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Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New Ice Skating Rink In Hyde Park


I was shopping around a few days ago when I noticed, for very little money, I could buy a new skin! Well, with still being relatively new to SL, I thought ‘hey why not’. So after trying it on I took a look at myself and I looked horrendous! And, the worst part of it was that I COULDN’T TAKE IT OFF. I tried everything that I knew, but with no luck, I was in tears, so I went and hid somewhere far from anyone so no one could see me.

I had only one hope left... Janey Bracken, if anyone could help me it would be Janey. When she saw me it must have scared her, but she didn’t show it, lol (laugh out loud), she soon got me sorted out.

Phew what a relief ‘I’M BACK!’ I shouted ‘I’M BACK, I’M BACK!’ lol .It was just then that Hibiscus Hastings joined us, and as we were chatting, the news of a new ice rink at Hyde Park, SL London was brought up, We quickly decided to go and check it out.

The moment I arrived, and after the mist cleared, my first impression was how beautiful it looked. It is a fairly big rink, with the cutest little snowman riding his sleigh round and round in circles. The rink is surrounded by lots of trees with frosty looking lights covering the branches, and with snow settling all around. Although the weather was cold, the atmosphere of the whole place made me feel warm and snuggly inside. Close by there is a small bandstand, I don’t know if its ever been used, but I thought how nice to have an orchestra playing while people skated around and maybe fall in love. There is a shelter close by just in case the weather turns nasty.

All of a sudden Janey gave me a pair of skates! well I’ve never skated in my life, so it was with some fear that I put them on, thinking that at least if I fall on my bum I will be well padded lol. Eventually I plucked up the courage and let go of the rail, oh wow ‘look at me skating’ like I’d been doing it all my life.

After bumping into Janey and Hibiscus a few times we noticed that there were ‘partner animation balls’ on the ground, well Janey and Hibiscus were soon on the case! and before I knew it they were skating around the rink like a couple of young ‘Torvill and Deans’ lol, so funny to watch! Ok they are meant for boys and girls, but the way Hibiscus picked Janey up so effortlessly anyone could do it, although Hib did tell me in secret that she likes to pump the iron in the gym regularly, shh don’t tell anyone!

It wasn’t long after that that I decided to find out just where we were. So leaving the happy couple dancing, lol, I sneaked off round the corner, only to find that I’m only a few blocks from the Underground club in Knightsbridge, so it would be very easy for anyone in Knightsbridge, or anywhere else for that matter, to visit the ice rink.

It wasn’t long after I got back to the rink when the owner of SL London, Debs Regent, turned up, a friendly beautiful looking lady, and although I’d never met her before, I found her very easy to talk to. We told her about the partner animation balls and Debs asked if she could watch, well Torvill and Dean didn’t need asking twice did they! and in the wink of an eye they were dancing round the rink once more. Debs laughed and as we all found it great fun.

I noticed that you can get skates for free at the side of the rink, so there would be no excuse for anyone not to come along, in a group, or on their own, and have a great time. I promise you won’t end up on your bum, and you never know, you just might meet that special someone who will literally sweep you off your feet.


pixi Piers

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Time To Look At SL Economy?


With the recession hitting hard in real life there is bound to be a knock on effect in Second Life. Although the exchange rate for real money into Linden dollars is very good, people who are really badly off will still think about cutting back on what they spend in SL. While all this is going on I am surprised to see how many SL shops are now charging way over the top for their items, including some of the fashion stores who had reasonably priced items before. I realise that a lot of hard work goes into designing and producing goods for sale, but you have to consider how many avatars actually have money to spend, and in what proportions. I would expect to pay a lot of Lindens for a really well designed dress for example, which is well made and has detailed textures and some of the top designers are right to put the high price tags on such unique items. However, for run of the mill, day to day fashion wear, I think the prices should be kept as low as possible. In my opinion the shops who have doubled or trebled what they charge recently will price themselves out of business before too long, and people will just shop around for cheaper outfits. We are lucky in SL London that the majority of shops do actually sell their wares for affordable prices. There are some, however that do seem to charge a little too much and I wonder if they might sell more items by lowering their prices just a bit.


I know that the rent money for shopkeepers plays a large part in setting their prices, and along with rent for homes, perhaps the whole scale of rental prices should be looked at to give people a chance to set up their SL London business or rent that home that they keep looking at, but just can’t afford. I met a visitor to SL London a couple of months ago, he was a gifted builder and designer, he made a great range of products, including cuddly toys, pets and jewellery. I asked him if he would open a business in SL London and told me that the rent was too high for him to consider a shop there. Our loss!! I’m sure his shop would have done well for Christmas gifts etc. Perhaps a small ‘token’ shop rent for a couple of weeks, until businesses get established, might be a good idea, On the downside, I know some people would open for a couple of weeks and then move out, but at least a shop space is filled and if it has a good turnover I am sure the shopkeeper would stay.

Same with homes, we have plenty of people coming into London looking for homes as it’s a lovely place to live, and I would think that ten houses occupied for a rent as low as 300 Lindens a week each would be better than only two houses occupied for 600 Lindens a week, and the rest left empty. Yes 300 a week is peanuts to take as rent, but with enough people affording it in the beginning and filling the properties the prices could be increased a little at a time to test the water. Even some newbies may be able to afford this, which would be great as most of them arrive in London wanting to know how to get a place to live. I know SL London do run an excellent scheme with temporary free homes for some lucky newbies for their first couple of weeks, but from there they need cheap accommodation to move into, this would make sure they stayed based in the London sim as well. Perhaps a virtual council estate is needed, without the ASBO kids on the street corner!! Today's newbie maybe tomorrow's big spender!!!

The real life economy will pick up, it has to at some time in the future, but I think we have to consider what people can afford at the present time, by gaining confidence and letting people pay just a small amount in the beginning, say for renting a small terraced SL house, when the time is right and they can afford to pay more, they will want to upgrade their SL London residence to a more expensive property, and by then the virtual capital will be their home and the place they want to be.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Nils Opens Fashion Store


Recently a new shop opened in Chelsea, Nils Island Store, owned by nils Tomorrow. I met with nils to talk about her new store and discover a bit about her fashion philosophy.

Nils has been an rl womenswear designer for 15 years, and an sl designer for about 8 months. When first in sl, nils spent much of her time exploring and shopping but after a while she decided to give designing a try, and now, as she says, is “hooked”. Nils discovered London when an English friend of hers brought her to the Underground Club. After that she kept returning to the sims, finally opening her store in Chelsea. The Underground Club also played another role in nils’ fashion career because sl London fashionista, Brie Janick, suggested using one of nils’ dresses and adding the UGC logo to it for the UGC uniform.

I asked nils how she separates herself from the competition. She answered that every designer has a style which will attract a certain group of customers. She describes her typical customer as a women who is “trendy,fashion conscious, (who) knows what’s out there on the high street (and) and likes a feminine and sexy look”.

Nils is a very busy designer. She first opened a store near her home location, then tried a couple of other places before settling on Chelsea, which she says can be her flagship store. And although the Chelsea store was only open about a week when I spoke with nils, she has since opened another place in a corner of the Miracle Fashion store. In addition, nils is a member of both fashcon and fashionlife, advertising to many avatars through both of these groups. Nils hopes to expand her business to even more stores, making her a designer to watch in the future.


Hibiscus Hastings

Saturday, 27 December 2008

New Year's Eve Celebrations

Don't forget that there will be a great party in the London Underground Club, Knightsbridge on New year's Eve, with two fantastic live singers, Allister Westland and Edward Kyomoon. So make a note in your diary to see the New Year in at the UGC. There will also be firework displays in all five London sims.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Being a Newbie in Second Life

After hearing about Second Life from a friend of mine, I finally decided to give it a go and see just what she was going on about. So after signing in, so to speak, I find out I can be anyone I want to be (well almost), I could be tall, short, skinny, fat etc, even beautiful! well to a point!

I felt as though I was a plastic surgeon just learning her trade, lol. After several attempts to give myself a new name, I found after a click or three, being whisked away to some strange land where everything was a greyish blur, with some blobs of light with names above them! slowly they turned into people and the landscape became clearer and more defined. Later I was told this is known as "rez" and all about the joys of drag (lag) lol.

So after fumbling about like a young baby learning to walk for the very first time, I eventually said ‘hello’ to a few people, found out that I could fly, I mean, wow fly! how good is that! After looking round this small island for a while I noticed a bill board with ‘enter’ or something or other on it, so I clicked it and found myself entering a whole new world.

I don’t remember where I was first sent, but I knew I didn’t like it. The people seemed very false and not very welcoming. I nearly gave up at this point, but found I could teleport to anywhere in the world, how cool is that?

Luckily I tried SL London, Knightsbridge to be accurate. I met some very amazingly friendly people there who made me feel very welcome, and even though they must have been asked the same questions many, many times before, they still answered them in a way I could understand. And with the help of a very special person, namely Janey Bracken, I knew I had found a new home, with many places to go, people to meet, and many, many things to learn.

pixi Piers

Thursday, 25 December 2008

A Christmas Story

Avatar Silverstar McGiven wandered into SL London late on Christmas Eve, she had been looking all over the Second Life grid for something to do, she hated Christmas and thought she would find solace in the virtual world to distract her from real life. Silverstar’s real life had not been the same since her husband had left her for a younger, prettier woman, and this was her first Christmas on her own, just her and her tiny apartment, with her laptop for company. Her choosing! she could have gone to friends, but felt that they had included her out of pity, so she had thanked them, but declined their kind offer.

She had spotted that there were quite a few avatars in the Knightsbridge sim and as she landed she could see that most of them were in the London Underground Club having a great time. DJ Mike and Host cutewillow were making sure that the club was rocking. She peeped in the door, but overcome with shyness because it was her first time in the sim, she decided not to join in the fun. Looking at her map she saw that there were some quieter sims in London and thought she would explore them, liking the look of the wonderful buildings, quite like being in real London, she thought.

Following her map she flew over to Kensington and saw the impressive DMGT Office block, plus the Kensington function rooms next door with the beautiful roof gardens. Then she spotted that there was a public house just across the way, it was a copy of the real life Greyhound Pub in Kensington. Well as she was feeling blue and not really wanting to mix with people, she decided that this would be the place to go and sit and ponder her future in both SL and real life.

She entered the lifelike pub and sat in the comfy lounge seats opposite the bar, after taking a glass of whiskey from the server. Silverstar sat in real life too, with her solitary drink, and she felt overwhelmed with self pity for her avatar, as well as her real life entity. SL can certainly be a lonely place, she realised you could be on a high one day, enjoying being part of the virtual community or suddenly be plunged into despair when you think your virtual friends have deserted you.

Silverstar suddenly became aware of a movement up at the bar, seeing another avatar trying to rez into the area, looking like a little cloud with a nametag above it, the avatar slowly began to materialize. Swiftfellow Henshaw began to take shape, he was dressed in Victorian Costume with a bright red waistcoat, white shirt and smart black trousers with shiny black shoes. His dark hair was wavy and longish, covering his ears. He had a nice face, slightly tanned and clean shaven, with clear grey eyes. Silverstar greeted Swiftfellow with a ‘hello’ and Swift returned her greeting.

He seemed to sense her melancholy and asked if he could sit with her for a little while. Although she did not really want company, she agreed and he joined her. He had a strange quietness about him, she felt comfortable with him, and sensed that he was a gentle person, someone she could talk to, although she had never set eyes on him before. That was another thing she had noticed about SL, the fact that you could instantly assess people, something almost impossible in real life.

“May I ask you something?” he said looking at her. “Yes ok” Silverstar answered. “Why are you sitting alone in SL on Christmas Eve?” Silverstar was a little taken aback and a little flustered as she sat at her keyboard in real life. “Well” she said “I could have joined my friends in real life tonight, but I guess I thought that they might have only asked me over because they felt sorry for me, as I am on my own in real life.” It seemed odd that she was confiding in this avatar whom she had just met, but she trusted him for some reason. “Then may I ask you” he continued “why do you assume that your friends only want to see you out of pity when they are your friends and must enjoy your company?” She stared back at him thinking, ‘he is right why did I think that, they are good friends we have such good times together.’ Smiling at Swiftfellow, she said “Do you know, you are perfectly right, it was me feeling sorry for myself and not my friends. I am going to log off and phone them to see if I can still go over there” Silverstar was curious about Swiftfellow and she clicked on him to read his profile, but nothing happened, no information. ‘Second Life playing up again’ she thought. She would check up on this avatar tomorrow, but for now she had to log off and join her real life friends in their Christmas celebrations.

Silverstar’s friends were delighted that she had decided to go over to see them and they had such a lovely Christmas Eve together, that they even talked her into coming to Christmas dinner the next day, she felt truly loved. Logging into SL on Christmas morning she searched for Swiftfellow Henshaw’s name, but it came up ‘not found’. She couldn’t make it out at all, and opening internet explorer, did a ‘Google’ search on Swiftfellow. His name did come up, quite a few pages on him, all very sad, his name was Richard Smitheson in real life and he had tragically died from a heart attack three months earlier. Linden Labs had been informed and had closed his account so that no one else could use his avatar.

Silverstar sat staring at her laptop in shock and disbelief, she had met an angel, the ghost of an avatar and a real life soul who had wanted to give her a message. She understood now, it was all up to her, she could go on feeling sorry for herself or make a great future with the help of her friends. “Thank you Swiftfellow” she said aloud as tears filled her eyes, she would never forget the caring avatar who looked out for her on Christmas Eve.


By Janey Bracken (and a very merry Christmas to all our readers)

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

It's Christmas Eve Already!


Well Hibiscus and I have been working hard all year and we hope you have enjoyed the Virtually London Blog so far. We would Like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and an extremely happy New Year, in both real life and Second Life. It’s been a pretty exciting year for us reporting on the ups and downs (only a few downs, but lots of ups!) of SL London, and we have both come to the conclusion that it’s the best place in the entire Second Life grid.

Of course the year is not over yet!!! I spoke to Events Manager Feebe Fearne, who told me that there will be a fantastic party in the London Underground Club, Knightsbridge on New Year’s Eve. She said that there will be a live singer (maybe two) performing that night, and to round the evening off, there will be fireworks in each of the five London sims, to cover the different time zones of our world wide visitors and residents. What a lovely idea!!! I will tell you more about New Year’s Eve as I find out more. I have heard though, that the event is kicking off with a live singer at 12pm (SLT), that’s 8pm (GMT).

Don’t forget to give me or Hib your names to enter the best decorated home in SL London contest, remember L$4000 would be a nice amount for the SL January Sales if you win, all you have to do is drop us an IM and we will do the rest!!

Well eat, drink and be merry, but remember eating and drinking in SL is less fattening, so come in-world and have a good time in the London Underground Club over the Christmas holidays, as all the DJ’s and hosts will be very pleased to see you! Me and Hib are sneaking off now for a glass of wine and a mince pie!!!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Party Fun At The Underground Club

The Underground Club Annual Christmas party took place on Friday, Dec. 19. One of the highlights was a live performance by the SL Go-Go’s, which, despite the usual sl hurdles, was extremely popular and got everyone dancing to such hits as “Vacation” and “Our Lips are Sealed”. After that a best dressed elf and Santa contest took place. Bernadette Halostar won the women’s competition, while Blaze Menizah and Truths Marder split the men’s prize.

The club itself was festively decorated and attendance was high, peaking around 48. Gifts and prizes were donated by many of the merchants around the London sims. @Designs donated a unisex outfit including a sweater, cap and pants to get everyone in the winter mood (see Virtually London (lite) Dec. 19). The Underground Club even had a bear to give out made especially for the occasion. Many avatars wore outfits in keeping with the event and it was a great start to the holiday party season. Congratulations to the organizers and djs for hosting another successful party.


Hibiscus Hastings









Monday, 22 December 2008

Taking New Girl Pixi Shopping


As large amounts of newbies are joining Second Life, you can’t fail to meet someone new most days if you are walking through the London sims. On the 5th December I had been taking pictures of a new gallery in the sim, when I noticed pixi Piers. She came over to say hello and I could see she was only a few days old, so I asked her how she was getting on. pixi is friendly and nice to talk to, and after a short chat I left, leaving pixi to find her way round. I saw pixi a few days later and I was very impressed with her, she had tried to make the most of her appearance, she had a pretty face and had given herself an ‘hour-glass’ figure as well as making the best of the clothes that she had managed to get. I think the thing that I liked the most though, was the fact that she was exploring the grid, finding interesting places, she told me she had just been to the Japanese sim. Lots of new people seem to want to be told what to do, and have no sense of adventure, but pixi seemed different to the others.

I got chatting again and pixi mentioned that she longed to have nice hair, and I remembered when I was new and saw other people with long flowing locks, and how I envied them, wondering how they managed to look like that. I decided to give pixi a fashion makeover, as I felt that she had tried so hard herself, and deserved a good start in SL. I invited her over to a really good hair store that I know, and we had fun as I let her pick the style she fancied. It’s not easy being new and I had to explain how she could try the ‘demo’ hair on before she made up her mind (most shops don’t charge for ‘demo’ hair, although some do charge L$1, ‘demo’ hair usually is attached to a big box that hovers over your head to stop you wearing it as normal hair, but it gives you a good idea if the style will suit you). pixi soon spotted a style that she liked, and then had to make up her mind whether she wanted to be a blonde, brunette or redhead, she settled for a blond. It was a good choice, the hairstyle she chose was combed to one side, falling in curls over one shoulder. Hair of all things transforms an avatar, and pixi looked a million dollars.

I told pixi that our next stop would be a great UK fashion house, and I think she had a job taking it all in, as we teleported over there. The store took a while to rez for her, but she soon started looking round. She picked a nice outfit with black pants and a white top with a smart belted coat over it. I told her to pick a second outfit as well, and she wisely went for separates that she could mix and match, a nice waistcoat and pants set.

Next stop was to get her some shoes, pixi was excited and a little fazed that all this was happening to her, but we had lots of fun shopping. We went to another smart store and she opted for a pair of long white boots, nicely made sculptie ones, that she could wear with the calf of the boots, tucking the pants in, or without the calf, wearing them under the pants. I explained to pixi that the ‘shoe base’ in her new boots folder (in her inventory) had to be worn, as this hides the shape of the avatars foot, moulding the foot to the shape of the shoe/boot (avatars feet are all flat without heels as if you are walking bare foot, so the shape has to be altered by applying transparent textures to give the foot a heel etc). Most good shoe shops in SL offer ‘demo’ shoes so that you can try them before you purchase them. It’s quite difficult taking a new person shopping as there is so much you take for granted that the newbie has not experienced, and I do try not to overload people with information too soon, but it makes you realise just how much there is to learn. Although saying that, they are all fun things and shopping is the best!!

pixi no longer looks like a newbie, she looks beautiful and very smart, and I hope she enjoyed the ‘make over’ as much as I did taking her to the shops. I asked pixi if she would mind writing her first thoughts about coming into SL London and she has put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard!!) and written her account of her first steps as an avatar, which I will publish this week. Don’t be surprised to see pixi’s contributions to Virtually London (lite) in the near future, as she looks like she is really enjoying her second life and I am hoping she will share some of her adventures with us.


Saturday, 20 December 2008

Highways Department Blight To Christmas!


Well it’s nearly Christmas and you would think there would be peace and serenity in the London sims wouldn’t you. Well I suppose there is, except for the Highways Department that is!!!

For a couple of months now I have had to put up with the SL London ‘Anti Drink and Drive Campaign’ display of a road crash just outside my apartment. The gruesome virtual display of the road crash, with burning vehicles and flashing lights from fire engines and ambulances, makes the area feel like a circus instead of my home. To top it all, one of the casualties appears to be floating in the air between the houseboats and the apartment block, suspended in time after being catapulted from the crash no doubt!

You may wonder why I have suddenly picked today to bring this subject up, well I logged on this morning and spotted a message informing us that the road maintenance in Chelsea is to start on the 22 December, so it looks like my lovely SL Chelsea will be subject to more upheaval in the few days we have left till Christmas, when the area should be looking great with its beautifully decorated homes and snowy park areas. There should be carolling and shopping for gifts, nice walks along the embankment on fresh frosty mornings, not ‘Men at Work’ signs and pneumatic drills making a racket. Well, I have had my moan for today!! If any of you SL London residents reading this have anything that makes you unhappy in the virtual capital, perhaps you would like to let me know!!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Christmas Party Tonight and Free Gift


Just to remind you that the Christmas Party is on tonight at the London Underground Club, Knightsbridge from 12 noon SLT (8pm GMT). I just went over to Knightsbridge and there is a wonderful free gift donated by '@ Design' who have a boutique just across from the Underground club. I am wearing the free outfit in the above picture, its a lovely unisex jumper and cap with dark pants to match, so hurry over to the club and pick it up, the outfit is under a Christmas tree just inside the door. See you later at the party!!!

Judges Confirmed for L$4000 Competition


The judges have been confirmed for the ‘best festively decorated home in SL London’ competition. We are honoured to have Saffia Widdershins, owner and Editor of Prim Perfect Magazine, MOlly Dench, Editor of Runway Magazine and Brie Janick, SL London Director.

Don’t forget, the competition is on now and you could win L$4000 to start 2009 with!! All you have to do to enter is send an IM message or note card to either Janey Bracken or Hibiscus Hastings, giving your full avatar name and the location of your home in SL London. Good Luck!

(Picture shown is a beautiful Christmas Tree outside Gustavus Hapmouche's store, please note though that the competition is open only to residential homes and not to commercial properties in SL London).

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Collect the London Bears


Bears have invaded the London sims! But that’s ok, because these are the collectible kind. According to Debs Regent the idea came about because of the Linden bears. “The Lindens all make bears when they become a Linden so we thought it was a cool idea and decided on making our own versions, the London bears. Each bear represents an aspect of London and is personal to the bear owner.” Debs’s bear is dressed like a queen. Debs commented that “they all call me Queenie here”, but her bear is also a tribute to Princess Diana because Debs is, as she says, “a huge Diana fan who was the Princess of Hearts and (I) would love to be like her as much as possible so really, it's a princess bear, princess of hearts because I aspire to that as far as I can anyway.” Brie Jannick’s bear is dressed in a nurse’s uniform, because Brie in rl is a nurse. However, the bear also represents the sl side of Brie, so it is “nurse by day rock chick by night”. Her sl husband Seany1235 Blinker’s bear has a real punk side to him and goes well with his rocker chick wife.

Das Wade and Cleopatra Charleville also have bears. Das’s is dressed as a beefeater. Originally his idea was to have a grenadier guard bear since Das’s father is a retired grenadier guard. However, it morphed into a beefeater, also very appropriate, because “Beef eaters are the protectors and keepers of London (well the Tower anyway) so I think he reflects me in that way. I work closely with Debs Regent in rl and sl and I’m here to protect and look after all affairs to do with sl London.” Cleo’s bear is very cutting edge and depicts Cleo’s keen interest in fashion.

Feebe Fearne’s bear is also very fashionable, sporting a stylish “bearet” on her head. And Cherish Demonge’s bear, Winston, wears a hat, too, but his is a bowler, because according to Cher “(Winston) has a bowler hat like all Londoners should have”. The bear is named after Winston Churchill.

So these are some of the bears who have invaded sl London. They reflect the individuals behind them, as well as the history and atmosphere of the great capital.


Hibiscus Hastings