Isla Pey: all change

The Maven Eco IV, with mods, and part of the updated island

So, yeah. Last time I wrote about the pet project of Isla Pey, I passed comment that unless it went through a major make-over, it likely would not be changing too much. Well, guess what? We’ve just had a major make-over 😀 . It wasn’t intentional; we happened to visit Cerys’ magnificent Collins Land (see here), which got me reconsidering island designs; then I discovered the Maven Homes Eco IV house (available in either unfurnished or furnished variations), which became a “must have”.

The House particularly caught my eye for a number of reasons. The unfurnished variant offers  very flexible living space (a large open plan front area which can be easily made into two rooms and a separate room to the rear, alongside of a comfortably sized wooden deck) neatly fitted into a 25m by 27m footprint and 99 Land Impact. However, the attraction for me is the soft echo of Frank Lloyd Wright in the design and styling: the cool stone walls, the pseudo cantilever angling of the roofs, the use of glass. All of these made it pretty irresistible. So really, I had no option but the consign the cottage and ruins design to a rezzing system and start over…

The Maven Eco IV with Trompe Loeil Keliana pool (left foreground) and steps down the cliff to the boat moorings

Of the two variants of the Eco IV, I opted for the unfurnished since furniture is something we’re hardly lacking. As noted, the large space to the front of the house offers two open plan room spaces, either side of the front door. I borrowed an idea from Leaf and Birdy Moone, adding some low-level stone “room dividers” to further break up the space, putting a lounge on one side and a study / music / cosy on the other.

There are one or two things about the Eco (as with any house design) which didn’t quite suit our preferences. The Eco’s fireplace, for example came across as a little too modern, while the lighting in part comprises fluorescent style strip lights which frankly aren’t that attractive. The old cottage came to the rescue here, providing me with both a replace fireplace and chimney, and a pair of suspended candle lights. The former did require a retexturing of all of the stone walls in the house to blend the chimney into the design, while the later required a little script tinkering and lighting prim placement to both get the candles to work with the built-in house controls and give a decent lighting effect both above and below, but none of this was in any way onerous work.

The modified day space in the Eco IV: the fireplace, dividing walls, ceiling fan and lighting candles are all additions to the basic house, and the stonework is not the original texturing

The use of several large base sections in the house makes it relatively easy to add to the structure and avoid bumping the LI too much. In this case, I added the fireplace, room dividers, additional lighting, rugs, carpets, wall hangings, paintings, photos, and ornaments totalling 38 LI individually for just an additional 14 LI on the house. Controls for the house a pretty good as well. The main panel includes a security /access system, controls for the lights (which can be set to turn on / off at region dusk / dawn and have a colour options), door controls (including setting them to auto-open) and a window opacity / tinting system.

Of course, a new house required a re-working of the island as a whole, and I opted for the Fantik Lofoten Summer rock kit for this, as it offered the best flexibility for the look I wanted to achieve. There are nine basic rock formations in the kit, all with physics. This can limit resizing opportunities due to increased LI; however, if you have rocks you won’t be walking on directly, use the old trick of flicking the physics over from Prim to Convex Hull (Build / Edit floater > Features tab), and you’ll find they are a lot more friendly to resizing.

Looking down on the new house. The chimney actually came from the “old” cottage, with a retexturing of the stone on it and the house to blend the two together. Some of the wood and cement beams on the house have also been tinted to darken them

Those who have used this kit will know just how flexible it is, and it allowed me to easily design the new island around the house and a new water feature of two rocky pools linked by a series of small falls (courtesy of Alex Bader’s Waterfall kit) stepping their way down the rocks, together with a final fall to the sea (with a sluice to prevent the ducks, geese and fishes from being swept away! Kriss Lehmann’s excellent Botanical Edge Brick Park Path kit came out of retirement to provide the paths and steps winding down the rocks, including down the the new boat moorings below the back of the house.

The southern end of the island has been a little truncated – we really didn’t need all the space – and redesigned using elements from the Fanatik kit. Some of the old castle ruins have been retained here – not about to get rid of them entirely! This provides a nice home for our MSD Dragon Garden and offers a shaded little seating spot, while the Trompe Loeil Outcrop Hut is also retained from the last design, giving us a place to watch the boat races go by.

The view from the front of the house looking south over the pond and water to the old ruins

So, that’s what’s been keeping me occupied for the last couple of days, and one (among several) of the reasons the blogging output has slowed of late. But as we’re both happy with the result, I’d say the effort has been worth it 🙂 .

If you’re interested in seeing Eco IV in-world, you can fint it at Cain Maven’s main store.

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A little (Bento) horse riding at Calas Galadhon in Second Life

Out on the Calas horse trails, Caitlyn leading the way

I’m not a horse owner, but riding is something I’ve had the good fortunate to enjoy from time to time, and on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s also something I’ve occasionally enjoyed in Second Life, although I’m now long past the point, land-wise, where keeping a horse in-world makes a lot of sense. So, in the latter regard, my riding enjoyment is restricted to taking the opportunity in those regions where riding options are offered.

One such location is Calas Galadhon Park, which offers for Teegle and Breeder’s Choice horses and, since March of 2017, the Water Horse Bento horse. Although Ty Tenk of Calas dropped me a line about the Bento horses when they were added, we weren’t in a position to try things then, and to be honest, it just slipped my mind). However, the news that there’s a new Coast Trail for horse riding through the Calas regions gave Caitlyn and I just the excuse to hop over and try things out.

The Water Horse Bento horse makes for a very natural feeling ride, while the Coast Trail at Calas still takes you through the redwood forest

The new Coast Trail forms a circular route around several of the Calas regions. It nominally starts at the bridge linking Dimirill Dale to Calas Galadhon, then runs around the lake at Calas Galadhon and up through the redwood forest of Mirromere, before curving around the cliffs of the Misty Mountains and dropping down into the islands of Long Lake. From there it arcs down through Belegear, touches the Grey Havens, and so returns to Dimrill Dale. Along the way, it offers some stunning views over the Calas park lands and waters.

As we were commencing our ride further south, at the Bento horse giver in Glanduin, (another horse giver can be found at Mirromere), Caitlyn and I opted to start our ride from there – and do things “backwards”, looping up through Dimrill Dale to Belegear, and then swinging through Long Lake and down through the Misty Mountains and Mirromere, to reach Calas Galadhon.

The Coast Ride takes you through the wilds of Calas Galadhon Park, and past some of its picturesque landmarks, such as the Greek Village, a reminder of “old Armenelos”

The Water Horse giver is easy to use, with the instructions clearly visible on the sign. Follow them, and you really can’t go wrong. The supplied horse is provided as a temp attachment (so nothing in your inventory), and is a demo version with about an hour’s duration, after which it will be removed / deleted. As it is a demo version, I can’t offer a comprehensive review  of it here; but what I can say is that as a Bento extension to the avatar skeleton, the horse handles very naturally (just remember to turn off your AO!), and you do get the four motion speeds – walk, trot, canter and gallop. Given the lay of the land at Calas, there are plenty of opportunities to try all of them.

Being a demo with an hour’s duration, the horse provided by the giver isn’t as fully featured as the actual Water Horse Bento horses, so I can’t offer a review here. What I can say, however, is that it is more than enough to give you a basic feel for riding the horse, and to demonstrate just how well the horse works as an extension to your avatar. You do get the four speed options – walk, trot, canter and gallop, and the Calas trails provide plenty of places where each can be tired.

Trotting across a bridge

The trails through Calas are a joy to ride – whichever horse system you have / use – and are fairly clearly signposted throughout. As the newest, the  Coast Trail is beautifully picturesque, particularly if you tackle it clockwise, as we did. To do this, follow the track up from the horse giver and through the farm and across the covered bridge. Then follow the trail under the rock arch, and then bear left before the next bridge, following the water’s edge westwards towards the Grey Heavens, and over the marshes to Belegear’s slender peninsula.

Going around the trail this way really opens out the park’s fabulous beauty from the start, leaving the lakeside buildings of Calas Galadhon itself until last, where a well-deserved drink can be had. The hour-long duration of the demo Water Horse means there is plenty of time to take the trail without having to unduly hurry.

Resting in the saddle near the cliffs of the Misty Mountains

I’ve always enjoyed Calas Galadhon, whether on horseback or foot, and the new Coast Trail is a delight, bringing home the natural beauty of the parklands, whether riding a Bento horse or any other horse type available from the rezzers in the regions (and if you’re a member of the Calas group, yo can always hop along and ride your own, if you haven’t already).

My only regret with our little foray is that as my video software still isn’t playing nice with the viewer at times, leaving me unable to record our meanderings. Fortunately, Ty made this point moot, having produced his own video highlighting both the Water Horse Bento horse and the riding trails of Calas. So I’ll leave you with that instead 🙂 .

SLurls and Links

All Calas Galadhon regions are rated Moderate.

Isla Pey: happiness is getting things *just* so …

The cottage and gardens on the plateau

We’re into another quarter, so it must be time for me to fiddle with the island home 🙂 .

In January, we reverted back to using the Fanatik Rocky Island to give a little elevation to our island home, and while happy with the results, I couldn’t help but feel tweaks were necessary. For one thing, the rotation of that huge rock made the walk from house to boat house something of a trek. It had ended up this way because I thought that was the only way the Rocky island would decently fit the north end of the parcel, where we wanted it. Turned out, I’d measured things a little inaccurately, so if we sacrificed the ‘plane docks, it would actually just fit.

So, around went the 118 LI slab of land by 90-degrees, moving the footpath winding down the side so that it descends directly to the “field” at the foot of the cliffs. So far, so good, other than the loss of the ‘plane docks – and the burying of half the duck pond (which was not looked upon too kindly by our TLC ducks!). Cue a reshuffle of the landscape 🙂 .

The Botanical Enchanted Forest Tower and MSD Among the ruins – Isolde tower can be nicely merged to form a single ruin, and as both are mod, the stonework can be textured to they match. The upper platform on the Enchanted Forest Tower makes for a perfect setting for our MSD Dragon Garden piece.

I won’t bore you with a huge delve into things. Suffice it to say that the reshuffle actually improved things no end. For one thing, moving the pond helped me realise that with a little bit of re-texturing of the stonework, Kriss Lehmann’s Botanical Forest Ruins Tower could be combined with the MSD Among the Ruins – Isolde tower to produce a nicely expanded ruin on the west side of the island. This in turn provided a new home for our MSD Dragon Garden  (which is (reviewed here alongside the Among The Ruins Tower), with a cosy little snuggle beneath it, overlooking the relocated pond.

Looking across the pond from the sitting nook under one of the ruined towers

Moving the Rocky Island around also presented a much more flexible space in which to set the house and  gardens, with a little bit of terracing to break things up a bit. Everything is now much more conveniently located, and finally provided just the right post for out old well (a genuine steal from DIVAs Design at L$25), accessed via a gate (from Cube Republic’s Meadow Farm Fence kit, another recommendation) opening off the back of the garden.

And the ‘planes? Well, moving the pond made room for a smaller set of moorings, and a quick raid of my inventory produced an old Smith Fizz scene rezzing system. Nicely customisable, this now lets us rez whichever float ‘plane or helicopter we fancy using, whilst keeping the dock otherwise clear for friends to use when visiting, whether they come by air or water.

The towers lit at night, and the cottage in its new cliff-top location

So, are we happy with things – finally? Believe it or not, we both are. Will there be more changes in the future? Obviously, as there will always be nips and tucks, tweaks and additions. But unless we decide on a total make-over of the island for something completely new, I think that this time Isla Pey with its walks, ruins and house, is exactly how we both like it.

The dragon, the rune stone and the ruin in Second Life

Three composite creations by Morgan Sim Designs with me alongside to give a sense of scale with each one. From the left: the Dragon Garden, the Rune Stone Garden and Among the Ruins – Isolde

Whilst visiting Spring Spirit recently (see: A Spring Spirit in Second Life), Caitlyn and I were both taken by a magnificent red dragon seated upon a rock amidst a spray of grass and flowers. Taking a peek at it, via the Edit floater, we were led to the Marketplace store of Morgan Sim Designs (MSD). While the name may be familiar to some, it was a new and virtual treasure trove for us – as it is likely to be for anyone looking to add some special touches to their landscape and / or garden.

Operated by Chandra Pelazzi, Morgan Sim Designs is a Marketplace-only store specialising in composite designs. That is, designs which bring together the full permission works of other creators to design and present a unique finished product.

Buying from the Marketplace without the means to check creations in-world can at times be a hit-and-miss affair: will the item really live up to the photos? Is there perhaps some unseen flaw or issue which might others dissuade a purchase? We’ve all likely had such feelings. From what we’ve seen (and purchased!) so far from Morgan Sim Designs there is absolutely no need to worry. The elements used in MSD creations are all good quality pieces from established creators, with the completed pieces by the MSD demonstrating a keen eye for colour, design and detail.

The MSD Dragon Garden on our home island

Take the dragon mentioned above, for example. Called the Dragon Garden, it combines a full perm dragon with plants by Better Gnomes and Cauldrons / Krikket Blackheart, and additional plants and flowers by Decor Depot / Styx Maven and Daffy’s Gadgetmania / Daffy Proto. Offered as Modify / Copy for just L$190, it is a marvellous feature for any garden, weighing in a 22 LI in its default size (as a Modify item it can be resized, which will reduce the LI if downsizing, or increase it if upsizing). We now have one, slightly reduced in size and LI (16), sitting in the “wilder” part of out gardens, keeping an eye on the lower lawns nearby.

Another MSD item now included at home is the Rune Stone Garden. This combines a central full perm version of a rune stone from Otherworld / AnnabelleApocalypse with flowers and plants again by Styx Maven and by Mesh Plants / Reid Parkin (a creator I’ve used in a number of builds), What A Mesh / Dennie Ling, and T-Spot Mesh / Teresa Matfield. At 21 LI in its default size, it is also supplied Copy / Modify, and we now have one sitting on the trail winding through the wooded part of the island, where (if I may say so), it looks superb 🙂 .

The MSD Rune Stone Garden in place on our island home

Another composite from MSD which sits well in out overall design is Among the Ruins – Isolde. A much larger piece, featuring the square tower of a castle by S&M Designs / Mikael Blogger, plants and flowers again by Reid Parkin and Teresa Matfield, together with Bad Katz / Katz Republic. It comes with a 40 LI impact in its default size, and includes a statue by DMC Creations / x1XDanteX4x, which stands amidst a spray of flower inside the tower.

Taken complete, these MSD designs and the others in the range, add a great amount of character and depth to a scene. As most are supplied Modify, not only can they be resized to deal with LI concerns, if required, they can be tweaked better suit specific needs. For example, we have an ancient stone wall running across part of the land which has needed something to bring a little more colour to it. Enter one of MSD’s Medieval Wall Ruins Cottage Garden sets. It was a simple matter to pull out the supplied wall section, slip in a section from the existing wall, and job done. Colour where it is needed, and everything nicely integrated. Even had some base rocks I could re-purpose!

The MSD Among the Ruins – Isolde tower at home on our island

If you are looking for little scenes and pieces to add colour  or interest to a part of your garden, parcel or region, and you’ve not come across Morgan Sim Designs, then the Marketplace store is well worth a perusal. Everything is very modestly priced; everything mentioned here was just L$190, which is something of an average price for the store. Even as I finish this article, another kit from MSD has slipped into my inventory, and will shortly appear in the garden 🙂 .