A Binemust winter in Second Life

White Binemust, December 2020

I’m rounding out my 2020 region explorations with a return trip to Biné Rodenberger’s Binemust, which Caitlyn and I last visited in September. At that time, the region was dressed as a representation of Bungenäs, a region of Sweden’s largest island, Gotland (see: Bungenäs at Binemust in Second Life).

That design is still available at ground level, but for Winter 2020/21 Biné has added a sky platform – White Binemust. As its name suggests, this is a place dressed as a winter setting that is nicely Scandinavian is style, whilst also lending itself as a snowy setting from almost any suitable mountainous region in snowy latitudes.

White Binemust, December 2020

Blending seamlessly with a snow-capped and off-region mountain range on all sides, the platform offers a richly wooded environment – a familiar element within Biné ‘s designs, both and above water level, as she has often demonstrated an imaginative use of space within her region that has included woods and copses below sea level as well as on  land -, the setting sits under a lowering sky that suggests a lot of snow is awaiting the opportunity to fall on top of that which has already settled.

The woods hide the fact that this is setting of two levels. The upper, home to the majority of the woodland, also forms the landing point for this winter setting, sitting as it does close to a junction of pathways visitors are free to follow. One of these, marked by an avenue of arched trees, leads to a snow-bound country chapel, an icy path links the chapel with a glass and steel igloo, both of which are watched over by an unexpected guardian: and oriental-style flying dragon.

Binemust, December 2020

A second path leads to a large house overlooking the lower aspect of the region (of which more anon). Of a modern, clean design, with large windows and cosily furnished, the house is suited to this snowy location, and appears to be open for visitors to explore – as do all the buildings to be found with White Binemust. The icy path running to the house ends in a circular pond, its surface frozen, revealing the smooth path may itself be a stream caught beneath the ice. A small cabin sits close by the pond; in warmer days it might form a summer house converted from a greenhouse; for now it presents a cosy den / bar.

A tiny cabin and a shed offering Christmas trees round-out the high-level section of the platform. Below them, reached via a path than descends via a line of steps, and a more open space, the woodland ending at a line of trees at the foot of the slope, having marched down it to meet a rutted track that follows the contours of the hill.

Binemust, December 2020

The selection of buildings here – focused on another clean design of a wood-framed ranch house –  has the feel of a farm caught in the depths of winter about it. Shaggy highland cattle graze in a fences field, a wagon of hay close-by should the snow overcome the grass of the field. Across the snow and ice sits and A-frame cabin, perhaps offered as a holiday home by those who own the farm. Sitting outside of it is a little snowman offering a reminder of a more unpleasant aspect of this past year.

Although sitting below the landing point, the farm and its buildings art nestled on the edge of a mountain valley, one suggestive of being formed in the ancient past by the passage of glacier that encountered a hard table of rock that forced it to split, giving rise to the plateau on which the setting is located.

White Binemust, December 2020

It is within this valley, visible from the large glass frontage of the farmhouse, that another of one of Binemust’s iconic elements can be found: the wreck of a Viking long ship. It’s a piece Biné uses as an emblem for her designs, a visualisation of her Norse / Scandinavian heritage.

While there are touches of Christmas to be found within the setting – decorated trees (one of them of a most interesting design), lights festooning tree branches and so on. However, this is far more a delightful winter setting than Christmas focused, thus it offer an ideal seasonal visit with which to see out the year (as it did for me) or as a winter setting in which to see in the new.

White Binemust, December 2020

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Capturing some still memories in Second Life

The Isle of Elar, December 2020; click any image for full size

Second Life blogger and photographer Rig Torok led me to Shayn Mackenzie’s Full region, The Isle of Elar, for what will be one of my last region visits for 2020.

With life being what it is right now thanks to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic refusing to to leave us alone and limiting opportunities for physical world interactions and getting out and about, coupled with various personal matters that have left me feeling I could do with time in the outdoors, wandering unknown paths under boughs heavy with leaves, The Isle of Elar proved to be just the ticket.

The Isle of Elar, December 2020

Rugged and split by streams fed by waterfalls, with rocky plateaus, shingle and sandy beaches, woodland trails and open spaces, cabins and ruins, deer and rabbits – and even a dragon awaiting discovery – the region genuinely offers something for everyone to appreciate – blogger, photographer, explorer or someone looking for a little space and / or peace a quiet.

From the landing point on the north side of the region, a path cuts its way south, apparently heading directly to the southern coast of the region before peeling off to cross the two streams via wooden footbridges. It presents the most direct means to start any exploration of the region, and a horse rezzer just off of the track presents a means of transportation for those who prefer exploring without necessarily relying on the use of their own pedal extremities.

The Isle of Elar, December 2020

However, it is not the only path to take; others are awaiting discovery, winding their way to numerous places of interest, be it old chapel ruins among the trees or a farm shop with camp site or garden chair overlooking the ocean, a greenhouse overlooking the main trail, a walled garden, and steps and an elevator that wind and lead their way up the rocky highlands of the region. All of these, and more besides, await visitors.

This is a place rich a detail, obvious and subtle. Some of the more obvious I’ve noted above. The more subtle include a little faerie garden, complete with magical ring, sings of various kinds awaiting discovery, a highland bench watched over by a friendly weasel, a raft in a little cove, rabbits enjoying the peace of the old chapel and the aforementioned dragon. All of this is supported by a fitting sound scape that encourages relaxation when making use one of the many places to sit waiting to be found throughout the setting.

The Isle of Elar, December 2020

The wealth of detail available within the region makes it easy to lose oneself during a visit, the sound scape encouraging cares and concerns to slip away, or to reminisce – hence the Still Memories part of the region’s name – whilst bringing to life the promise of its About Land description:

Elar is a woodland themed region depicting natural beauty all around you, Here you can explore, be romantic, spend time with friends, or take creative photos. 
The Isle of Elar, December 2020

Whether wandering alone or with a loved one, The Isle of Elar makes for an ideal destination, and visitors who take photos are invited to share them via the region’s Flickr group.

Not a destination to miss.

The Isle of Elar, December 2020

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A Dickens of an art display in Second Life

The Dickens Project: Invitational Art Show – CybleMoon and Silas Merlin

The Dickens Project 2020 Edition enters Christmas week with two art exhibitions for visitors to appreciate. Each is located in a different part of the Project’s Victorian townscape, offering those who visit the opportunity to explore the streets and discover more of what the Project has to offer this year.

Located in the church sitting to one side of Dickens Square, the Project’s main landing point, is the Open Art Exhibition, featuring artists who accepted the Project’s invitation to display one or two pieces of art that have created on a Victorian Christmas / Dickensian theme.

The Dickens Project: Open Art Show – VanessaJane68 and Jezzamine2108

In  all, seven artists responded to the invitation, and between them they offer an engaging series of images on the themes. The artists are: Jessamine2108, VanessaJane66, Stevie Morane Basevi, Dawn Greymyst, Banshee Heartsong, Evelyn Held and Vita Theas.

Together their images capture the spirit of The  Dickens Project Past (e.g. Evelyn Held: A View From Dickens Harbour Lighthouse, Jessamine2108: Dickens Harbour), images with a decidedly Victorian feel (VanessaJane68 with Christmas Hall and Tower Lane; Dawn Greymyst: Holiday Preparation), and others with a clear Dickens influence (e.g. Vita Theas: Kids, Evelyn Held, Magic of Christmas Past).

The Dickens Project: The open Art Show – Evelyn Held

All of the pieces are evocative of the period they represent and the Dickens Project theme.

Off to the east side of the town, and between the clock tower and the harbour, sits a warehouse that is home to the Invitational Art Show. Open since the event started (the Open Art exhibition having opened its doors on Friday, December 18th), the participating artists for this exhibition comprise CyebelMoon, Iris Okiddo, Silas Merlin and … Yours Truly. Again, the overarching theme is of reflecting, Dickens, Victorian England and the Dickens project.

The Dickens Project: Invitational Art Show – CybeleMoon

Both Cybele and Iris offer evocative (as always!) pieces, that richly reflect these themes. Within Cybele’s pieces,  entitled Winter Solitudes are a set of marvellous captures of past Dickens Project scenes, beautifully processed such that each encompasses its own story that captures both the romance of Victorian Christmases, and the settings found through The Dickens Project.

Iris, meanwhile, presents her own take on A Christmas Carol, presenting eight images  in which she takes on the role of Ebeniris Scrooge and offers her interpretation of some of the damous scenes from the story. Thus we see her sitting miserly in her cold house, walking with the Ghost of Christmas Present, revisiting her lonely past, glimpsing a possible future, embracing a happier, brighter future (with, I think I’m correct in saying, Skippy Beresford getting a co-starring role), and more; all of the images again richly presented for our enjoyment.

The Dickens Project: Invitational Art Show – Iris Okiddo

Silas offers sculptures both indirectly and directly connected to the Victorian / Dickensian era, including barefooted street urchins, Oliver Twist, and a bust of Charles Babbage. For my part, I’ve offered a series looking back over The Dickens Project builds between 2015 and 2020.

Two engaging exhibitions in a setting that offers much to see and do – see my preview of this year’s Edition of the Project for more on the event.

The Dickens Project: Invitational Arts show – Silas Merlin

Links and SLurls

Note that The Dickens Project regions are rated Moderate. Note that SLurls will be available for use from 07:00 SLT on Friday, December 4th.

A little Swedish inspiration in Second Life

Snoweeta, December 2020

Sitting within a homestead region deep in snow, lays Snoweeta, a charming winter build that is engaging in its simplicity of presentation. Designed by Kaja Ashland, it offers people a little hint of Sweden, specifically taking as its inspiration the southern most county (or län) of Skåne; a place that is a relatively new county within Sweden, having been formed in 1997 – although it is named for the much older historical province of Skåne, from which it takes its coat of arms.

Whether or not Kaja has based the setting on an actual location within Skåne is open to her to tell. However, while it appears to sit on the road linking the small Baltic townships of Ystad and Simrishamn, it is perhaps not where this snowbound setting might actually be that is important, but rather the stories waiting to be found beneath the pale evening sky.

Snoweeta, December 2020

Central to these tales is the farm house sitting at the end of the long drive leading away from the road, the lane forming the region’s landing point. Lit from within, the house offers a sense of warmth and welcome, with the dining table set for dinner – but is it a family dinner, or are visitors anticipated for a gathering of friends? And who uses the garage alongside the main house, converted as it is into a cosy snug, warmed by a log stove? Is it a little work space for readying plants for the garden when spring arrives, or a teenager’s place to get away from Mum and Dad for a while?

Beyond the house are more vignettes around which stories might be woven: just how did the tractor, a vehicle designed for operating over rough ground and muddy fields come to be bogged down whilst returning to the farm? And who is responsible for the boars gathered under the false shelter of the bare tree caught in its own little snowstorm? Are they a part of the farm or wild residents of the area?

Snoweeta, December 2020

Those who prefer not to contemplate such question can instead snuggle up on the benches in the farm’s garden or inside the house or the cosy garage. Or, if preferred, a walk can be taken over the snowy field to where a low hill offers a retreat for trees within the farmlands, its top crowned by a little camp site. Here, a boiling kettle suspended over the flames of a fire, invites people to stop awhile and sup, while down the far slope of the hill is a frozen pond, prompting questions of skating and outdoor fun – although I wouldn’t recommend trying; the pond is beyond the edge of the region.

How far this place might be from either Ystad or Simrishamn is unclear, but the presence of a police car parked on the road’s shoulder (again, beyond the region’s edge) leaves one wondering what has happened to attract the attention of law enforcement – and whether the occupants of the patrol car are sitting in its relative warmth awaiting the arrival of Henning Mankell’s dour-faced Inspector Kurt Wallander,  who might yet be driving his Volvo down the road from Ystad, where he both lives and works.

Snoweeta, December 2020

Simple and attractive in its design, Snoweeta offers an attractively different winter-themed visit.

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Scenes within an Old Town in Second Life

Old Town Winterland, December 2020 – click any image for full size

For those wishing to partake of an extensive Second Life exploration, Old Town by .:Bekks:. (Bekks Heartsong) could be an attractive proposition.

Covering two regions, the Full region of Adagio Breeze, which has the additional 10K land capacity bonus, and the Homestead Isla Amorosa, it is an expansive setting, covering multiple levels, from ground level through several sky platforms  –  and also back under the sea.

Old Town Winterland, December 2020

We started our visit – on the recommendation of Shaun Shakespeare – in the region’s Winterland setting, a place that spans both regions and which, as the name suggests, offers a winter setting, heavy in snow, with more falling from the night sky.

This is a level not only heavy in snow, but also in places to visit and things to do – ice skating on a rink or across a lake, take your pick – or if you prefer, along a sky track that runs around the region, dipping down to greet those wishing to try it alongside the Arctic Express,that sits close to the boundary between the two regions.

Old Town Winterland, December 2020

With the lake covering most of the Homestead region, it is the Full region that offers the majority of the snowy attractions – cabins and cottages where visitors can get toasty in front of roaring fires; carousels, coaches, balloons, sleighs and frozen ponds and little camp sites, all interlinked by winding trails and paths visible through the snow that encourage feet to wander and cameras to roam.

Those not taken by all the walking can take a horse from one of the rezzers and ride through the snow, or simply sit and watch others as they explore – or find themselves under observation by the wildlife also to be found out on the snow and amongst the frosted trees.

Old Town Winterland, December 2020

Also to be found within the setting are a number of teleport globes. These provide access to many of the features to be found within Old Town, some of which are on the Winterland level, others of which sit on other platforms or, as noted, at the ground level or under the waves. These offer more to see, and the chance to get away from winter and visit other places and realms.

For those particularly given to horse riding, there is an Old West destination, for example, while those who missed Halloween can find spooks and ghosts within the Hauntings setting. There’s also a little town waiting to be explored, a bohemian camp (and more) at ground level, and even more to be discovered, including karaoke for those who might enjoy it, and spaces for other music and dancing.

Old Town Winterland, December 2020
Obviously, given the extent of the offerings within the regions, exploration can take time – and so it’s probably best to break down a visit into several trips, rather than overwhelming yourself. However, as the region’s settings are split between different levels, rendering issues aren’t as bad as might be thought for a location that offers so much to see and do, and this further adds to the attractiveness of a visit.

All-in-all well worth taking a look and let your feet wander as they will.

Old Town Winterland, December 2020

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Grauland in December in Second Life

Grauland, December 2020 – click any image for full size

To take a break from scenes of snow and winter, we decided to head over to Grauland and see what region holder JimGarand had put together for December – and as always, we weren’t disappointed with what we found.

Over the years, Jim has never ceased to attract us – and many other visitors – with a series of unique region designs that never fail to offer something new and different, whilst also offering touches that persist between designs to present a sense of continuation from one design to the next.

Grauland, December 2020

With this iteration of the region, that continuance can be found through the maze of rooms and half-rooms last seen in the region’s summer looks, and the ranks of concrete blocks that have appeared in a number of the region’s designs.

The maze of rooms is the first element of the design to be encountered from the landing point, which sits on a pier head that thrusts out into the waters on the west side of the region, a crossed archway forming the walk from the pier head and the maze.

Grauland, December 2020

Beyond the rooms a series of broken walls form a zig-zag walk for those who fancy it – or visitors can go around this to the north, where they’ll encounter a pattern of “portal blocks” – hollow concrete blocks with circular holes in their six sides, inviting people to walk through them, or head southwards where, a little further inland, stands the rows of concrete blocks, standing close to where steps have been cut into the bare rock of an upland table of rock.

These steps lead up to a most unusual tower that rises from a rough table of rock. apparently made of concrete it raises a single square finger into the air which splits at its top into four arms, each forming an individual room leading off of the central stairwell. As a home, it offers a most unique residence – allowing for its outwardly industrial  look. However, here the structure is used as something of an artistic statement – art also being a common theme running through Grauland designs. Each room presents an individual décor from rings of multiple televisions through if not Santa’s grotto, then certain his hi-rise retreat, to a balloon-lovers paradise and a lounge where talking about the elephant in the room is unavoidable.

Grauland, December 2020

The tower is not the only structure on the island. Diagonally opposite it to the north-east and also sitting atop a large plateau, is another concrete building. Octagonal in shape, it appears to have a steeply-sloping, sectionalised roof. It is only on reaching it and taking the tunnel and stairs up into it, can it be seen that the building is actually open to the sky above – although what purpose it might be put to – gallery, event centre or even landing pad for some form of space vehicle – is entirely up to the imagination.

Directly south of of this, and also facing the tower is a large studio house with sunken gardens and swimming pool. The  courtyard around the pool offers both places to sit and sculptures to be appreciated. A small club house is to one side of the courtyard,  a hot tub alongside it, while a A single passage runs directly east to the water’s edge, flanked by further sci-fi elements in the form of strange pods  that offer little studio rooms where visitors can relax.

Grauland, December 2020

Finished in concrete and stone blocks. and with its outside metal stairways, the studio house continues the industrial theme of the setting, but offers comfortable furnishings within, its southern aspect overlooking a small wild flower garden sitting of a shelf of rock between house and sea.

With boats at the landing point, a little an aged and damaged garden shed sitting to the north-west offering a further unusual hideaway, and seating offered throughout, Grauland invites explorers to wander inland and around its rough coastline (rocky outcrops and cliffs allowing, while its low-laying inland mix of blocks, walls (straight and sinuous) offers an artistic statement in its own right.

Grauland, December 2020

Thus, this iteration of Grauland continues the region’s reputation for being an engaging, curious and photogenic visit for all who appreciate exploring Second Life.

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