A gentle November Rain in Second Life

November Rain, November 2022 – click any image for full size

From time-to-time in these pages I’ve asserted that holding a complete region, be it Full or Homestead, is not a prerequisite to being able to design a setting which can be opened for public enjoyment. What matters is not the size of the land held, but the creativeness in using it, and I’ve offered numerous examples of this through these pages: parcels within a region which have been carefully and lovingly curated to present an engaging and inviting place to visit.

Another example of such a location is November Rain, a 4096 sq metre parcel sitting within a Full region, and in which Semina (Semiiina) – Sem to her friends and fans – has established a cosy, atmospheric setting where people can come, explore,  take photos and listen to music.

November Rain, November 2022
Come and explore the autumn themed café: November Rain. Grab an umbrella, take lots of pictures and meet new friends. Curl up with a hot drink in the Café and listen to live music and the sound of autumn rain.

November Rain About Land

I was alerted to the café’s existence by reader Morgana Carter, who IM’d me the SLurl and a note after my recent piece on three Mainland cafés (see The coffee houses of Heterocera in Second Life), suggesting it might be a suitable addition to that series. Whilst clearly not on the Mainland, after visiting November Rain, I had to agree that the setting did deserve being written about (in fact, I’m not alone in this, given the location has recently been featured in the official blog).

Located on a sky platform, this is a setting that doesn’t need a lot of description in terms of exploring and looking out from things; it is small enough to get around easily, and the focal point is obviously the café in terms of where to go.  What I will say is the to appreciate the setting fully, visitors should used the local environment settings (menu World → Environment → Used Shared Environment).

November Rain, November 2022

This is because November Rain is richly atmospheric, the environment settings reinforcing the sense of the month in the Northern Hemisphere, a time when autumn is definitely on the wane, the days are shortening and darkening, the weather is on the turn with rain and leaden skies – but there is also a promise of winter and the romance of snow and starry skies lies just over the horizon, complete with cups of hot chocolate and roaring fires.

The stone-built café sits at the end of a gate path winding through the surrounding trees.  A large sign to one side of the landing point offers links to the expected info on the setting, its guidelines and the opportunity to join the local events group. A link to a calendar of events is also provided, although at the time of my visit this appeared to be largely devoid of dates. Still in bloom, the woodlands around the café offer and assortment of details to discover: a fox curled up sleep here, a reindeer with antlers strung with lights there, a vixen with her cubs sheltering from the rain falling from the evening sky, cats playing on the front porch…

November Rain, November 2022

Inside, the two rooms of the café offer a warm and decidedly cosy setting, the first room offering couch seating and the café’s serving counter with a rich selection of cakes and drinks suitable for the festive season. More seating can be found in the second room, together with a stage for live music sessions and a small dance area underneath the skylight. For those who like the outdoors, a table and chairs can be found under a parasol next to the front door to the café, while back among the trees is a romantic little hideaway.

Compact, rich in detail with plenty of opportunities for photography (limited rezzing available to group members, but please pick up after yourself if you make use of it). November Rain is a delightful visit.

November Rain, November 2022

SLurl Details

The Tranquil Beauty of Oshu in Second Life

Oshu, November 2022 – click any image for full size

It’s fairly well established through the pages of this blog that I have a thing for regions with a Far Eastern design, whether they are intended to offer a Japanese setting, a Chinese setting or a fusion of the two. Learning about such places (particularly if they are intended for public visits, rather than focused on residential settings!) tends to have me reaching for my camera and then mashing the teleport button.

So when Ryū Ojo (Sosaki) sent me an invite to visit her Full region design of Oshu, it moved pretty much to the top of my list of places to visit and start prepping a post about. However, on my arrival I quickly realised that rather than following my usual practice of visiting a region, exploring and writing notes, then returning to later to photograph and blog, this was a place I had to write about immediately – although in fairness to Ryū, she is still working on the final details within the region, so if you do drop in on reading the post around the time it is published and see some unfinished elements – blame me for being too keen to write about it, not Ryū!

Oshu, November 2022

Oshu is Ryū’s first full region build, and she has gone all out with it, opting to use the additional Land Capacity option available to Full private regions. In doing so, she has created what is effectively a tranquil setting cast with a Japanese theme that is completely timeless in nature. When exploring, you feel you could just as easily be in a remote part of modern-day Japan, far removed from the hustle, noise and heat of city life in the modern era as you could setting foot into a feudal province in the country’s Edo period. However, also awaiting discovery are elements which offer visitors a touch of fantasy and of futurism.

No formal landing point hand been set at the time of my visit, although Ryū indicated to me one would eventually be set, complete with a welcome area, so things many change in this regard when you visit when compared to the description of  my explorations below. That said, my wanderings commenced in the north-east uplands of the setting, where a board meadow backs itself against the off-region surround.

Oshu, November 2022

This is the first indication of the care Ryū has been taking in designing the region, carefully blending it along the northern edge and to the west and east with the surround, giving the impression that the region is part of a greater landscape, one rising to high mountain peaks as can be found throughout the islands of Japan, their foothills blanket in rich woodlands.

This meadow is itself a place of mystery; great standing stones lie within the shade of autumnal Japanese maples, their general colour and look suggesting then have been hewn from the rock strata running through the region (including thrusting up through the grasslands of the meadow), but who may have roughly formed and erected them is a mystery. Upslope from the meadow, and backed by a ridge of rock, is a stone arch. Perhaps it may have once been part of a larger structure with some connection with the standing stones, although its carved nature suggests that it is of later origins than the standing stones. Lit by a shimmering green light, it is in fact an experience-based portal offering a connection with Naruru Bay, a modern-era role-play-focused Homestead region.

Oshu, November 2022

The core of the region is focused on a small settlement surrounded by trees. At the time of my visit, these were still being furnished, with the largest being built over a pond, falls to one side allowing the water to tumble to a smaller pond and thence over larger falls which step there way down over southern cliffs to where a channel meanders out to the south-side bay.

This settlement is an utterly tranquil location, the trees shading it from the Sun (and hiding it from view), the paths and terraces linking the houses to Zen gardens,  and bridges spanning the waters, all watched over by dragons either made of bronze or flying free. As well as its sense of serenity, the settlement contains the greatest sense of timelessness within the region, while a long stone stairway descends the slope below the west side Zen garden, pointing the way down to the southern bay and a temple of light built out over the waters.

Oshu, November 2022

Time should be spent exploring the region, as it offers many points of interest and detail. Wildlife and domestic animals can be found throughout, as well as elements of fantasy – the aforementioned dragon, a kitsune statue and, for those who seek it out, a hidden secret.

The latter is not easy to find, but it lies beneath the settlement: a series of tunnels winding down to a series of caverns where huge fungi grow, and a path might be found passing from cavern to cavern to eventually come to two pairs of doors. At the time of my visit, the entrance to these tunnels came by way of passing through a tall curtain of water and then carefully treading between it and another; however, Ryū noted to me this may change.

Oshu, November 2022

However, these tunnels further contain another aspect of the timeless mix within the region: the tunnels leading down to the caverns appear to have been cut suing modern tools and are lit by electric lights, suggesting they were made using tools of a later era than the Edo looks of the settlement. The caverns, meanwhile have that sense of fantasy, whilst the pairs of double doors take visitors into a sci-fi like set of rooms of unknown purpose (again, at least at the time of my visit).

For a first-time Full region build, Oshu is engaging and richly detailed and something for which Ryū should be justifiably proud. Primarily designed for photographer / explorers, Ryū also indicated to me it might also offer some degree of role-play (possibly connected to Naruru Bay  given the presence of the portal), although time will likely tell on this. In the meantime, this is a destination well worth visiting, and which I hope Ryū will submit to the Destination Guide when she is happy with the design, so that it might be appreciated by folk from across SL.

Oshu, November 2022

SLurl Details

  • Oshu (rated: Moderate)

The Snows of Where Our Journey Begins in Second Life

Where Our Journey Begins, November 2022 – click any image for full size

Following a suggestion from Suzie Anderton, I jumped back to Vivian Ewing’s Where Our Journey Begins, which I last visited back towards the start of the year to catch its 2022 wintertime dressing once more.

Back in February, the setting was blooming into an early spring and offered an engaging mix of places to explore among the trees and flowers as they threw a rich palette of colour across the region. Now, with the closing of the year, the setting is very much folded in a blanket of winter snow and seasonal elements in readiness for the coming holidays and celebrations.

Where Our Journey Begins, November 2022

Visits commence at the main landing point in the south-east corner of the region, the land stretching away to the north-west, a large ribbon lake crossing it diagonally from south-west to north-east. The latter is shouldered at its northern extremes by a curtain of rock to one side, similar to the curtain cliffs backing the landing point and possibly part of the same upward thrust of rock, and on the other by a plateau crowned but winter cabins.

From the landing point beneath the great iron gazebo in which it sits, visitors have a choice of exploration routes by which to discover the rest of the setting. Turn right a short walk from the gazebo, and the path leads to snowy box hedgerows enclosing an small terrace. A path from here runs down to the water’s edge to one side of the region, whilst a second points north, passing a corral where horses are held and a rezzer is available should you wish to explore the region on horseback, before the path branches once more.

Where Our Journey Begins, November 2022

Take the left arm of the fork, and the way is clear to wander along the southerly shore of the lake and even reach its icy surface. Places to sit and rest can be found along this route, ranging from a little campsite through water’s edge gazebo warmed by a log fire to a cosy little hut standing within sight of a high bridge spanning the lake – of which more anon.

Meanwhile, the right arm of the fork quickly crosses a covered bridge spanning the banks of a little stream – also frozen – to reach a fenced trail which also skirts the lake as it runs up and around the north-east head of the waters.  From here, it runs onwards and westwards, passing over steps and between gates to reach the local (and festive!) village snuggled under the aforementioned plateau. Rides and seasonal kiosks have been set out on the village square, the lights of the houses glowing brightly beyond before the sheer face of the rocky highlands intervene between village and hilltop cabins.

Where Our Journey Begins, November 2022

The latter are reached via a further route of exploration leading away from the landing point. It sits beyond the snow-frosted gates at the end of the path leading outwards from the landing point gazebo, and a snow-dusted path meanders upwards through hoar-frosted trees to where an unexpected sight awaits: Santa’s cabin, complete with the jolly old man sitting outside, his elves keeping things moving. Flagstones arc their way around the cabin to lead to the bridge mentioned above and, across it, a single-track road providing access to the cabins.

Fully furnished and separated from the rest of the region as they are, these cabin offer their own setting and opportunities for photography both indoors and out.

Where Our Journey Begins, November 2022

This latter point is what makes this iteration of Where Our Journey Begins; while the region comes together as a single setting, it is laid out in such a way as to offer multiple little vignettes offering their own opportunities for enjoyment and photography, all rich in detail and with enough space between them so as visitors needn’t feel as if they are tripping over one another as the explore.

As with previous iterations of Where Our Journey Begins, Snowtide – as this version has been called – is a genuine delight to visit. My thanks to Suzie again for the pointer.

Where Our Journey Begins, November 2022

SLurl Details

The Blue Pond of Second Life

Aoi-ike, November 2022 – click any image for full size

Jade Koltai has opened a new region design in the tradition of the work she started with the late (and still missed) Serene Footman. It offers a personal interpretation of Japan’s famous Blue Pond  (青い池, Aoi-ike), located in the country’s second-largest island, Hokkaidō.

Occupying a homestead region, Aoi-ike presents the pond in the depths of winter, offering visitors a setting blanketed in snow to explore and plenty of opportunities for suitable time-of-year photographs. Pride of place is given to the pond itself, the waters the rich azure blue of the original, albeit caught beneath a cloud-laden sky.

Aoi-ike, November 2022 – click any image for full size

The physical world Blue Pond is entirely artificial, the result of work intended to protect the town of Biei following the December 1988 through March 1989 eruptions of Mount Tokachi. These caused a series of pyrrolastic events and associated mudflows which threatened the town, so following them, a series of dams were built to prevent future eruption-generated mudflows which might use the Biei River as a root through the locale.

In doing so, the dam trapped the water of the Shirahage waterfall, a series of falls passing over a cliff rich in aluminium to reach the river. This aluminium, coupled with volcanic sulphates in the water which whiten the rocks on the bed of the pond and so heightening their light-reflecting nature, gives the water of the pond its distinctive blue sky colour.

Aoi-ike, November 2022 – click any image for full size

This unlikely colour is not the only interesting feature of the lake; the plants present also participate in the surreal atmosphere of the place. While the pond is surrounded by living trees, in the middle there are skeletons of larch and birch that once grew on the ground before the formation of the pond. These trees are also present in Jade’s build, although the upriver falls are understandably absent.

Blended with a region surround that helps represent the surrounding mountains (the region around Biei is famous for a mountainous hiking trail that loops between Mount Tokachi and the (slightly) smaller Mount Biei as it sits between the Biei and Shintoku townships). While this loop is too big to recreate in a region, it is possible to circumnavigate the pond on foot along both trails and open ground – although if you have a wearable horse, the setting is also ideal for horse riding.

Aoi-ike, November 2022 – click any image for full size

The lightly wooden and most flat land is heavy in snow and light on structures – the latter comprising a Finnish-style suoja, a metal watchtower, a covered bridge, a little Japanese hut, and a flat-roofed cabin. Cosily furnished, the cabin offers the best respite from the snow and cold, the décor continuing the Japanese theme very nicely. The souja offers a small retreat with a comfy bed and the bridge includes a trio of theatre-like chairs warmed by a heater and where those using them can have a hot cup of tea.

Perhaps the most unusual feature in the setting is located on its northern edge, a short walk from the landing point. It takes the form of a large stone sculpture of a cat seated on a stone plinth and backed by a lower stone wall. It appears a little shrine-like in nature (if a big shrine!), and adds an interesting twist of character to the setting.

Aoi-ike, November 2022 – click any image for full size

Wildlife can be found scattered across the region – deer, owls, bear, cranes, weasels, and black swans – although some might need a little seeking out in order to spot. Also waiting to be found are further places to sit outside of those already mentioned: benches, deck chairs, and so on.

Easy to explore, reflective of the location that inspired it without being heavily tied it it, Aoi-ike presents an engaging winter setting for people to enjoy, entirely free from the more usual “seasonal” trappings generally found in winter-themed reasons at this time of year.

Aoi-ike, November 2022 – click any image for full size

SLurl Details

  • Aoi-ike (Overland Hills, rated Moderate)

The coffee houses of Heterocera in Second Life

Le’eaf and Tinsel Café, Heterocera – November 2022

Exploring Second life – particularly the Mainland continents – can be thirsty work. Fortunately there are often spots along the way that people have provided for the enjoyment of refreshments and a little sit-down.

Coffee is often the beverage of choice (although with the northern hemisphere winter and the holiday season approaching, hot chocolate is liable to start rivalling it as an option!), and that’s just fine with me, as I’m a genuine coffeeholic / coffee snob in the physical world :).

Take Heterocera as an example. Like all of the mainland continents it has plenty to see, particularly along its road and rail network – although the former is generally the easier way to spot public places awaiting visitors. I’m not going to try to offer an extensive review of all the cafés across the continent in this piece, instead, I’ll cover a trio I’ve enjoyed dropping into on occasion.

Le’eaf and Tinsel Café, Heterocera – November 2022

The first comes on the north side of the continent and, given its latitude and the time of year, is appropriately dressed for winter. Snuggled against the southern side of Route 3’s north-eastern curve, Le’eaf and Tinsel is reached via a short climb up a set of stone steps from the side of the highway.

Snow crunches softly under your feet as you wander the white dusted trails. Among the trees and gently falling snow you will find a winter wonderland and of course… Coffee. Le’eaf&Bean Coffee truck is onsite for your caffeine and cocoa fix.

– Le’eaf and Tinsel About Land

The work of T Lefevre (Teagan Lefevre), this 2,800 sq metre parcel sits under her Le’eaf portfolio of parcel and regions designs. Like her other work, the parcel forms a part of the Mainland Preservation Society & The Nature Collective – with Teagan working with Emm Vintner (Emmalee Evergarden) – and there will be more on this in a moment.

Le’eaf and Tinsel Café, Heterocera – November 2022

Small the parcel might be, it nevertheless offers an engaging visit, the path from the step meandering to the left between rocks, trees and shrubs to reach a little wooden bridge. Following the path offers hints of more to be found beyond the hedges: the walls and roof of a building and the top of a van. However, as the shrubs extend along the side of the path all the way to the bridge, visitors need to make a right turn at the top of the steps and follow the right arm of the path.

This also meanders somewhat, but leads to where a skating rink sits beyond a picket fence to the right (touch the sign alongside the rink for skates), and to the left is a fire pit warming outdoor seating. The building – a converted barn – and the van sit on the south side of the parcel; the former is home to a little bakery, the latter the Le’eaf & Bean coffee wagon; both lie alongside a winding boardwalk and have further outdoor seating snuggled between them.

Winter Wonders of Comelia Street and the Toe Beans Cat Café and Rescue, Heterocera – November 2022

The wooden bridge within the parcel spans a narrow stream, the path beyond passing through a set of high gates and into the next parcel and the second of the café destinations I want to talk about – the Winter Wonders of Comelia Street and the Toe Beans Cat Café and Rescue.

Both are the work of Emm Vintner as a part of her Nature Collective brand, with the former offering an almost winter-streets-of-New-York-meets-Dickens’-Victorian-England vibe. The cobbled street is lined to one side by tall apartment buildings and a cosy bookshop. With more snow falling from above, the north side of the street offers winter seasonal elements that help with the more timeless feel to the parcel – an outdoor hot chocolate stand, a snowman, and tall street lamps that might be a gaslight, together with a little place selling fir trees for the holiday season – complete with a modern machine for netting them to allow easier transport.

Winter Wonders of Comelia Street and the Toe Beans Cat Café and Rescue, Heterocera – November 2022

The far end of the street from the gate to Le’eaf and Tinsel provides access to the café, assuming you’re following my footsteps through he parcels.

As its name suggests, the Toe Beans Cat Café and Rescue is a place for both humans and cats – and particularly the latter! Kitties of all ages await visitors, with some also helping themselves to the café’s offerings! A novel aspect of the café is the ability to help toward local tier by “adopting” a cat from the board just inside the door to the left. L$25 will bring you a copy of one of the offers cats (just right-click and PAY the photo of the cat you desire).

Winter Wonders of Comelia Street and the Toe Beans Cat Café and Rescue, Heterocera – November 2022

The square outside the café is warmed on one side by a propane heater for those who would like to  sit outdoors, and one of the tables includes a game of draughts which might be enjoyed while munching on the roasted chestnuts available from the little vendor cart in one corner of the yard. Or visitors can sit on the bench next to the cart, which is also warmed by another of the propane heaters.

The final destination for this piece lies on the south-western side of Heterocera and is a place – again possibly befitting the more southerly latitude – which is snow-free for those looking for somewhere warmer to visit. It also, again if you’re following in my footsteps, continues the kitty theme found at the Toe Beans Cat Café in that there is a certain moggy presence to be found here.

Hi Café, Heterocera – November 2022

The work of Hitsu Ruby, the Hi-Café sits alongside the Atoll Road and sits within a cosy 1536 sq m parcel. The café itself sits adjacent to the cobbles of the Atoll Road, a tall brick-built building watched over by the aforementioned moggies and with an inviting, modern décor.

Caught in the shades of Autumn, the setting offers the café, with a span of a canal behind it cutting through the parcel to separate the café from Hitsu’s modest store, where she sells prefab buildings. Both the store and the café are also Hitsu’s own designs, but they appear to be custom builds rather than units she sells.  Those interested in her commercial builds can obtain demos through the store, or take a peek at the neighbouring parcel to the west, and her Store #11 on display.

Hi Café, Heterocera – November 2022

The canal itself is bordered on either side by paved footpaths complete with wildling flower beds, places to sit (allowing for the cats laying claim to portions of them!), the two halves of the parcel spanned by a pair of bridges. The rest of the parcel is peppered with little details – the bus stop (/landing point) alongside the road, the little second-hand bookstall / newspaper stand, a Parisienne-style kiosk, a fountain – all of which add character to the setting.

Those wishing to rez props for photography can do so by joining the local Group, and there is a 30-minutes return time for objects that are rezzed; however, if you avail yourself to the opportunity, do be sure to pick up your items hen done, so that other can rez without having to wait.

Hi Café, Heterocera – November 2022

All three locations are equally attractive, offering their own points of attraction. They are not the only such places to be found in Heterocera or SL as a whole, but I offer them here as a small selection, and may well do more pieces like this one in the future.

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Exploring Mullein Woods in Second Life

Mullein Woods, November 2022 – click any image for full size

Emm Vintner  (Emmalee Evergarden) has opened a new parcel under her Nature Collective group. Entitled Mullein Woods, it directly adjoin her What The Buzz  setting, which I originally wrote about in Making a beeline for WTB in Second Life. Together they offer a double-header of settings.

Still located in Heterocera, both regions offer a pleasant visit. What The Buzz retains its interactive nature as a bee preserve, albeit on a smaller scale to the setting I explored in May of 2022, offering the opportunity to learn about bees and their importance to the ecosystem.  It sit directly to the west of Mullein Forest, seamlessly joining with it thanks to the shared narrow-gauge railway.

Mullein Woods, November 2022
Discover the quiet wild of Mullein Woods. Get lost among the trees and explore nature as it was meant to be – natural, alive and full of wonder and beauty. Explore by foot or by train – on the path or off the beaten path. By the Nature Collective!

Mullein Woods About Land

Mullein Woods, November 2022

Located alongside Route 3.5, Mullein Woods offers a gentle spot of some 6,600 square metres to explore, the aforementioned narrow-gauge railway circling it and running between it and What the Buzz, and serving the two stations that lie along it – the first for the woods themselves, the second for What the Buzz.

Mullein Woods, November 2022

The Mullein Wood station offers an introduction to the location and to the Great Little Railways of Second Life  -some of which I’ve also covered in these pages (see here and here).

The setting itself is easy to explore, being small enough to cover easily on foot,  with numerous opportunities for photography. However, rather than ramble on about it here – I’ll leave it to you to find out via a visit to the Woods and What the Buzz! – Just keep an eye out for the local critters and creatures! 🙂 .

Mullein Woods, November 2022

 

Mullein Woods, November 2022

SLurl Details

Mullein is rated Moderate