“Life is always a bit better” with homemade pie on the side.
When we first arrived, the Lakehouse was an all male domain. Every meal was a battle of wits. Drinks and serious strategy over Monopoly became our evening routine. There’s been live music played and sang by Tom and James. The empires were born and ceased to exist, and the first month of our stay at Lakehouse at Toyako quickly came to an end. Whiles multitasking Taiwanese Johan wandered off to his next WWOOF host, we welcomed Arndt and Christine from Germany. Imanol, who we met in Sandakan found his way to our host after his previous project appeared to be an absolute mistake… People come and go. Antoine and Evelina (French-Lituanian couple of wonderful helpers and even better friends!) joined Lakehouse for the month of August. And the super team was complete! We not only worked well together, we enjoyed that of course, but also we spent our time off as if on the best holidays with bunch of friends. Jumping off or sumo-wrestling on the White Island we created from a floating raft on the Lake, watching old classic movies in our helpers’ living room or discovering Haikyo (廃墟 – ruins, abandonned place) on the weekend trips.
Don’t get me wrong though – work at Lakehouse at Toyako is not all fun and holidaying – it’s a real work indeed. There’s no room for bungling and your effort is obviously expected. So if you’re not ready for the hard work, just pass on this one. But if you have some useful skills like gardening (summer months), maintenance, landscaping, painting, construction and such – go for it. You’ll find yourself in a magical place and that’s enough of a reward.
To all those with cooking talent – the kitchen is awesome! And if you’re up for a challenge, there might be a decent group of people looking forward to your creative dishes (more than a few times the number of people exceeded 15!)
And that’s how we move to the kitchen stories. After July was over and the garden required less of my attention, I tended to spend more time indoors – busy with domestic chores, wall & ceiling painting and later on working on the website with Arek (he’s the design guy, I’m just proofreading/editing text and making sure all the copyrights are mentioned when neccessary). Every few days we also had some friendly guests, and the owner Jonny with his lovely wife Aiuko and daughter Jasmine arrived too.
All this can lead to one thing – I love baking for people! As Evelina once said while assisting in melon cake preparations: baking is an amazing skill as cake is the natural and honest way to make others at least a little bit happy.
I am lucky enough to have that skill and it’s always a pleasure to bake for others. Whether it’s a gloomy, rainy evening or just a quiet weekend afternoon – there’s never a bad moment to cheer everyone up with chocolate banana bread. The baking aromas wander all around the house and you smile even if you were annoyed before.
I’m in constant awe of how cake can make people happy, how it brings people together and allow them to cherish the moment. It’s magic. One day Jonny mentioned the movie that had been filmed recently by Lake Toya. Bread of Happiness tells the magical story about a couple running bakery/cafe nearby. With his homemade baked bread and her fresh simple dishes to compliment the bread they share the love, the goodness and the magic. Just like we did at Lakehouse at Toyako.
So what’s the secret to a nearly perfect project? The recipe is easy:
1. Bring together many ingredients – a variety of responsibilities helps to keep it interesting
2. Add a melting pot of helpers from all around the world
3. Stir well and mix until they smoothly become friends
4. Good cake needs love and attention to grow – so do people, be sweet and you’ll be surprised with the outcome
5. And don’t look for perfection – homemade cake is never as ideal as the one from the factory but it’s got the human touch to it!
Some memories will fade away. Most likely the not ideal ones. But the laughs, songs and jumps to the lake will stay. And above all of them, I’ll keep in my mind the goodbye berry pie we so gladly shared. Saying goodbye is not so bad. The world is a tiny place, no goodbye is definite. It just gives the temporary chance to meet more new people and visit new places. Like berry pie, a little sour but adds taste to life. Besides “Life is always a bit better” with berry pie on the side, isn’t it?