Farewell to the Isle of May

farewell may final.jpg

We will be closing Isle of May next week, on 1 January. The winter version of this sim was very popular. The sim was often full, and another 800 pictures or so were added to the Flickr group in the month or so since we re-opened the sim on 23 November. Thanks to everyone who posted pictures to the group, to those who reviewed this latest iteration of the sim, and to everyone who signed the guestbook.

Huge compliments to all you photographers – there have been some great shots of the sim in winter conditions. I am reluctant to pull out favourites, but here is a small selection of images that – for me – capture the ‘rawness’ of the winter setting we were trying to recreate at the sim …

taken at Isle of May

Isle of May


Isle of May

~A Winter's Tale~

The north wind doth blow...

[...this unfamiliar place]

campagne enneigée

As always, there is a hint of sadness when we close a sim. But I’d be surprised if this one doesn’t make a third appearance on the grid at some point in the future, it’s a real favourite of ours – and, it seems, of yours.

So … what next? Rest assured that we are thinking, and planning. As ever, watch this space.

But for now, happy holidays to all, and we hope you enjoy visiting the Isle of May for a few more days.

The Isle of May in Winter

When we closed the Isle of May in June we promised ourselves that we would try designing a winter version later on in the year to see how it turned out. Having worked on the sim for a couple of weeks, we rather like it, and so today it opens to everyone – here is your landmark. As usual, it won’t stay open for too long – think of it as our ‘festive’ sim – so make the most of it while it lasts.

may snow 1

The Isle of May was always a special sim to us, it seemed to have a magic all of its own. When the sim opened on 16 March 2018, we were pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm shown by visitors. The Flickr stream grew fast, with around 350 pictures posted in the first week alone. As comments in the sim’s guestbook testify, our first ‘pastoral’ sim – a contrast to some of the more desolate landscapes we’d made in the past, such as Furillen and (especially) Khodovarika – struck a chord with its spectacular views and abundant wildlife.

But we always wondered about this place in winter, fully exposed to winds from the North Sea, bitterly cold, and covered in snow …

may snow 2

What we were hoping to create is something wild and untamed: less desolate and abandoned than Khodovarikha, or even Furillen, but still a place where you’d feel the wind and snow hurting your face, and the cold gnawing away at your insides. We imagined a roaring sea, with north-easterly gales blasting onto isolated beaches.

may snow 3

In real life, this would surely be a thoroughly horrible place to be for all but the most masochistic lover of raw nature.

may snow 4

But in Second Life, such places can be wonderful, and surely a contrast to sunnier beaches or even some the cuter, picture postcard versions of winter we are used to enjoying on the grid over the Christmas weeks. So we have not compromised: the Isle of May in winter is brutal and unforgiving, dark and forbidding.

may snow 5

And yet … this is a nature reserve, where 285 different bird species have been recorded. The Isle of May is especially noted for its puffin colonies, crowds of angry cormorants and hungry gulls, guillemots, herons and cranes, as well as a variety of birds such as ospreys, crows, ravens, bats, pheasants, eurasian jays, magpies, starlings, blackbirds, blue tits, sparrows, woodpeckers, owls and – of course – robins. You will find all of these on the sim, as well a few hardy black-faced sheep huddled close to straw bales, a small raft of otters, some goats, wild rabbits (yes, rabbits are abundant on the real Isle of May!), and a family of deer – all braving the cold and fighting for survival …




may snow 9

may snow 7

may snow 6

may snow 10

As always, we have paid close attention to the sim’s soundscape. In this instance, I added original sound files to the cormorants, egrets, cranes, herons, common murres and geese. It makes for quite a cacophony at certain places on the sim, as indeed it would in real life.

Out in the bay, you should be able to spot the beautiful orca, and if you listen closely, you will surely hear its wonderfully plaintive cry. You might also notice the mother and baby dolphin. Dolphins are quite frequently seen from the Isle of May, and I was somewhat surprised to learn that they do not migrate, although realistically, I doubt they would be seen in water this cold!


dolphins may

In addition, besides the sea birds that we believe would still inhabit the island even in deepest winter, you will also find seals and seal pups, for whose protection the Isle of May is officially closed every year from 1 October until Easter.


We did take some liberties when putting this version of the sim together. For example, we introduced a small wolf pack. Surely there are no wolves in Scotland? Correct – not since the eighteenth century, it would seem – but we placed this group on the sim as a hat tip to a landowner called Paul Lister, who wants to reintroduce wolves – safely behind fences, I hasten to add – to the Scottish highlands. I have no strong views about Mr Lister’s plans, but love hearing the howl on the sim. Just pity the poor sheep, grazing within earshot …

may snow 11

We’ve taken other liberties too. You’ll also see an arctic fox flitting in and out of its den. Why? Because this beautiful animal once thrived in Scotland, and although you can only see it in the Highland Wildlife Park these days, I find it fascinating to imagine times when species such as arctic foxes – and, indeed, wolves – were plentiful in the Highlands and Islands.


In any case, our Second Life version of the Isle of May was never an exact replica, indeed as we always made clear, we were hunting for the spirit of this place more than a literal representation – our own ‘true north’, as it were. So our island was inhabited by more than just the nature wardens – a lighthouse keeper, a house owned by an artist, and a smattering of smaller buildings around the periphery probably hosting holidaymakers. Previous visitors seem to have enjoyed these signs of human life, and we have continued many of them – the main house, the lighthouse, and so on – here in their ‘winter coats’.

may snow 12

Some buildings have changed – e.g. the fisherman’s hut – or are new. We couldn’t resist placing a ‘real’ church just beyond the ruins of the old St Adrian’s Chapel. This is the delightfully creepy ‘Church of the Damned’ by Schultz, which sits gloomily under frozen oak trees, guarded by those wolves and some ominous bats.

As for music, I have re-introduced the Furillen radio stream – consisting of around 70 hours of ambient music on random rotation – which many visitors have enjoyed in the past. Here are some tasters from the stream:

Finally, a quick note to photographers. We know that snowfall can make picture-taking a little frustrating. At the same time, we wanted to make the experience of being on the Isle of May as immersive as possible, so make no apologies for the fact that visitors will find snow all over their screens, and their view into the distance obscured. However, we will be switching the snow off on some days. But enjoy the challenge, too – snow shots can be incredibly atmospheric … we believe in you!

As ever, please enjoy what you see and ask for nothing more, just as we ask for no donations or membership fees. There are no rez rights. Why? Because we wanted to use every last prim to make the sim as good as it could be.

We love this place and thoroughly enjoyed putting it together. But whatever you think about it, and wherever you spend your time, have a happy winter!

Bayou Bids Farewell

We opened Black Bayou Lake on 9 October 2018, and having originally planned to keep it open for about one month, feel that the time has come to move on. The sim will therefore close on Friday 23 November 2018, so you have a few more days to enjoy it.

black bayou lake

Black Bayou Lake has been popular, perhaps a little bit more than we expected. The Flickr group is now approaching a thousand pictures. As I said in my last post, we really enjoyed seeing now various photographers imagined the sim, indeed this is one of the most intriguing and satisfying aspects of sim design. There are many highlights which demonstrate great variety in how you saw this place.


Golden Bayou


Quiet moment

" Saving nickles, saving dimes "


Light me up a cigarette

Black Bayou Lake


We also wanted the visit to be immersive, and were pleased to note several of the reviewers commenting about exactly this. As noted in my last blog, and as some entries in the sim’s guestbook confirm, we were especially pleased when visitors who have actually been to this part of the world ‘approved’ our attempt to recreate the Bayou in SL – given that we had only photographs and maps to go on. Finally, we always intend our sims to be places where visitors are not bombarded with greetings or requests for donations, and can just, well, hang out … and this is what seems to have happened for the almost two months we stayed open.

Rewinding back

Sunday Night Football!

A friendly encounter and stories shared

“The Graveyard In Our Heart”

As I have said in the past, our plan now is to follow a pattern of old sim revivals mixed in with new sims. Besides Bayou, our ‘back catalogue’ of sims now includes Furillen, Digue, Khodovarikha and the Isle of May, and we think they all merit the occasional return with improvements, variations or second thoughts. Our last revival was La Digue du Braek, which re-opened for a month or so at the beginning of 2018. We will surely do a ‘Version 2’ of Bayou in due course, and have some interesting ideas for brand new sims that we will follow up in 2019. But for the time being, we have another revival in mind.

So … watch this space.

It may come sooner than you think.

One week in Louisiana

walkway final

Black Bayou Lake opened just one week ago – with no advance notice – and the sim has been busy ever since. Given that the grid is currently in the grip of Halloween fever, this is a nice outcome. Thanks to everyone who has visited so far, and especially to those of you who took the trouble to leave a comment in our guestbook.


Apart from the intrinsic satisfaction to be had from trying to recreate real locations using the somewhat limited resources available to us in Second Life, the two main reasons we put sims together are, first, to give visitors an immersive experience of ‘being there’ – hence our focus on a convincing windlight and soundscape, for example – and, second, to give the large and active community of photographers something new to take pictures of.

Black Bayou Lake

After one week, the sim’s Flickr group is fast approaching 300 pictures, and it is always intriguing to see how others choose to ‘see’ what we put together: the angles they choose, their light settings, favourite details, and so on. I have been struck so far by how many of you have chosen monochrome …

Please just take me with you when you go

Keep The Streets Empty For Me

We have also been surprised by how many photographers have focused on one small detail that we added right at the end, almost as an afterthought: these old sneakers, hanging from the hammock, and from a boat …

" Saving nickles, saving dimes "

Dancing Shoes


As expected, the sim’s wildlife has been popular …

Black Bayou Lake

It's a Canadian thing....

Black Bayou Lake

… and I have enjoyed seeing images that use the walkway for perspective, to create pictures that remind me of Furillen’s old pier …

To lose in the fog...

Black Bayou Lake

Finally – as with every sim we’ve been involved with – some of you are simply very good at making images that are downright moody …

Golden Bayou

The Beast in the Swamp



There have been very positive reviews from Inara Pey and Maddy Gynoid – both are experienced reviewers and it is always interesting to get such feedback. But the ‘review’ we are always waiting for – with baited breath, it must be said – is from anyone who has actually visited the places we try to recreate. I remember some fascinating conversations from people who had visited the real Furillen and the Isle of May – although, alas, nobody I met has ever visited Khodovarikha. As for Black Bayou Lake, we had our first conversation with a ‘local’ reviewer last night. This is how it went …

[18:08] RM: just wanted to say WELL DONE! I am a Louisiana native and I’m positivley sweating and batting away mosquitos while standing here LOL
[18:08] JK: Ohhhhhhhhh nice :p
[18:08] RM: you def captured the essence for sure
[18:09] JK: ha ha ha we were waiting people from louisiana to have their opinions, you’re first and that’s very coool to hear 🙂
[18:09] RM: the ambient sounds, everything…perfect
[18:10] RM: GOOD JOB

Black Bayou Lake

Black Bayou Lake – the inspiration for our latest sim – is located in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana. The lake is part of an 800 acre nature reserve – there is a factsheet about it here – which seethes with wildlife: there are many species of bird, insect, reptile and fish, along with a variety of trees such as cherrybark oak, cedar elm, ash, hickories, willow oak, shortleaf pine, loblolly pine, mockernut hickory and post oak. It’s a stunning place, which attracted us because we had not yet tried designing a sim that consists mainly of water.


With bare trees growing up out of the dark lake, this place has a somewhat creepy feel, and we tried to capture this spirit in our recreation.


In some ways this sim is a throwback to Khodovarikha, in which nature was characterized by a rawness that many visitors found inspiring. But unlike that desolate Russian weather station, Black Bayou Lake recalls our most recent sim, Isle of May, for its abundance of wildlife.

about the refuge 512 W

As ever, we’ve done our best to make the sim feel alive: there are plenty of birds, from eagles soaring overhead, ravens and crows, owls and woodpeckers, osprey and kingfishers, along with a variety of water-based birds such as egret, geese, cormorants, ducks, cranes, brown pelicans and herons. You’ll hear most of these birds in the sim’s soundscape. All of them, so far as we are aware, can be found in and around the real Black Bayou Lake. There are alligators, too, ominous and threatening from just beneath the water.


The dominant structure at Black Bayou Lake is a large walkway used by visitors who want to venture out onto the lake, and for fishing. The walkway has an interesting feature, a ‘bridge’ section that looks like an upside down ‘V’, and we have recreated this although we have no idea what its purpose might be, other than to offer a more elevated viewing spot.

Home Page Billboard Pic.jpg

As for human habitation, we have added shacks and a houseboat that we believe are typical of the Louisiana Bayou.




For music, a blues-based soundtrack seemed like the best choice.

As with the Isle of May, what you see is what you get: no parties or exhibitions, no tip box and no rez rights (we always run out of prims, so please don’t ask) – and it won’t be staying open for long. So enjoy Black Bayou Lake while you can, and post your pictures here.

Important Announcement

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks doing some thinking and have reached the decision that Furillen has gone as far as I want to take it. I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing this space with so many interesting people, and will remember the events held at the sim for a long time. There is no reason behind this decision other than the simple fact that I’d like to spend time doing other things. Many thanks to all of you who have visited the sim and contributed to its upkeep in direct and not so direct ways. Thanks also to readers of this blog. All in all, it has been great fun …

… but now you know why I built that EXIT door …

exit 01_001

So that’s it. Let me finish with the song that, for me, defined what Furillen meant to many of us …

Goodbye !!