Simbelmyne and a Love Story in Second Life

Simbelmyne

Simbelmynë, also called Evermind, has its roots in Tolkien’s tales of Middle Earth. It was a white flower that grew in Rohan; now, in Second Life, it is the name given to one half of the homestead region of Isle of Love.

Designed by L E S (Lestat Heninga) with assistance from Arol Lightfoot, Simbelmyne in Second Life presents a beautifully wild landscape carrying echoes of Tolkien’s Middle Earth without intending the be representative of Middle Earth.  Covering the northern half of the region, it is entirely open to the public with the exception of the beach house in the north-west corner of the land, which is a private residence.

Simbelmyne

The SLurl will deliver visitors across the region from the beach house, in the north-east corner, where they’ll immediately see the Tolkienesque influence. An ancient ruin stands atop a set of worn stone steps and runs southwards over a series of arches spanning a shallow inlet, to arrive at an old fortification, itself in ruin. Headless and armless winged figures stand guard over the steps, and across the bridge-like arches a stone robed figure stares blankly westwards.

A mist drifts slow inland from the arches, sharing the space between tall fir trees with ferns and white flowers which could so easily be simbelmyne, to where more walls, these intricately carved, sit within a small copse. Beyond them the land opens out, pointing the way towards the beach house on the horizon, allowing the view of it to remind visitors it is a private residence.

Simbelmyne

Further south, the trees give way to a small lake fed by a waterfall. An old wooden shack sits on the bank of the lake, bracketed by a moored rowing boat on one side and a small camp on the other, across the neck of a reedy channel that points eastwards to the sea.  A track meanders by the lake, heading west to the beach (open to the public), the ground carpeted in ferns and flowers which slowly give way to grass as the sands on the beach are reached.

Across the curtain of cliffs dividing the land is Love Story – Lost at Sea, by Lauren (Daisy Kwon). This is a coastal setting with a story of its own concerning lost love, hopes, the passing of time, and a love that encompasses a lifetime. The best way to enjoy this story is to read it for yourself from the note card that#’s presents to all arrivals to the land, and I’m not going to repeat it here.

Love Story – Lost at Sea

Hemmed to the north and east by high cliffs, but open to the sea to the west and south, the land presents itself as a coastal village or hamlet – where is not important, although the buildings running along the single street suggest this is somewhere along the European coastline of the Mediterranean. These buildings – a tavern, a bakery and a coffee-house – look out over a small, square harbour where sailing boats are tied alongside old wooden piers, watched over by a squat lighthouse. The latter seems needed, given the wreck brought up against the rocks to one side of the harbour entrance.

An old shack sits in the shadow of the lighthouse. It occupies a small space of flat land between lighthouse and rows of grape vines which step their way down a gentle slope. The shack forms a part of the story to the region, as does the gravestone close by. Looking out over the harbour, the shack is the perfect vantage point for sea views, perhaps only matched by the ruins of the old pavilion on the far side of the harbour, a place now devoted to dancing.

Love Story – Lost at Sea

Set beneath a setting sun, both Simbelmyne and Love Story – Lost at Sea offer romantic locations ripe for visiting. Each has a number of spots where sitting and cuddling can take place, and both are very photogenic.

SLurl Details

Isle of Love is rated Moderate

Advertisements

Lost dreams in Second Life

Le Sixième Sens, Les Reves Perdus; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr Les Reves Perdus – click any image for full size

Les Reves Perdus (“Dreams Lost”) is a public homestead region designed by Chanell (zaziaa), which Caitlyn and I were drawn to visiting after seeing a photo by Wurfi, a fellow photographer and blogger. Described as “an original world of dreams and creativity, with the atmosphere of nature,” it is a place visitors are invited to enjoy and photograph, and it does indeed present a relaxing landscape in which to wander and spend time.

Placing the region is a little hard; there is a touch of provincial France about it, together with a little twist of Tuscany, thanks to the villa occupying part of the region. The low-lying parts of the island, however, could be representative of just about any temperate coastal / marshland area in the world. Nevertheless, the theme works, and everything comes together to create a charming, photogenic scene.

Le Sixième Sens, Les Reves Perdus; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr Les Reves Perdus

A visit starts on the low-lying part of the island, at the end of a dirt track which gently undulates along an avenue of trees, leading the way to a set of stone steps which rise to the highland reaches of the region, of which more anon.

Mostly grass-covered, this lowland is home to grazing sheep and horses, with the greenery broken up by bright splashes of rapeseed and wild flowers.  It is also split into two, linked via stone and log bridges, with some marshy outlying areas sitting a short distance across the water to the north and north-west. Over the bridges, the land is more divided between grass and sand, the former giving way to a widening arc of the latter, offering plenty of places to sit and enjoy the view out over the open waters to a sailing ship lying off the coast, or inland over a shallow bay, fed in part by a horseshoe waterfall, to the cliffs of the highlands.

Le Sixième Sens, Les Reves Perdus; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr Les Reves Perdus

A lone outcrop of rock rises from the south-eastern end of the beach, a wooden cabin sitting on its flat top. A rope bridge spans the narrow neck of water separating it from a promontory on which sits another cabin, the two offering a cosy place for couples. From here, it is possible to climb up onto the higher ground – but I don’t recommend it: there is neither a path for doing so, nor is the immediate landscape designed to be seen from this side.

Instead, the best way to appreciate the upland area is via the track and stone stairs near the landing point. These will take you up to a broad, largely flat plateau where the Tuscan villa sits, a tide of wild grass and rapeseed washing around it and held at bay from reaching the pool in front of the villa by bushes and bright flowers. Deer roam this wild garden, while the villa’s dining room is set for a formal meal, and its outhouse offers a lounge area with light refreshments. Climb the stairs of the villa, and you’ll enter the realm of an artist, whilst beyond the walls of the villa, the land grows wild on one side, and offers a small orchard on the other, an old pick-up truck offering another place for couples to snuggle.

Le Sixième Sens, Les Reves Perdus; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr Les Reves Perdus

Les Reves Perdus makes for a charming visit, and the default windlight offers plenty of scope for photographs and the region as a whole presents plenty of scope for those who like to use their preferred windlights or like to experiment. This is an ideal place to visit if you’re seeking some quiet time on your own or with a friend. Caitlyn and I took certainly found it relaxing to sit on a hammock chatting, while looking out over the water to where the little folly sits amidst the pinks and greens of the marshy outlands.

SLurl Details

A sixth sense in Second Life

Le Sixième Sens, Le Sixième Sens; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr Le Sixième Sens – click any image for full size

We first visited Le Sixième Sens (“the sixth sense”) in January of 2017, at a time when the region was popping up in blogs and photo streams. As I didn’t get to write about it then, I recently found myself hopping back to see what had changed and to catch-up on my own write-up for the region.

Designed by Natacha Haroldsen, the region presents itself as a little corner of Tuscany, where “a plaza surrounded by old shops that give you a rustic feeling,” sits beneath a pale azure sky, and a vineyard climbs the slope of a hill, beckoning those who stand at the archway of the plaza to explore the land before them.

Le Sixième Sens, Le Sixième Sens; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr Le Sixième Sens

Six months may have passed since Caitlyn and I first followed the track down from the boutique shops gathered around the landing point and out over the arched back of a stone bridge, but little has changed in that time. Le Sixième Sens retains a wonderfully relaxed feel, offering the kind of setting you hope to find whilst travelling on vacation; a place that calls on you to stop, explore, run your fingers lightly over the delicate curl of flower petals and watch the water slip slowly under bridge and bough.

From the little piazza, visitors can wander across this gentle, rocky landscape, passing over the waters which divide it into three islands, and meander among the sunflowers, poppies and trees, going wherever their feet my take them.

Le Sixième Sens, Le Sixième Sens; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr Le Sixième Sens

There are, of course, the vines mentioned above, paraded in neat rows up the slope of a hill to where a villa-style farmhouse sits. The lower slopes of this hill are covered in tall grass, on which horses graze and sheep roam and chickens cluck their way around another, smaller farmhouse. On this northern headland, extending out from the vineyard’s hill, sit old ruins which both face the piazza of shops across the water to one side and shelter moored rowing boats on the other, before the land ends in the broken finger of a lighthouse.

South and east, separated from the other island by bay and channel, sits a tall rocky plateau. A path rising from the trees below it forms a switch-backs up one of the otherwise sheer cliffs to where a small studio, gracefully called The Writer’s Workshop, sits. It commands a view out over the water, and offers the perfect vantage point for a painter. Linked to the rest of the land by a single bridge and with its screen of trees guarding the path from that bridge, the plateau gives a sense of tranquil separation from the rest of the region without ever feeling apart from it.

Le Sixième Sens, Le Sixième Sens; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr Le Sixième Sens

Throughout this landscape, filled with the sounds of birds singing, can be found numerous places to sit and relax, or share a cuddle or a dance. A picnic blanket awaits under the shade of bushes in one direction, a chess set and sofa can be found among the farm’s outbuildings, the ruins hide a swing chair, while the rowing boats offer their own places to sit and contemplate the world – or one another. And that’s just the start; much more awaits those who take the time to explore.

Wherever you roam in Le Sixième Sens, there is something to be found and enjoyed, whether you are seeking a place to relax or a location to photograph (join the region’s group and you’ll get rezzing rights as well). The default windlight setting presents the region under what might be one of the cooler days of late summer or autumn – the hay bales in particular adding to this autumnal suggestion; but this is a place which invites tweaking and playing with windlights, and I couldn’t resist taking some photos suggestive of warmer summer days.

Le Sixième Sens, Le Sixième Sens; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr Le Sixième Sens

SLurl Details

A little (Bento) horse riding at Calas Galadhon in Second Life

Out on the Calas horse trails, Caitlyn leading the way

I’m not a horse owner, but riding is something I’ve had the good fortunate to enjoy from time to time, and on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s also something I’ve occasionally enjoyed in Second Life, although I’m now long past the point, land-wise, where keeping a horse in-world makes a lot of sense. So, in the latter regard, my riding enjoyment is restricted to taking the opportunity in those regions where riding options are offered.

One such location is Calas Galadhon Park, which offers for Teegle and Breeder’s Choice horses and, since March of 2017, the Water Horse Bento horse. Although Ty Tenk of Calas dropped me a line about the Bento horses when they were added, we weren’t in a position to try things then, and to be honest, it just slipped my mind). However, the news that there’s a new Coast Trail for horse riding through the Calas regions gave Caitlyn and I just the excuse to hop over and try things out.

The Water Horse Bento horse makes for a very natural feeling ride, while the Coast Trail at Calas still takes you through the redwood forest

The new Coast Trail forms a circular route around several of the Calas regions. It nominally starts at the bridge linking Dimirill Dale to Calas Galadhon, then runs around the lake at Calas Galadhon and up through the redwood forest of Mirromere, before curving around the cliffs of the Misty Mountains and dropping down into the islands of Long Lake. From there it arcs down through Belegear, touches the Grey Havens, and so returns to Dimrill Dale. Along the way, it offers some stunning views over the Calas park lands and waters.

As we were commencing our ride further south, at the Bento horse giver in Glanduin, (another horse giver can be found at Mirromere), Caitlyn and I opted to start our ride from there – and do things “backwards”, looping up through Dimrill Dale to Belegear, and then swinging through Long Lake and down through the Misty Mountains and Mirromere, to reach Calas Galadhon.

The Coast Ride takes you through the wilds of Calas Galadhon Park, and past some of its picturesque landmarks, such as the Greek Village, a reminder of “old Armenelos”

The Water Horse giver is easy to use, with the instructions clearly visible on the sign. Follow them, and you really can’t go wrong. The supplied horse is provided as a temp attachment (so nothing in your inventory), and is a demo version with about an hour’s duration, after which it will be removed / deleted. As it is a demo version, I can’t offer a comprehensive review  of it here; but what I can say is that as a Bento extension to the avatar skeleton, the horse handles very naturally (just remember to turn off your AO!), and you do get the four motion speeds – walk, trot, canter and gallop. Given the lay of the land at Calas, there are plenty of opportunities to try all of them.

Being a demo with an hour’s duration, the horse provided by the giver isn’t as fully featured as the actual Water Horse Bento horses, so I can’t offer a review here. What I can say, however, is that it is more than enough to give you a basic feel for riding the horse, and to demonstrate just how well the horse works as an extension to your avatar. You do get the four speed options – walk, trot, canter and gallop, and the Calas trails provide plenty of places where each can be tired.

Trotting across a bridge

The trails through Calas are a joy to ride – whichever horse system you have / use – and are fairly clearly signposted throughout. As the newest, the  Coast Trail is beautifully picturesque, particularly if you tackle it clockwise, as we did. To do this, follow the track up from the horse giver and through the farm and across the covered bridge. Then follow the trail under the rock arch, and then bear left before the next bridge, following the water’s edge westwards towards the Grey Heavens, and over the marshes to Belegear’s slender peninsula.

Going around the trail this way really opens out the park’s fabulous beauty from the start, leaving the lakeside buildings of Calas Galadhon itself until last, where a well-deserved drink can be had. The hour-long duration of the demo Water Horse means there is plenty of time to take the trail without having to unduly hurry.

Resting in the saddle near the cliffs of the Misty Mountains

I’ve always enjoyed Calas Galadhon, whether on horseback or foot, and the new Coast Trail is a delight, bringing home the natural beauty of the parklands, whether riding a Bento horse or any other horse type available from the rezzers in the regions (and if you’re a member of the Calas group, yo can always hop along and ride your own, if you haven’t already).

My only regret with our little foray is that as my video software still isn’t playing nice with the viewer at times, leaving me unable to record our meanderings. Fortunately, Ty made this point moot, having produced his own video highlighting both the Water Horse Bento horse and the riding trails of Calas. So I’ll leave you with that instead 🙂 .

SLurls and Links

All Calas Galadhon regions are rated Moderate.