A walk on the Wild Branch side in Second Life

Wild Branch Brewing Co, August 2022 – click any image for full size

Once again I followed Shawn Shakespeare’s lead and headed for a location which has been on my “to visit” list given it has often popped up in my searches of the Destination Guide, but which I had not got around to hopping over to. That place is the Wild Branch Brewing Co.

Nestled in a secluded area of Riverbook, scattered with lush shrubbery & green foliage, the Wild Branch Brewing Co. is a first of it’s kind craft beer brewery experience in Second Life.
Immerse yourself in rustic tranquillity with luxury amenities for the perfect nature getaway.
It’s your time to be adventurous, be secluded, be daring, be free – our retreat lets you do all of that and more. Come visit us to unwind.

– Wild Branch Brewing Co,  region holder Lexy Nexen

Wild Branch Brewing Co, August 2022

Occupying a Homestead region held by Lexy Nexen, with a design by KaidenTray, this is a richly wooded region, rugged in nature and cut into by water, offering a mix of public spaces and short-term rental spaces suitable for the Second Life “vacationer”.

The landing point is located on the east side of the setting, tucked between the pub with its micro-brewery and a cosy art gallery which at the time of my visit featured a modest display of Second Life focused art by Jennifer Steele.

Wild Branch Brewing Co, August 2022

The pub – based on the superb Kierna Ranch design by Cory Edo (a design I’ve been eyeing for potential use on Myvatn – maybe, someday!). sees the large deck of the default build turn into an open-air music and seating area, the pool neatly converted into the dance floor overlooking the inlet cutting into the region’s heart.

A north-south footpath runs through the landing point and between the pub and the gallery; To the south, it descends to where a finger of an island points westwards, home to a second, outdoor bar, again with its own DJ space. To reach this, on crossing the channel of water separating the main island from the smaller, the path turns past one of the short-term rentals on the region, a small cabin sitting on a deck built out over the water. Beyond the bar, the path continues to where a kayak rezzer sits on the water for those fancying a paddle around the waters of the region.

Wild Branch Brewing Co, August 2022

Northwards, the path doglegs to run along the coast, passing a fenced-off campsite (also available for short-term rent) and a corner rental cabin before turning west to reach further rental cabins clustered either side of a waterfall and pool. A further pool of water sits between the pub and the camp site. Offered as a possible swimming hole fed by another waterfall, this is also a haven for local wildfowl.

The inlet cutting to the heart of the region offers 7-seas fishing and also, at its south-western headland, a further rental property, a substantial 2-storey cabin offering more space and seclusion than the other rentals on the region. Both fishing and cabin are best reached via the kayak mentioned above, although obviously, be aware the cabin might be rented already, and so privacy might be expected. The eagle-eyed might also spot paddleboard rezzer on the shingles of the inlet, whilst another rezzer alongside the 7-seas fishing presents floats for those who fancy cooling down while splashing around in the waters of the inlet.

Wild Branch Brewing Co, August 2022

Surprisingly devoid of an accompanying soundscape – outside of the cracking of a fire in the campsite -, which does leave the setting a little less immersive than might otherwise be the case (no birdsong in the trees? no rumble or splash of water tumbling from vertical or stepped falls?), Wild Branch Brewing Co., is still nevertheless highly photogenic and an attractive visit.

(Note, these is a region surround present that might not be obviously reflected in the photos here; this is because my viewer decided it did not want to fully render the entire surround, so rather than having chunks of it “missing” and random lines crossing through the sky, I opted to de-render the surround.)

Wild Branch Brewing Co, August 2022

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Sweetwater Valley in Second Life

Sweetwater Valley, August 2022 – click any image for full size

It was off to Heterocera once more after Shawn Shakespeare passed me the Landmark for Sweetwater Valley, an utterly engaging region-sized retreat set out as cliff-top parklands running around the edge of a narrow passage of water which has over time, cut its way into the landscape to leave a lone table of rock rising between cliffs and open sea.

Sitting on the north-east coast of the continent, the setting has been designed by Selena XOXO. The landing point sits on the southern side of a broad bricked path as it arcs around the top of the cliffs, and is set a short distance back from their edge.

Sweetwater Valley, August 2022

To the east, this path runs straight and true, passing an ice-cream concession before dropping down a stairway to sit just above the water’s edge. Here, a small wharf sits and a gondola can be taken for an (automated) ride around the base of the offshore island.

Westward, the path curls gently north, passing the entrance to the park from the local highway and also by an old Ferris wheel, to become something of a headland sitting between open waters and the mouth of the gorge. Here sits a tiered area for relaxing and / or dancing, and where steps descend to where a carpet of flowers sit under the shade of trees and a further hidden place to sit and contemplate or cuddle can be found. A further waterside wharf can also be found here, tucked below the terraces, allowing people to hop off (or onto) the automated gondola as it circles the waterway.

Sweetwater Valley, August 2022

The centre island can be reached via the span of a single high bridge sitting atop three tall arches as they march across the waters of the gorge from the western cliffs. This bridge offers access to a waist-high paved footpath which circles the island, occasionally dipping down towards the waters below or providing access to terraces and places to sit.

Facing the bridge as it reaches the island is a set of stairways leading up to the flat top of the island’s plateau, passing by way of a shortcut linking it to the setting’s landing point. The top of the island is a place given over to dance and music, where Elvis is busy swinging his pelvis and Samuel L. Jackson is shruttin’ his funk in moves John Travolta could only dream of in Pulp Fiction. OK, so maybe they are not actually Elvis and Mr. Jackson, but you get my drift…

Sweetwater Valley, August 2022

Finished with a custom soundscape and environmental settings (although it looks good under a variety of the latter), Sweetwater Valley is rich in detail, with sculptures scattered throughout and little touches than encourage one to stay and explore (including a farther ride on the water, for those who spot it under the island!). Yes, there are a few places where the grass and flowers disconcertingly march away from rocks and edges to float in mid-air, but not enough to in any way put one off.

Above all, this is a pace that lives up to its About Land description, requiring very little more to be said about it other than – go see for yourself!

Beautiful hangout with good music, and an awesome dance area. Take that someone special on a romantic Gondola ride. Lots of cuddle spots.  

– Sweetwater Valley About Land

Sweetwater Valley, August 2022

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Rosehaven Seafolk Sanctuary in Second Life

Rosehaven Seafolk Sanctuary, August 2022 – click any image for full size

In July I received an invitation from Matticus Marinea (Matticus.Blinker), the lead builder for Rosehaven Seafolk Sanctuary to pay a visit to the latter and spend time exploring. It admittedly to me longer than I’d hoped to get there – my apologies to Matticus and region holder Owner of Rosehaven Valley and the rest of their community for this being the case.

Below a timeless European country estate, lies a watery realm of mysticism & tranquillity. Rosehaven Seafolk Sanctuary is an open refuge to all ocean dwelling residents of Second Life. We invite everyone to come and explore our large underwater caverns and seafloor. Discover the many hidden wonders, connect with others at the many scheduled events in a safe community atmosphere.

– via Matticus Marinea / Rosehaven Seafolk Sanctuary About Land

Given the location occupies a Full private region with the additional LI bonus, there is a lot to see, with visits starting either above or below the waves, depending on preferences.

Rosehaven Seafolk Sanctuary, August 2022

Merfolk will most likely want to start underwater, as this offers the most varied environment; it’s certainly where Imp and I started our explorations. The landing point here offers information on the region, together with two teleport boards – aquatic and land. Both offer quick access to key points under and above water, but I really recommend exploring by walking / swimming.

One thing that quickly becomes apparent when underwater, is the care that has been put into making things as diverse as possible, mixing larger public spaces with smaller, more romantic  /intimate spots that are tucked away between doors and inside caves or at the end of tunnels or beyond rocky arches.

Rosehaven Seafolk Sanctuary, August 2022

There is also more of a richness of architectural and floral expression to be found here that might be expected from a merfolk environment: places resembling tree houses, plants that might be as at home in a garden on dry land as one where octopi might tend.

Being a long time merman in Second Life, I have seen a lot of underwater sims come and go. A big problem we have as mer-builders is that there just isn’t enough diversity in items (foliage, rocks, buildings) which are made specifically for underwater spaces. Therefore, when I finally had the opportunity to work on something in this larger scale, I wanted to incorporate non-traditional plant life to create an experience that is distinctively different and yet familiar.

– Matticus Marinea

Rosehaven Seafolk Sanctuary, August 2022

Exploring can be done mer-style – by swimming (we slipped into a couple of mermaid-like looks!) or on foot; the central public spaces are neatly paved, and human walkways and paths are clearly marked, and stairs and steps link areas at different depths, while ladders and stairs offer various routes up to the dry land elements of the setting.

That said, finding your way around still requires a little patience and time; just when you think you’ve seen everything, it’s more than likely turning another corner around a shoulder of rock or climbing another set of steps will reveal something more, be it an underwater lawn complete with a miniature of Stonehenge, an oyster-like bed or a little nightclub awaiting a singer at the microphone – and more.

Rosehaven Seafolk Sanctuary, August 2022

Above ground, the region is laid out as a grand manor estate with outhouses. The manor sits with an elegant formal garden before it, the outhouses range around in a quadrangle. The manor, its garden and the majority of the outhouses are private, unless playing hose to an event. The only exceptions  to this are the Tourist information Centre, which forms the above water landing point (complete with information and teleport boards), and the café / bistro facing it.

These latter face a waterside walk, the water spanned by a trio of bridge which provide access to the Rosehaven Theatre, home to productions that include Broadway shows, ballet performances, variety shows, musicals, dance recitals and more, presented by the theatre’s troupe and cast. Alongside of sit the double tier of The Cabaret Club, offering an open air performance space on its flat roof and a further venue inside.

Rosehaven Seafolk Sanctuary, August 2022

A further bridge crosses a water channel between the Club and the Aviary – but as it was unclear whether or not the latter is open the public, we kept clear (there is another small island bracketing the theatre and Cabaret Clubs, and this is home to private residences, so please avoid trespass.

Two islands are also to be found tucked into the region. Within the south-east corner sits Sawyer Island. A little haven unto itself, separated from the manor and other structures by water, it is best reached by boat or  – for those wanting to come to it underwater – by finding the path, stairs and ladder that provide access to the island via a pool close to its centre. Please be aware that Sawyer Island area is a “clothing optional” space; naturists are always welcome but visitors should not confuse “a lifestyle of practicing non-sexual social nudity in private and in public” with anything sexual.

Rosehaven Seafolk Sanctuary, August 2022

Occupying the north-east corner of the region is Fae Haven. Again best reached by boat or by finding your way up to it from underwater, this presents an idyllic, relaxing retreat awash with magic and enchantment, perfect for those seeking a quiet place to relax with friends or to simply be at one with nature. It sits as a welcome refuge to the Fae Folk of Second Life: elves, fairies, sprites & fauns, with the Enchanted Pond often used as a gathering place for dancing and music.

For me, one of the most impressive aspects in Rosehaven is the use of space. The entire size of the region is use for both the above water and undersea settings without either directly impinging on the other. They can thus be enjoyed and appreciated entirely individually to one another, whilst also being gently bound together by their connected access points to present an integrated environment.

Rosehaven Seafolk Sanctuary, August 2022

Finished with an accompanying local soundscape, Rosehaven Seafolk Sanctuary makes for a richly detailed visit (which can take some systems by surprise, so do be prepared to make some viewer adjustments if necessary) with a lot for find and enjoy both above and below the waves.

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Rosehaven Valley is rated Moderate

A Dance Of The Crows in Second Life

Krayentanz, August 2022

For her latest 80 Days region builds, Camila (Camila Runo) carries us from Italy and the town of Ars Vivendi (see: A touch of Italy for photographers in Second Life), to her native Germany and a place of the imagination called Krayentanz, which once again presents a picturesque setting well deserved of a visit by SL explorers.

I say “place of the imagination” because while a visit takes us to Germany, it carries us back in time to offer a view of that nation as it might have appeared in the Middle Ages – a fact reflected in the setting’s name, as Camila explains:

Krayen is a variation of the Middle High German word “kraeje” and means crow. So the meaning of Krayentanz would be Dance of the Crows in English. As Middle High German was spoken from approx. 1050 till 1350 AD, so the build matches the time frame.

– Camila (Camila Runo)

Krayentanz, August 2022

This is very much a setting of three parts, two of which are open the public, and the third, tucked into the north-eastern corner of the region, forms a private home. The latter is neatly hidden by a curtain run of a hill, a richly wooded landscape and the hide side of a table of rock and grass; as such it is very hard to run the risk of trespass – just stay on the village side of the humpbacked curtain of hills or the top of the table of rock and grass.

The latter is home to a sprawling collection of buildings set within a large, enclosed courtyard protected by high walls and a pair of stout gates themselves guarded by defensive towers. Described as a convent, these buildings, with their stone towers, look like they many have previously served another, possibly more war-like purpose, while the floor mosaics within several of the rooms give a suggestion of Romanic influences.

Krayentanz, August 2022

But whatever its past, the place is now given over to holy worship and to the vows of the nuns who live within its walls. And two of these nuns can be found within the courtyard of the cloisters, engaged in conversation with an individual I assume is a visiting Prior or Brother. Behind them, the Blessed Mother holds the baby Christ as she keeps watch on the convent’s gates, whilst beyond the side of the cloisters the nuns are facing, the land rises again to become the seat of a church, reached via stone steps set into the grassy flanks of the hill.

The convent is itself reached via a dusty track the meanders from a small steam that feeds a much large pool of water, and which passes the region’s landing point just as it divides. One arm of the track then continues around the foot of the plateau before finally climbing it to the convent; the other presents a short walk to where a small but apparently prosperous town, given the look and conditions of the buildings and the garb of the locals, sits behind high, protective walls.

Krayentanz, August 2022

The men folk here clearly take the responsibility of protecting the town seriously: the gatehouse under which the road passes is very solidly built and has a strong portcullis which can be dropped to bar access into the town. Further, the walls sweeping away from the gatehouse to enclose the town in their protective arms are in good repair, if a little lacking in defensive positions along their length. Meanwhile, arms for the defenders come by way of the local smithy, conveniently place closed enough the gatehouse so they can be grabbed whilst running to defend it.

Most of the houses and buildings here are furnished in keeping with the period and are open to the public, whilst the town square features a raise stage where, doubtless pronouncements may be made from time-time-time to the gathered inhabitants – although for visitors, it offers the chance to partake of a medieval dance with music provided by the local bard. Music lovers can also find more at the local tavern, sitting on the lower should of an escarpment also within the town’s walls, on the track that leads to a thumb-like knoll rising above the town, and upon which a windmill benignly keeps watch on all that goes on.

Krayentanz, August 2022

As well as the village, stream and pool, the region’s lowlands are home to gentle woodlands to the west, sitting below the plateau of the convent. Here, sunlight slants between leaf-laden boughs to offer pools of light amidst the trees whilst glades open out from between their trunks, and deer wander and graze.

In introducing Krayentanz, Camila offers an apology for having to downsize her work from a Full private region to a Homestead. Personally, I think this is misplaced; this is a setting as richly engaging as any of her previous designs, the greater land capacity afforded by the Full regions they occupied notwithstanding.

Certainly, moving to a homestead has not diminished Camila’s eye for detail, and the manner in which she has seamlessly presented the region within a mesh surround helps enhance the sense that were are somewhere deep within Germany’s borders. This sense of immersion is further enhanced by the soundscape she has created for the setting – so do please make sure you have local sounds enabled when visiting. Finally, those wishing to engage in informal period role-play are apparently welcome to do so, whilst photographers and bloggers will doubtless find a lot to see and appreciate when visiting.

Krayentanz, August 2022

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An Underwater World at Le Monde Perdu in Second Life

Luane’s Underwater World, July 2022 – click any image for full size

It might not seem that long since I last wrote about LuaneMeo’s Luane’s World – largely because it isn’t; I covered the spring look to the region just a couple of months back, in May 2022 (see Spring 2022 at Le Monde Perdu in Second Life).

However, I have good reason for returning so quickly to the region of Le Monde Perdu (The Lost World), because Laune, again working with Gorba McMahon, has made the Summer 2022 build a place to be enjoyed by both land lovers and those who enjoy dipping under the waves in either human form or as merfolk, as she presents Luane’s Underwater World.

Laune’s Underwater World, July 2022

With this iteration, the setting presents a south-facing arc of land sitting with its back to the rest of Luane’s estate, which embraces a wide and relatively deep bay within its protective arms. The south-facing arc of the land forms a sweeping curve of sun-bleached sand with many places set across it for people to sit or cuddle as gulls wheel and turn overhead, and waves break gently against the sloping sand.

Behind the beach, the land rises sharply but not precipitously or to great height; just enough to present stepped uplands sliced into from the north by a tight inlet, and whose grassy hills carry a suggestion of this being a Mediterranean setting, courtesy of the Tuscan style villas, houses and outlands scattered across them. Furnished within and showing outward signs of being occupied, these are actually public spaces as well, offering further places to sit and pass the time – and, as with the beach, plenty of opportunities for photos.

Luane’s Underwater World, July 2022

However, do be aware that behind the villa occupying the north-east lowlands, there is a trail and bridge leading into the neighbouring regions of the estate. These regions do have private residences scattered across them, so do please take care to avoid trespassing when wandering in that direction.

Throughout the landscape, there is a gentle sense of peace and of time passing slowly; a vibe that this is a place where nothing seems to happen as the minutes and days tick one to the next. But dive into the waters of the bay, and it becomes apparent something has happened here at some point. Caught in the arms of the land and sheltered under the waves is a world which at one time lay above the waters that now guards it.

Luane’s Underwater World, July 2022

This is a place rich in colour, with corals and anemones bloom, oysters hold great pearls, shark, fish, dolphin and turtle swim – and the ruins of an ancient civilisation stand in silence, the wooden wreck of a once proud sailing ship close to hand.

Exactly what caused this place to drown and when it happened is unclear – and actually unimportant; for who is to say this place was ever once above the waters of that bay? Perhaps the ruins and statues here were not carved by human hand, but by those of the merfolk they appear to celebrate?

Laune’s Underwater World, July 2022

What is clear is that here, among the corals and anemone, watched over by sea creatures great and small, are many more hiding places where lovers can rest in one another’s arms, photographers can find ready to be used within their arts, and those who simply want to sit and pass a little time can find peace. Some of these may well be out in the open and easy to spot, but others are tucked away and may require a little effort to find – but it will be time well spent, and are welcoming to both human and merfolk.

As always, Laune’s World offers much to see and appreciate with this Summer 2022 build, and I recommend that rather than reading my twaddle, you go see for yourselves!

Luane’s Underwater World, July 2022

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A Rain-Washed Soul in Second Life

Rain-Washed Soul, July 2022 – click any image for full size
Rain-Washed Soul is an immersive sound environment nestled into nature, complete with guided meditations, Tibetan singing bowls, and of course the soothing sounds of rain and thunder. Have a cup of tea, meditate, relax and be one with your surroundings while listening to the healing and renewing sounds of rain and thunder.

So states the Destination Guide entry for this little setting, a part of The Nature Collective, designed by Emm (Emmalee Evergarden), and it was more than enough to guide me to Rain-Washed Soul.

Rain-Washed Soul, July 2022

Located on the northern arc of Heterocera, and tucked between Route 6 and the railway (with access directly off of Route 6), this is a parcel-based setting intended – as the description above suggests – to create a little haven of peace and retreat for those who need it.

The landing point for the locations sits on a covered boardwalk that effectively links the two halves to the setting, which overall has an east-west orientation.

Rain-Washed Soul, July 2022

To the west, surrounded by trees and with its back to the neighbouring parcel (reached through a gate in the fence), is an A-frame retreat, reached via a walk through a light tropical shower. It offers a place of meditation for individuals or groups, with a cosy little shelter for two close by. This is a place rich in local sounds, and visitors are encouraged to turn up in-world sounds and try the local bells, etc., to appreciate the local soundscape.

At the eastern end of the boardwalk the land is a little more open, with a stone terrace with a little information kiosk, together with places to sit, waterfalls, and a further immersive soundscape, with everything watched over by the local wildlife.

Rain-Washed Soul, July 2022

As with all locations connected to The Nature Collective, Rain-Washed Soul is participating in TNC’s summer hunt (July 18th through 21st, 2022) – details available from the signs within the setting.

A simple, charming little place to visit, with plenty of opportunities to recharge the batteries and forget worries!

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