An Endless: Birdlings Flat in Second Life

Endless: Birdlings Flat, July 2022 – click any image for full size

It was back to Endless:, the Full private region held by Sombre Nyx for me recently to witness her latest design inspired by a physical world location. For this build she has turned to the southern hemisphere, and a country for which I have a certain fondness; for reasons I’ll not bore you with here.

Birdlings Flat takes its name from a settlement in Canterbury, New Zealand, at the eastern end of Kaitorete Spit and the southern end of Lake Forsyth, where the lake discharges to the sea. It’s a place of rugged natural beauty named for the Birdling family, the first European settlers to farm the area.

Endless: Birdlings Flat, July 2022

In her About Land notes, Sombre describes the setting thus:

Inspired by a small and isolated coastal settlement in the South Island of New Zealand, Birdlings Flat offers wide vistas, unkempt fields, a pebbled coastline strewn with driftwood, a sprinkling of science, and a chance to find stillness.

However, prior to the arrival of William Birdling and his family, the area was called Te Mata Hapuku, with Birdlings Flat nowadays used to specifically in reference to the  pebble beach on the ocean side of Kaitorete Spit, a location well known as a place to find small agates and a variety of other attractive rounded pebbles.

Endless: Birdlings Flat, July 2022

Designated as a rural settlement, the area actually thrived for a time as a centre of farming, even gaining its own branch of the local railway, connecting the area to the nearby town of Lincoln to allow for easier shipment of goods and produce. This line became known as the Little River Line when it was extended to another settlement (called by that name in the 1880s), and while the line was closed in 1962 and the tracks torn up, the route today is known as a public walking and cycling track called the Little River Rail Trail.

Over the years, the area has seen various uses – it is popular for those carrying out coastal studies, and the the waters are known for the presence of significant number so Hector’s dolphins and can be used by southern right whales, while during certain times of the year, fur seals and (occasionally) elephant seals can be found along the pebbled coast.

As well as coastal studies, the area was once used by the University of Canterbury for meteorological studies, the university establishing a weather station there for several years. Birdlings Flat has also been used for launching sub-orbital sounding rockets, using the US-built Arcas (All-Purpose Rocket for Collecting Atmospheric Soundings) system. These launches also fall under the prevue of the University of Canterbury, which also established a radar station in the area to monitor rocket flights and the airspace around the launch area.

Endless: Birdlings Flat, July 2022

The latter forms a part of Sombre’s build, which encapsulates the small, rural nature of the location and its tiny community (in 2018, the local population was just 195) whilst also capturing the rugged nature of the landscape and life along this coastal area  simply but perfectly. It’s not a setting one needs to wax lyrical about, because it speaks very eloquently for itself, and exploration and photography within it are both a delight.

However, in order to reach Birdlings Flat, visitors must go via the region’s Landing Point, and this once again presents visitors with the opportunity to visit not one, but two settings within the region. This is because Sombre is once again joined by Jackson Cruyff, who offers people the chance to visit his Forest.

Occupying a sky platform some 2,000m above the ground-level setting of Birdlings Flat, Forest presents a wooded environment somewhat mindful of the North American continent rather than anywhere antipodean; a place left to the wilds and where assorted animals and wildfowl might be found wandering and / or circling over head. It’s a place where people can simply roam and find refuge, and also – for those who look – places to sit and contemplate.

Endless: Birdlings Flat, July 2022

Two easy-on-the eye settings; one offering a rich depth of background on one of the more remote parts of the physical world few of us are likely to have the opportunity to visit.

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Pemberley: beauty and music in Second Life

Pemberley, December 2021 – click any image for full size

You won’t find Fitzwilliam Darcy waiting to host you at Pemberley, the Full region in Second Life held by Jude Mortensen and NataliaLinn. Nor, to be honest, will you find any grand manor house ready to captivate your gaze from afar, or signs of the gardens and English countryside across which  Elizabeth Bennet first caught sight of the house.

What you will find, however, is a public region landscaped by Dandy Warhlol (Terry Fotherington) that presents a rich rural environment  dusted in snow, surrounded by icy mountains, and watched over by the remnants of what might have been a once great manor – or, possibly, a fortified house or even a church.

Pemberley, December 2021
It is Pemberley, but not of old, time has passed, and the land has grown wild, and yet the magic lives on at Pemberley.

from Pemberley’s About Land description

The latter stands to the south of the region, on a table of rock that forms the main highlands for the setting but which is cut off from it via an narrow, stream-like channel that connects the east and west sides of the region’s surrounding water. Whilst rocks and debris offer various points where this little channel can be crossed, the primary means of doing so is via two bridges, one to the east and one to the west.

Pemberley, December 2021

It is the former – eastern – bridge that offers the most direct way up to the ruins. Constructed of stone, it links the snowy slope leading up the the broad steps of the ruins with a rutted road that meanders northwards to connect with the farms, homesteads, smaller ruins and other structures along the east and north side of the region on slightly elevated land. The core of the island remains mostly low-lying, a mix of small fields, outhouses, ruins and fences, interspersed with trees, shrubs and spaces where horses can roam.

The landing point to the region sits within these lowlands, lying towards the north-east. Its position means that explorers have the opportunity to freely choose where they want to go within the region. Paths are available that lead to various locations in the region, such as the little shingle beach on the east side, or the broader sandy beach to the north-west, and which comes complete with a rocky overlook, or the western cove with its old lighthouse. There’s also the promontory running between cove and water channel to reach a more recent lighthouse (with its own little footbridge connecting it with the slopes below the manor house ruins).

Pemberley, December 2021

But to return to the main ruins on the island. These form a point of interest not just for there visual impressiveness and photogenic nature, but also because they are the venue for the region’s music events. Details of these can be found both on the Pemberley website, as and when they are announced, or within the region’s event calendar. However, given this is New Year’s Eve, here are some highlights for those looking for something to do to celebrate, here’s some highlights:

  • Friday, December 31st:
    • 18:00-20:00 SLT – D.J. Mist.
    • 20:00-21:00 SLT – Samm Qendra live.
    • 21:00-23:00 SLT – D.J. Cati.
  • Saturday, January 1st, 2022:
    • 15:00-16:00 SLT – Fly Kugin live
  • Tuesday, January 4th, 2022:
    • 13:00-14:00 SLT – Tay live.

Pemberley, December 2021
The direct SLurl to the events space is provided at the end of this article. In the meantime, the region offers an engaging environment with many opportunities for photography. It also – at the landing point – presents visitors with the opportunity to join The Nature Collective group, described as:

The Nature Collective is a Second Life group created with the goal of cultivating a community around sims, spaces and projects which share a common focus on nature and nature conservation/preservation. It is our hope to foster a movement to help people engage and reconnect with the wonder and joy of nature, in the virtual world and beyond.

Click the poster on the the wall at the landing point for more information on the group. And for me – I’ll see you in 2022, when I’ll be resuming my travels through Second Life.

Pemberley, December 2021

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Note that Pemberley is rated Moderate

Hera’s Drune Giger City in Second Life

Drune Giger City, December 2021 – click any image for full size

Hera (Zee9) forwarded an invitation to visit the latest iteration of her Drune City design – Drune Giger City – which she has just opened on the ground level of her region.

If you read the name “Giger” and think of the late Swiss artist, Hans Ruedi (H.R.) Giger, perhaps most famous for his work on the original Alien film (with elements of his work – notably the alien itself – being used in the subsequent films in the franchise), you’d be absolutely right; this is a build that openly draws inspiration from Giger and his work – not just the Alien franchise, but also other elements of his extensive portfolio as well.

Drune Giger City, December 2021

The city is reached via Hera’s main landing point, where a brief introduction to the setting can be obtained, using a poster-sized teleport board to complete a journey down to the city proper. Before making the trip ourselves, I would point out a couple of things: make sure you accept the local environment settings for the region and that you have Advanced Lighting Model enabled, and do be advised that in taking its lead from Giger, the region is in places somewhat explicit in some of its elements.

The city retains the general layout found within the various iterations of Drune, but this time under a distinctly alien sky. However, this does not mean the buildings are in any way derivative of earlier iterations. As I’ve noted before when writing about her work, Hera goes to extraordinary lengths with her designs, using her own meshes and textures – and this is very much the case here. As such, I do recommend spending time and looking around carefully, as there is a lot of Giger-esque details to be appreciated, not all of them at first obvious to the eye.

Drune Giger City, December 2021

The city’s landing point again takes the form of a docking / landing station for aerial vehicles to one side of the cit. It is home to an alien vehicle, potentially a single-seat spacecraft, entirely of Hera’s own design but entirely in keeping with Giger’s approach to design.  The walkway from this landing area gives the first direct example of the richness of Hera’s texturing: the mural is clearly homage to Giger’s bass relief style of art. This is continued through the outer walls of the buildings, the streets and elevator doors that provide teleport access to street-level in the city.

The streets themselves undulate around the buildings, here and there offering exits to the road that runs around the exterior of the city. The architecture of the buildings carries more of the Giger bass relief style of texturing, together with stronger hints of his work: xenomorph heads extending gargoyle-like above covered walkways, and strangely designed oval doorways that have the edge of genitalia to them  – and these doorways / tunnel entrances are not the only sexualised elements.


Drune Giger City, December 2021

Scattered across the city and its surrounds are further suggestive elements – phallic growths and extrusions in the hills around the city (offering hints of Giger’s Landscape series), more obvious references to female genitalia on what look to be some form of machinery, a refreshment stand offering drinks from nipple-like dispensers. This vendor also offers novel seating – the “eggs” from which one of  Giger’s Facehuggers once leapt and made a mess of John Hurt’s day. More of these eggs are laid out along an alleyway – with one open, so be careful when looking inside!

In keeping with past Drune cities, this one again features a night club. With more phallic elements, this also includes something of a homage to the holographic navigation systems used by the Engineers of the Alien films, while the interior as a whole has a Giger-like fluidity to it, with a further sexual undertone that goes beyond the phallic elements.

Drune Giger City, December 2021

Across the road from the club is a small lounge bar (replacing the hotel that has been present in some earlier iterations of Drune) where the sheer beauty of Hera’s work is on full display in a form that not only encompasses clear inspiration from H.R. Giger, but also to one or two sci-fi franchises.

This latter might be coincidental, but for me, it looking at the figurehead between the pair of xenomorphs, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the death mask used in the opening sequence of the first season of Stargate SG-1, with the patterns on the walls a little mindful of hieroglyphs and runes often seen in that series. Elsewhere, the bar setting that first seen (I believe) in Drune: Sleazy Street has been give a perfect redress to further enhances the further Giger / Alien vibe.

Drune Giger City, December 2021

Atmospheric, strange – yet familiar, alien – yet identifiable, and rich in detail, Drune Giger City might be a little discomfiting for some given some of the sexual motifs present, but that does not change the fact it is another work of art from Hera. So, if you have a love of her work and / or of H.R. Giger and / or sci-fi, this is a build not to be messed.

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A visit to a Scarlett Hotel in Second Life

DRD: The Scarlett Hotel, December 2021 – click any image for full size

If you are seeking something different from a winter-themed region might want to pay a visit to The Scarlett Hotel, a full region designed by Jaimy Hancroft and the Death Row Designs (DRD) team – although you may need to do so before the end of December 31st, 2021, as I’m been informed (unofficially) that that is when the little adventures on the region may draw to a close).

The setting offers what might be taken as a coastal township caught in the midst of winter, snow lying so heavy on the ground, a snow plough is required to keep the local streets clear, and even the local fishing wharves sit under the snow’s thick blanket. Dominating this township is the eponymous hotel, its broad front carrying a certain similarity to the Overlook Hotel from Kubrick’s The Shining (or if you prefer, the Stanley Hotel, Colorado, which was used for many of the exterior shots of the hotel seen in that film).

DRD: The Scarlett Hotel, December 2021

Not only does the hotel give its name to the region, it is the location for a set of adventures that set this winter setting apart from others. There are 12 in all that visitors to the region are invited to participated in; and those who complete all 12 can earn a reward. In all there are 12 individual adventures – or stories – in which people can participate, and completing all 12 will reward people with a prize.

For those who do wish to participate in the quest, the best way to do so is to touch the Tutorial sign mounted on the wall of the landing point. This offer the opportunity to visit a browser-based tutorial (and also a web page of general rules), which forms a fairly good guide to getting started. The key points of this is that you must accept the local DRD experience and join the DRD group. Both of these actions can be achieved at the landing point. However, if you have problems with getting an invitation to join the experience (as I did), you can go to Me / Avatar in the viewer menu bar, click on Experiences → Search, make sure the search maturity is set to Moderate and search for “DRD Experience” (no quotes); this should display the experience name – double-click on it to open the experience profile, then click on Allow to join it. You’re then ready to obtain the game HUD.

DRD: The Scarlett Hotel, December 2021

Once players are set, the next stage is to head for the hotel and trigger a story. This is done by finding a story introduction – which is displayed in local chat (generally at the entrance to a room), and then clicking around objects and surfaces (including drawer and cupboards) to find the start point – once you have done so, the active story/ies (you can have more than one active at a time) will be indicated by a gear icon in the checklist of the HUD.

The recent history of the kitchen is a sad and tragic one. In 2002, an excited young chef from France named Claire Ménard started her career right here at the Scarlett Hotel. Her dishes that she wrote in her personal recipe book were fresh, new, and exquisite, but Head Chef Ernest Cunningham was not a fan. He was well respected in the culinary world and didn’t take well to a newcomer changing his beloved menu. It is reported that he was quick to temper and abusive with staff. Ever since The Accident, there have been reports of banging noises coming from inside the walk-in freezer…

– An introduction to one of the stories from The Scarlett Hotel

DRD: The Scarlett Hotel, December 2021

However, even for those not interested in the adventures, the region offers opportunities for photography and the introductions to the various stories to do tend to whet the appetite.

So, if you do fancy something a little different when exploring, why not check into the Scarlett Hotel and see if you can solve some of the mysteries there – or just and a wander and take a few snaps? Just make sure you do so before the end of 2021, just in case the rumour I heard is right, and  things change.

DRD: The Scarlett Hotel, December 2021

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A trip to the North Pole in Second Life

North Pole – A Beautiful Christmas Escape, December 2021 – click any image for full size

So, with Christmas Day having arrived, and a tummy full of Christmas dinner, I decided to pay a visit to the North Pole – after all, Santa comes to visit us on the evening before, so why not drop in on him – perhaps with a mince pie or two? In this case, the North Pole in question is a Full region held by Stormie Frua, and offered for folk to enjoy. It comes packed with places to visit and things to do; a charming winter wonderland that makes for an ideal post-Christmas Day visit.

North Pole – A Beautiful Christmas Escape, December 2021

While it is not enforced, the region’s landing point is located north-east of its centre, and is the best place to start explorations. It is here that the local greeter will offer a note card of principal points of interest so those who are short of time can see them all  via the included landmarks – but I do recommend making time so you can explore on foot, as there is a lot to see and appreciate – and a certain amount of magic to discover.

North Pole – A Beautiful Christmas Escape, December 2021

Just down from the landing point is the first of those points of interest: the local pond. Frozen over, it is ideal for skating and is surrounded by places to enjoy a hot drink. In addition various paths wind through the snows of the region, passing under tree and over bridge as they lead visitors onwards.

One of these paths runs westward to reach the region’s docks and their little hamlet, all of which is open to exploration. To the east, the land rises, and paths climb rocky slopes. They pass by way of snuggle spots and cabins to arrive at a rocky, tree-crown peak with a further snuggle spot awaits, together with a zipline back into the region for those who dare.

North Pole – A Beautiful Christmas Escape, December 2021

Climbing these eastern hills, visitors might also find the entrances to the touches of fantasy within the region. These take the form of a winding carven, its entrance half-way up the slopes, and a garden that can be reached either through the cavern or via a second path. Set behind a rocky arch, it sits as a place free from snow and awash with green and flowers, with faerie and deer and ruins: an oasis of colour in the whiteness of the rest of the region.

I should point out that the region also contains private homes dotted around it, so some care should be taken during wanderings to avoid trespass; but these are easy to identify when following the paths around the region’s centre. Needless to say, this is a place with multiple opportunities for photography throughout, accentuated by the default EEP setting, which really is ideal.

North Pole – A Beautiful Christmas Escape, December 2021

So, if you’re looking for a winter setting in which to relax and enjoy so post-Christmas (or pre-New Year!) time, then a visit to the North Pole is highly recommended.

My thanks to Shawn Shakespeare for the SLurl.

North Pole – A Beautiful Christmas Escape, December 2021

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A new BarDeco in Second Life

Sainte Rose sur Mer & BarDeco, December 2021 – December 2021

It was in 2016 that I first visited a build by Dandy Warhlol (terry Fotherington), then working with Belle des Champs (Bridget Genna), carrying the name of BarDeco. As a setting for music and socialising (see: Visiting the Village in Second Life), I enjoyed exploring it then, and went on to fall in love with the bar in its 2017 iteration (see A break for coffee in Second Life) – so much so, that with Dandy and Bridget’s permission, I took inspiration for a bar design of my own back in 2018-2019.

BarDeco continued through different iterations of the years, but with Dandy’s region design abilities being in much demand of late, it has been – for me – a much missed destination. Which is why, when Vally Lavender-Ericson (Valium Lavender) set me the Landmark, I made a point of dropping in as soon as time allowed.

Sainte Rose sur Mer & BarDeco, December 2021

Occupying a parcel within a Full private region, Sainte Rose sur Mer & BarDeco offers a refreshing break from the current round of winter-themed regions by presenting visitors with a little corner of Mediterranean France with a beach to the southern aspect, and a little east-facing cove dominated by building-sized lump of rock that – being honest – had me regretting the beach didn’t didn’t continue along the coast from the south, and a coastal, almost rustic corner of a town built around BarDeco itself, that offer little walks and corners to explore.

The landing point sits on the east side of the parcel, overlooking the rocky little cove on a stone-faced wharf / piazza. This faces the entrance to BarDeco club space, the façade of which carried elements seen with the 2017 design I fell in love with.

Sainte Rose sur Mer & BarDeco, December 2021

Passing through the archway into the club space reveals that it has been set within an open-air courtyard surrounded on three sides by the ruins  or rear aspects of buildings, and the forth by its front façade. One of the latter includes a neat little balcony that overlooks the courtyard and makes for a neat little bird’s nest for the DJ. Facing it across the courtyard and under the shade of one of the ruins, sits the bar, its design again recalling earlier iterations of BarDeco through design and décor, whilst remaining unique.

A neat aspect of the club is that one corner opens out into what looks to have once been gardens. Now overgrown with wildflowers. It forms a charming – perhaps even romantic walk, or even a little place for a romantic dance or two – that offers a means to reach the rest the setting, reached by way of stone steps leading to a small terrace, and gates pointing the way to to the southern sea-front.

Sainte Rose sur Mer & BarDeco, December 2021

Here, on a raised waterfront overlooking the beach, are the local businesses. They are presented as façades which help keep the land impact under control whilst presenting a sense of place – added-to by the back alley that offers a further taste of realism for photography as well as giving a link back to the landing point by way of a little bridge. Again, this would perhaps be a little more quaint if the bridge and the water under it were more connected to the cove rather than being caught between that block of rock; but as it is, the design still works.

My other minor niggle is that sitting in the north-west corner of the setting sits what is already a delightful little walled garden corner – but without direct access. It would be nice to see it finished and an means of accessing it was provided – even if at the cost of some of the LI used for some of the elements around the “upper” level of the club – many of which probably wouldn’t be noticed by those hopping in for the entertainment anyway.

Sainte Rose sur Mer & BarDeco, December 2021

But again, this is just a minor point; there’s no mistaking BarDeco offers an eye-catching venue for music and dancing, and the surrounding build of Sainte Rose sur Mer offers plenty of photographic opportunities, making the setting deserving of a visit.

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