex building, facing the main library from across the region, has the feel of a more recent style about it.. Featuring three large halls, complete with gallery spaces, it is focused on religious tests, the works of William Blake and those of William Shakespeare, all beautifully bound and presented.

As well as the main library building, the gardens contain the library’s Biblio Shop, where interactive books can be purchased, and the garden gallery, a room offering visitors the chance to enjoy a game of chess or the chance to simply sit and chat.

The Illumination Library, Luminaux
The Illumination Library, Luminaux

Connected to Luminaux via a pair of stone bridges, Oceanea is the home to the Wilanow Palace and Gardens, the Royal Opera House and Ritz Ballroom.

Covering one half the the region, the palace may not be as expansive as somewhere like Angel Manor, but it nevertheless offers period rooms and a former garden for visitors to explore, and welcomes those who wish to do so – complete with opportunities to dance using the Intan systems scattered around the property.

Facing the palace across a further bridge spanning a deep cut in the land, sit the Royal Opera House and the Ritz Ballroom. Both bear the distinctive hallmarks of Kaya Angel (of Angel Manor fame), and have been positioned by Xinoxi Han, who designed the overall setting in which they are located, and who was also one of several contributors to the design of the palace and it gardens, along with Andy Loon, Xen Oller and 1Selene2012.

The Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House, Oceanea

The Opera House is intended to “encourage, educate and support the best in classical arts (Music, Dance, Art, Opera, Theatre) throughout Second Life and beyond. To be informed of all the best classical events join Second Life”, and it is certainly a sumptuous building inside, with an imposing exterior which suits its surrounding perfectly. Productions are routinely held here, and those interested in keeping abreast of productions and performances can join the Second Life Opera Society group. The Ballroom, facing the Opera House across a fountained courtyard, presents a venue for live performances and dances.

Both Luminaux and Oceanea offering an interesting change for those who enjoy exploring Second Life, particularly if one has an interest in either literature (Farzaneh Eel’s books really are a delight – I could spend hours looking through her Shakespeare collection) or the performing arts. With the Wilanow Palace and Gardens just across the stream from the Royal Opera House, a visit to see a performance at the later can be enhanced by a wander around the former, particularly if accompanied by a friend.

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The Bay: tropical retreat with an adult twist

The Bay, Cats; Inara Pey, December 2014, on FlickrThe Bay, Cats (Flickr)

Mz Marville is perhaps best know for her work with Matoluta Sanctuary, which has been the focus of articles in this blog on more than one occasion, my last visit there being in September 2014.

However, in November, she opened the doors on a new venture: The Bay, located on the region of Cats, and it is a place I’ve been meaning to take a look at since it opened, but have only just managed to get my head sufficiently above water to do so properly.

The Bay, Cats; Inara Pey, December 2014, on FlickrThe Bay, Cats (Flickr)

Now, the first things to note is that The Bay is Adult rated, and that Adult activities do take place on the island. Although there is a Members Only area in the centre of the island (group membership required to access), which may keep most adult activities out of sight from casual visitors, do be aware that adult-themed role-play and socialising are permitted throughout the island, so long as everything meets The Bay’s rules.

Aside from the Members Only area, the island is open to the public and offers a tropical locale with an interesting mixing of wildlife – African elephants can be found here as well as their Indian cousins, alongside tigers and monkeys. There are plenty of casual cuddle spots / meeting places to be found in the public areas – rafts and boats on the water, beach houses and cabins up on the rocks and hills. The landscape offers plenty of opportunities for photography, and opportunities to explore around the coastal areas.

The Bay, Cats; Inara Pey, December 2014, on FlickrThe Bay, Cats (Flickr)

The most prominent landmark is perhaps that of an old brigantine (a design by Eduardos Ducatillon and which is seeing some popularity among region designers at the moment).  This is where the main landing point is located, with information boards on the island and the activities taking place there. It also gives the island something of a piratical feel, which is itself in modest ways, carried through to other areas of the region.

Group membership can be obtained for a one-off L$350 payment, and this grants you access to all of the members’ areas on the ground and in the air. These can be found in the centre of the island, where heavy wooden doors guard the entrance to a deep mine (and a security system guards against non-group member access, with a reasonable 90-second warning). Down in the mines lay private areas, while close to the doors sits a teleport disc providing access to member’s facilities up in the sky, centred on a very plush bath house, all of which have something of a pirate theme to them.

The Bay, Cats; Inara Pey, December 2014, on FlickrThe Bay, Cats (Flickr)

Note that in a recent move by The Bay’s management, group members can also request temporary access to the Members Areas for friends, should they wish to show them around.

Music events are also a feature of The Bay, with events taking place between 14:00-16:00 once a week, although days on which they occur may vary; there will also be special Premier Events, only open to group members.

To celebrate its opening, The Bay is running a photography competition with some impressive prizes: L$8,000 and a gift card courtesy of the region’s sponsor,  CerberusXing (who is also responsible for the interior designs in the region) for the first place prize;  L$3,500 and 2 weeks use of a 1/4 region with 800 LI for the second prize and a L$2,500 third place prize.

Participants can submit up to three photos of The Bay to the The Bay Flickr pool to enter. These must be original photos for the competition (e.g. not used elsewhere), and entrants are encouraged  to utilise adult themes and membership to The Bay VIP group. Entrants should also be away that submission of entries to the competition gives The Bay permission to modify and display photographs on The Bay’s website and in any future marketing/advertising. The closing date for entries is Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014.

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Let it snow!

Let it snow! Isles of Lyonesse; Inara Pey, December 2014, on FlickrLet it Snow! Isles of Lyonesse (Flickr)

I was drawn to Let It Snow! after Xiola Linden tweeted about it and I the region’s description in the Destination guide Entry:

The fire is slowly dying, and my dear, we’re still goodbye-ing. But as long as you love me so, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! At Let It Snow, enjoy dancing, romancing, exploring, meeting, ice-skating, snow and winter cheer. Merry Christmas.

As any music lover will know, the first line of this description is from Sammy Cahn and Julie Styne’s seasonal classic, Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! For me, as someone who enjoys the Great American Songbook, it’s an added reason for going exploring. And I have to say, Let it Snow! is more than worth a visit.

Let it snow! Isles of Lyonesse; Inara Pey, December 2014, on FlickrLet it Snow! Isles of Lyonesse (Flickr)

Owned and designed by well-known SL artist, Milly Sharple, the region is a seasonal delight, offering precisely what the description on the label promises: dancing, romancing, exploring, meeting, ice-skating and winter cheer.  Intan dance systems are available right from the landing point, an open-air dance floor complete with a musical sextet,  and across the region, indoors and out.

Given the region’s name, the fact that snaow is falling across most of it should come as no surprise; everything is covered in a deep, white  blanket. A handful of cottages are scattered across the land, the largest of which offers cosy hideaway with Christmas tree and roaring fire to toast toes. Other cosy spots can be found around the island for those looking for snuggles, and skating can be enjoyed in a couple of places.

Let it snow! Isles of Lyonesse; Inara Pey, December 2014, on FlickrLet it Snow! Isles of Lyonesse (Flickr)

There are some lovely little touches that should bring a smile to every face – particularly the snow children playing outside one of the cottages, having a snowball fight, floating on a balloon or getting quite caught-up in making a snowman of their own.

I could wax lyrical about Let it Snow, but given the name is taken from a set of lyrics, I thought why not simply let the region tell its own story? So here are some of the pictures I took while visiting (some of which have been post-processed to (hopefully) give a painted “Christmas card” look), set to the one and only Dean Martin singing the song. Enjoy!

(As I’ve been a tad naughty and used copyrighted material in the video, it may be blocked in some countries. If so, I offer my Flickr album for the region for those interested!)

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