The Isle of May opened on Friday evening. The sim is the fifth we have built, it follows on from Furillen, La Digue du Braek, Furillen City and Khodovarikha. We will be reviving those sims from time to time, as we recently did with Digue, but Isle of May is our first “new” sim since Khodovarikha.
The Isle of May represents something of a departure for us, a sim in a deliberately “pastoral” style. Where previously we have emphasised desolation and decay – albeit in a form we always took to be beautiful – the primary emphasis at Isle of May is on abundant life.
The real Isle of May is situated on the Firth of Forth, eight kilometres off the East coast of Scotland. Less than half a kilometre wide and two kilometres long, the island is owned by Scottish National Heritage and used mainly as a nature reserve.
The island is closed to visitors every winter to prevent disturbance to seal pups. It is accessible during the summer months via a 45 minute journey on a ferry which sails from Anstruther and Crail, and also from North Berwick.
While there is no “signature” building on this sim, what we were searching for is something holistic and organic: for visitors, an immersive experience of being “in nature” that is powerful and evocative. We think it’s stunning, indeed we were a little bit surprised by how well it turned out. We’re pleased we tried something different (well, different for us …).
While the real Isle of May has no permanent residents, our imagined Second Life version is home to a small group of artists, a lighthouse keeper and a ranger who takes care of the island’s birds and wildlife. The latter are the most outstanding feature of the sim, which is teeming with life – the soundscape alone is remarkable. Here you will find: gulls, puffins, guillemot, cormorants, Canada geese, otters, an orca, two dolphins, various ducks and swans, herons, cranes, osprey, pheasants, and a range of garden birds including various finches and songbirds, crows, kingfishers, and thrushes.
A sea eagle soars overhead …
There are also sheep, goats, deer, and a small dog – Jim – who plays down on the beach.
The sim is on two levels, with a beautiful, peaceful U-shaped cliff top area covered in vegetation and lower beaches on either side.
The buildings on the sim are few: the main house stands at the centre of the sim, with a lighthouse and foghorn station to one side and the wildlife keeper’s office together with the ruins of St Adrian’s Priory on the other.
Down below, on small beaches, there are various buildings such as an old stone house, beach huts and a fisherman’s lodge.
All around the island there is a wild sea crashing against rocks and cliffs. The sense of location is impressive.
The sim had a lot of visitors during the weekend, with many pictures already posted in the Flickr group. We’ll feature some of these on this blog from time to time, but to all intents and purposes our work is done now. There will be no group, no tip jar, no parties or exhibitions, no picture of the day – we just invite you to enjoy this space for as long as it remains open.
So what next? We always have plenty of ideas, places that we’d like to recreate. Time will tell. But for now, please enjoy our rendition of the Isle of May.