Spirit of Sun, Spring 2018 in Second Life

Spirit of Sun; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrSpirit of Sun – click any image for full size

Now open to the public through until approximately Sunday, March 18th, is Spirit of Sun, a normally private group-owned region. The region has been opened to public access as a part of a photo competition, in which entrants are asked to submit images to the Flickr group associated with the Spirit of Sun. Caitlyn and I were alerted to the opening by Shakespeare and Max, so given the brief period of opening we hopped over to take a look – and found a visually stunning region, well worth taking the time to visit.

The region has been split into three large islands of roughly equal size. The landing point is on the southernmost of the three, a slender finger that runs east-west across the sim’s entire length. A rugged plateau, it is topped by a  bumper car ride (available to visitors) at its eastern end, linked to a central plaza of shops by a broad cobbled walk and wooden steps. Beyond the shops sits a garden area featuring a small stage, open-air seating and a track leading back to the shops.

Spirit of Sun; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrSpirit of Sun

A small headland extends from this island, pushing out into the waters of the region’s channels. A great stone bridge once spanned the channel between this southern island and the one to the north-west, where a knuckle of rock rises from the surrounding land. However, some disaster long ago broke the back of the bridge, leaving it a ruin on either side of the channel. Instead, the western island can be reached via a switchback path winding down to the foot of the blunt headland to where a pier sits, two sailing boats moored against it, the wreck of a fishing boat close by.

The boathouse behind the pier offers a cosy place to sit – one of several across the region – while on the side of it opposite to the wreck of the fishing boat lies a small wooden bridge. A little awkward to reach, it nevertheless provides access to the western island by way of a low table of rock and grass sitting mid-channel.

Spirit of Sun; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrSpirit of Sun

The knuckle of rock against which the ruined bridge is anchored is one of two plateaus on this island, the second being home to an old lighthouse. A dirt track runs south-to-north along the island, passing under a rocky arch between these two plateaus, pointing the way to a third at the northern end of the island. This home to a broad wooden deck, reached by stairs. A greenhouse converted for use as a summer-house sits close to the foot of the steps, while the deck at the top sits around an old English-style folly. Tables and chairs are placed out across the deck, while the folly itself offers a further comfortable lounge.

Between these highland areas is more to be found – a café sitting in the middle of a small lake, another greenhouse – this one of more traditional design – presenting another cosy snug. Pass under the rocky arch to the southern headland, and you’ll find a camp site complete with a pair of British Land Rovers which look like they are on an outing from Encounter Overland.

Spirit of Sun; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrSpirit of Sun

Across the water to east is the remaining island. Dominated by another massive plateau – one equalling the height of the southern island, leaving a deep gorge between the two – curls around the eastern coastline of the  island to form a broad ridge descending down to the lowlands. Six houses sit atop this plateau and ridge, spaced along the track that winds its way along both.  As these appear to be private residencies, discretion when walking by them is recommended.

The lower part of the island offers a broad greensward of grass running out to a narrow ribbon of a beach. This is the home of another camp site, this one apparently of a Romany origin, watched over by a stone windmill oddly built against the rocky face of the plateau. Further around this southern headland lies another summer-house and further secluded spot couples can enjoy.

Spirit of Sun; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrSpirit of Sun

Spirit of Sun is a richly engaging place to explore – albeit one with a limited time with which people can appreciate it. With this latter point in mind, I’d suggest anyone wanting to visit do so sooner rather than later, least public access is restricted once more. And don’t forget to submit photos to the region’s Flickr group. Congrats to Justine Lemton, Doutz (Rianna Joubert), and the rest of the group for their creation.

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Bailey’s Norge in Second Life

Bailey's Norge; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrBailey’s Norge – click any image for full size

In late January, Caitlyn and I visited Bailey’s Norge, designed by the Bailey family and in the Homestead region of Forest Haven. At the time, it wasn’t clear how long the region would be open to public visits, but as it is still open to people to explore, I thought I’d write a few words on it.

Designed to represent a piece of rural Norway, the region sits within a ring of green mountains, surrounded by water as if snuggled at the inland end of a fjord, a single channel leading out to sea, watched over by the rotating eye of a lighthouse.

Bailey's Norge; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrBailey’s Norge

A visit starts close to the centre of the region, on a set of stepping-stones running across the mouth of a channel separating two of the region’s islands – so be sure to wait until everything has rezzed and rendered before taking too many steps, or you might end up taking and unexpected bath.

These stones link the two largest islands with one another. The easternmost of these islands has a north-south orientation, and is occupied by two large houses. One of these sits alongside the stepping-stones, the second to the north, reached by a walk through the long grasses which dominate the flatlands of the island. This second house has the look of a working home – a pier sits on the shoreline close by, perhaps home to the fishing boat out in the bay, and with fish drying on the lines alongside the pier. And old pick-up truck has been converted into a makeshift flower garden, while a seating area lies in the shade of trees.

Bailey's Norge; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrBailey’s Norge

A box bridge spans the water separating the northern end of this island with one of the two small islands on the north side of the region. Cut by a man-made water channel, where a little snuggle spot can be found atop a raft, it is otherwise deserted. A second small island lies to the west – but please note it appears to be a private residence, so exploration there should perhaps be avoided in the interests of privacy.

Travel south through the grasslands of the east-side island, and you’ll find your way to a small cabin snug against the southern coastline, looking west towards the second of the large islands, on which sits a large number of structures. A gable roofed bridge sits close by, spanning the narrow channel dividing the two islands from each other.

Bailey's Norge; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrBailey’s Norge

The closest of the  buildings across the bridge is a large Scandinavian-style house. It is clearly a family home, given the swings, slide, roundabout and see-saw in the fenced garden. Surrounding this on two sides are outhouses and barns. These give the house the feel of being a farm, although the outhouses have been converted for particular uses: a bathhouse and a small photography studio / gallery.

Slight further afield, on the north side of the island lies a little shop, a converted boat dock nearby, a swing seat replacing the covered moorings. Further along the curve of the shoreline sits an old Norse building, its apparent age hinting that there has been a settlement here for a long time. Meanwhile, on the west side of the island sits a wood-framed church. This faces a boathouse sitting on the shore alongside a wooden deck that extends out over the waters. As well as offering cosy seating indoors and chairs on the deck, the boathouse also has a hot tub and hammock outside.

Bailey's Norge; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrBailey’s Norge

With rich, open spaces with places to sit and / or cuddle scattered throughout, and one or two little surprises waiting to be found – keep an eye out for the Norwegian troll keeping a watch on things from the tree-line – Bailey’s Norge offers a lot to see and enjoy. Should you enjoy a visit, please consider offering a donation towards the upkeep of the region (the donation box is at the southern end of the east-side island). And if you take photos, please consider sharing them with the region’s Flickr group.

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Gaia Calling in Second Life

Gaia Calling; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrGaia Calling – click any image for full size

Gaia Calling is the name given to the Homestead region design by Gidgy (Gidgette Adagio) – who has previously presented Savor Serenity and Hobbiton (see here and here respectively). It is something of a departure from these previous builds, which were rooted in Tolkien’s mythologies, offering instead a take on more classical mythology – specifically that of the primordial deity, Gaia, the ancestral mother of all life and primal Mother Earth goddess. But while a departure from Gidgette’s past designs, it is nonetheless as enchanting as they have been.

A visit begins on a transparent octagonal platform serenely floating above a deep gorge cutting into an elevated landscape. This platform contains an echo of Gidgette’s earlier builds in that it is ringed by a circle of elven-like arches. A single arched walkway points the way to a second platform, almost at the centre of the region. From this, a tall figure of Gaia rises, arms uplifted as she becomes a tree – the perfect symbol of mother Earth – framed by a rising Sun.

Gaia Calling; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrGaia Calling

The roots for this great tree / statue reach down beneath the platform, extending down to the surface of the water below. The waters of this gorge are served by a series of waterfalls that tumble-down the cliffs and slopes of the surrounding ring of land – a right richly forested, but which doesn’t quite connect to either of the platforms, presenting visitors with an interesting quandary of how to get from platforms to land.

Flying is one means of crossing the divide – but there are preferable alternatives: the arrival platform includes a bubble rezzer for those who like to travel on their own. Simply touch to rez, sit in the bubble and use the WASD / arrow keys for forward / back motion and turnings, and PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN to increase / decrease altitude. For couples, there is a flying leaf rezzer, with the same principles applying to flying it.

Gaia Calling; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrGaia Calling

The surrounding lands offer various paths through the aged trees, some of which are strung with lights. Along these paths visitors can find numerous points of interest: lanterns offering dances, “magic” mushroom that rez picnic spots and / or cuddle spots, a gazebo rich with flower growing in an old bathtub, a cosy camp fire … all offering places to sit and appreciate the ethereal surroundings.

Nor is this all: bears and wolves and rabbits are scattered across the landscape, and for those willing to take the plunge – preferably via bubble or flying leaf –  there is a world under the surface of the waters to be found, where whale, porpoise, shark and more swim together, their surroundings rich in colour from corals and plants.

Gaia Calling; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrGaia Calling

“Many moons ago, many sunrises ago, Gaia called.” Gidgette says of the region, “Her song singing the essence of our being, the calling of the soul, the oneness of our dream, and as our consciousness arises, Gaia smiles.” Wandering this landscape, beautifully lit, it isn’t hard to imagine being one of Gaia’s first Earth-born, and even encouraging spiritual / conscious growth through the mediation platform extending from one of the cliffs of the gorge.

Gaia Calling is a marvellously ethereal setting, rich in content and beautifully photogenic (and photos can be submitted to the region’s Flickr group). It makes for both a restful and fun visit – particularly when floating around in the bubbles. There’s also a lot more to discover than might at first appear to be the case – not only because of the underwater setting mentioned above, but also because of other little spots I’ve refrained from mentioning here so that you might enjoy discovering them for yourself – just be sure to look underground and under tree…

Gaia Calling; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrGaia Calling

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Spring 2018 at La Vie in Second Life

La Vie; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrLa Vie – click any image for full size

It’s just two months since our last visit to La Vie, the homestead region designed by Krys Vita and Arol Lightfoot (see here for our winter visit write-up). Normally, I prefer not to re-visit regions after so short a space of time, but La Vie has always been somewhere special, so when I received word from Krys that the region had received a spring 2018 make-over, I knew we had to hop over a take a look.

The new design brings with it some motifs and elements those familiar with earlier iterations of the region will recognise – a broad sandy beach, rural paths and fields, a little gathering of buildings – while the region as a whole presents something wholly new in terms of look and feel.

La Vie

A visit begins on the west side, where sits a little cobble square with a round-cornered road to nowhere set within it. Two sides of this square – north and east – are bounded by tall shops and town houses. To the west, the square overlooks the open sea, a wooden board walk extending out over the rocky shoreline.

On the east side sits a gym ready for those wishing to keep themselves in shape (try the boxing bag). Close to the gym, a set of wooden boards and steps provide passage over more rocks and cross a sliver of water to where a small warehouse store and wharf sit at the water’s edge. This finger of the region is almost – but not quite – cut off from the rest by the water’s narrow passage, allowing it to offer a little corner of solitude, its southern edge marked by a cinder beach, and a cosy gazebo sitting in the middle of its grassy top.

La Vie

Finding other routes out of the little village square is somewhat harder. It sits on a flat table of rock, the rugged making passage to the beach to the north or the open lands to the east a matter of scrambling over rugged  shoulders of rock; it would perhaps be nice to have another wooden walkway and steps to help guide visitors. However, once the rocks have been negotiated, visitors will likely find themselves in a broad dip in the land that forms something of a track to be followed, easing further exploration.

Take this path northwards, and it becomes increasingly sandy until it delivers you to the broad northern beach. Take it eastwards, and it will lead you through grass and by tree and bush, curling gently around the large plateau that forms the backbone of the land, steadily rising towards the top as it does so. A set of stone steps passing between old iron gates mark the top of the plateau, and give the impression you’re entering a wild garden. Crowned by trees, the plateau is home to an old folly where beribboned  geese and winged mannequins gather around a wooden swing, all watched over by a passing unicorn. A second set of gates and steps present a way to a track running sharply  down the slope of the plateau to meet with the beach below.

La Vie

Throughout this setting are a number of places visitors can sit and enjoy the scenery, from the gazebo mentioned above, to bench seating and parasolled tables in the village square, to places like the folly and its swing and shady spots on the beach. There’s even an off-shore vantage point offering a bird’s-eye view of the region, although whether it is supposed to be used or not is questionable; it’s positioned so close to the region edge, anyone finding it and sitting on it is in for a dunking when they stand!

With March having arrived, and the promise of spring sitting on the horizon for those of us in the northern hemisphere – or the danker days of winter for those in southern climes – La Vie’s current make-over reminds us of the promise and delight of warmer, sunnier days and the opportunities for countryside walks or lazy afternoons on the beach.

La Vie

Another beautiful setting by Krys and Arol, and a perfect destination for those seeking somewhere to go.

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  • La Vie (La Vie, rated: Moderate)

A little more tee in Second Life

Angel Manor: always an amazing visit and for those trying SL golf for the first time, an excellent introduction to the game?

Caitlyn and I have been dabbling on-and-off with golfing in Second Life. Our preferred base of operations has been the AERO golf club, simply because it is so relatively quiet (see Teeing off in Second Life for more). However, there are many places in SL where a round or two can be enjoyed. So many, in fact, that there are doubtless favourites for many who enjoy the sport  – just as those coming into it for the first time might feel a little overwhelmed. Not just by the breadth of choice, but also by the prospect of trying to get around an entire 18 holes.

Of course, you can always break your round down over a couple of sessions: find a course and do the first nine, say, then come back and complete the back nine another day. Or, if that doesn’t appeal, you can always try a smaller course – such as the one at Angel Manor. Here, on the south side of Kaya Angel’s magnificent 12-region estate centred on his stunning manor house, can be found a delightful 6- hole course which can serve as an excellent introduction to SL golf.

Set within Angel Manor Park, the course covers just over half a region, and can be played using most golf systems. Two systems are provided at the tee for the first hole: Fa Nyak’s basic system of club and HUD (provided free and works for about a day), and the CrowleyCorp Elite golf system. The latter can be purchased outright from the vendor boards, or “rented” for L$10 per 16 hours (real-time).

One of the six fairways at Angel Manor Park

Fa Nayak’s system is more than adequate for more casual golf play in SL: everything is HUD-driven, with three basic clubs provided: driver, wedge and putter. The CrowleyCorp system is more sophisticated: HUD-driven again, it provides a set of 12 clubs: driver, 3 woods (1, 3, 5), five irons (5-9), a pitching wedge, a sand wedge, and a putter. In addition, the HUD provides options for adjusting the club size for a better fit with different height avatars, a range of camera options, a built-in power meter, a spinner for adjusting backspin on the ball,  and an animation suite (tee-up, walk to ball, drop ball, holster / unholster club from bag, if used).

Which of the two systems you play with is a matter of choice: Fa’s is the simpler of the two, and avoids the need to have to worry about fiddle-farting with options and settings – useful if you are just starting out. The CrowleyCorp system offers a more “realistic” approach to play, although with respect to the Angel Manor course, it probably really doesn’t come into its own, the holes all being relatively short par 2 or par 3 affairs with few obstacles which have to be worked around.

Both systems also offer the same basic play: select your club – such as the driver (which will also tee you up) –  then checking the particle wind indicator and noting the ball’s direction of flight as indicated by the arrow marker overlaying your ball. The LEFT / RIGHT cursor keys can be used to adjust the latter, and to compensate for winds cutting across the ball’s line-of-flight (headwinds and tail winds are handled through the power of your stroke).

The Fa Nayak HUD (l) offers the essentials for good game play without overwhelming the novice. The CC Elite HUD (C) offers a broader range of clubs (on the right) and additional gameplay and animation options. Selection of wood, iron or wedge opens a further sub-menu of options (r), requiring a greater degree of familiarity with the function of the various clubs

When your shot is aligned, it is then a case of pressing and holding the LEFT mouse button and monitoring the power behind your swing. This is indicated by the power meter on the CrowleyCorp HUD, or in-world with the Fa Nayak system, which uses a hovertext indicator. Judge the amount of power to put into a swing takes practice – and be wary of holding the mouse button down too long as the power meter reaches full strength (when needed), as this can over-drive your swing and lead to unexpected results. Then, note where your ball falls, may way for your companion players, before continuing down the fairway and to the green, selecting your clubs as required by each stroke.

Given their relatively short par lengths, the six holes at Angel Manor can be completely pretty easily, avoiding a round from becoming too drawn-out. As noted the obstacles are pretty limited, but it is still possible to get into the odd spot of bother which can make things fun. But, as a gentle introduction to golf in SL, the compact size of this course makes it pretty ideal – while the choice of systems available for play gives newcomers a good feel of what to expect on other courses.

Both systems use essentially the same approach to play, including swing direction indicators. note my camera is deliberately slewed to take this picture, and is not representative of gameplay camera positioning

Nor is this the only fun to be had in Angel Manor Park. Sitting in the middle of this little 6-hole course is a clay pigeon shooting system. Free-to-play, this is a qualification-based game: each round comprises 40 clays, with a minimum number which must be hit each round (e.g. 10 in the first), to progress to the next round. At the same time, the frequency and number of clays released each time increases, and the angles of release can become more and more divergent.

I’ve played this type of game in SL before (in fact, a really old, and no longer functional system is buried in my boxed inventory). Some require the payment of a basic fee to play, others are free – the Angel Manor system, created by Abramelin Wolfe – is free to play. Just get a shotgun from the board and touch the trap to start a round and go to Mouselook to shoot (left-click). My one minor niggle with this system is the gun has unlimited ammo: hitting the clays is a matter of blasting away as fast as possible, rather than making shots count in the knowledge you have to “reload” every 2 shots. But – it’s still fun to play.

So, if you’re looking for a gentle introduction to SL golf located within a eye-catching environment (and one of the grid’s most famous and stunning destinations) – and which offers something “extra” in the way of fun (blasting clays out of the sky), Angel Manor park could be just the ticket. And don’t forget – there is the manor and its public grounds awaiting exploration as well!

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A Bay of Dreams on Second Life

Bay of Dreams; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrBay of Dreams – click any image for full size

Bay of Dreams is the Full region home of Valor Poses Mainstore and Photo Sim, operated by Keegan Kavenagh (AlexCassidy1), and designed on his behalf by inertia (Caridee Sparta) of Neverfar fame. This latter point alone should have anyone seasoned SL travellers adding Bay of Dreams to their list of places to visit, whether or not they are on the look-out for poses; as with Neverfar (about which you can read more here), the region is an eye-catching and involved design.

No landing point is set within the region, but a good place to start explorations is in the courtyard before the main store, tucked into the south-east corner. A large church style gate stands guard over the store area, separating it from the rest of the region, large gates ready to be opened or closed as required. A teleport board sits just beyond this, offering a choice of 10 destinations for those keen to start seeing the sights. These destinations include both the ground-level store and its skyborne Adult annex – a minor niggle here being there wasn’t (at the time of our visit at least) a TP point to easily get back to ground level from the latter. Also, as the board only delivers you to a location, we’d suggest it is actully better just to use shanks’ pony from the get-go, and explore on foot.

Bay of Dreams; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrBay of Dreams

Veer left from the teleport board, and the route takes you through the ruins of a stone-built structure shouldered on either side by blocks of unhewn rock. Two arches stand at the end of the ruins, one offering a path down to a beach watched over by great trees with trunks bent with age to where a board walk cross shallow water to a smaller island. The other arch offers a path to where two old houses stand  above the beach, each reached by its own steps cut into the living rock. Both appear abandoned, and a rough, grassy path arcs between them, passing round a little copse of trees standing between them.

The larger of these two houses sits with its back to a deep gorge cutting south-to-north through the land, a sandbar at its southern extreme preventing the sea from completely splitting the region. A wreck of an old plane lies on the sandbar, and a path from the smaller of the two abandoned houses offers a route over the rocks above the edge of the gorge to where a set of steps drop down to the beach and ‘plane wreck. Alternatively, a wooden bridge spans the gorge from behind the larger of the two houses, linking it with the broad, stepped plateau on the far side. Here, past the windmill and tree house, up the wooden steps and with a little scrambling over rocks, you might find yourself at the front door of the largest house on the island, looking imperiously down at the rest of the scene.

Bay of Dreams; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrBay of Dreams

A second bridge, wide and gated two-thirds of the way along its length, spans another watery charm splitting the land. It offers the way to a grassy shoulder of rock where visitors can either opt to go by way of log bridges down to a secluded beach and beach house, or use a switch back path cut into the rock to descend to where the wrecked aeroplane awaits.

The smaller island to the north-west and mentioned earlier, appears to have once been a centre of commerce. A lighthouse and a huge warehouse rise from the rocky base of the island, vying with one another to be the tallest. Old wharves extend out into the waters from their feet, and two old trawlers are moored in the shallows. But whatever went on here has long since ceased: the buildings are decaying slowly, the wharves falling apart, the waters beneath them fast becoming choked and overgrown with grass and weeds, while falling trunks of great fir trees now pin the old boats under their weight.

Bay of Dreams; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrBay of Dreams

Whether the trees fell due to age, or were cut down might be a matter for debate. However, there is plenty of evidence for them having been brought low by storm and wind to be found elsewhere, while the heavily bent trunks of other trees suggests this is a place subject to extremes in wind, further suggesting it is the elements which are responsible for the damage.

With its rugged outlook, scattering of houses, store and old fishing centre, Bay of Dreams is a visual treat. For those who would like to tarry a while, there are numerous places to sit – indoors and out – to be found, and for photographers, rezzing rights can be enjoyed on joining the local group, although you might want to twiddle with Windlights.  Our thanks to Shakespeare and Max for pointing it out to us!

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