- Posted on 23rd May 2011 by Nicola Holden
I have been a bit quiet on the old social networking side of things over the past month, but not without good reason! I left London at the beginning of April to spend time with my family who have chosen Australia as their home. I started my time here in Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, where my brother, Steve, lives. On the 9th April, on a warm, sunny day, he married the beautiful Sonya, much to the delight of Michael, his six year old son. My sister had also flown out from Ireland to celebrate the occasion, and it was the first time in seven years that the three siblings and my father had all been together – very special!
After the wedding my sister flew home to her husband and four boys, and Steve and Sonya disappeared off on honeymoon to Fiji for a week, leaving me in charge of Michael!! Once they were back, and I had helped Steve move out of his home and into Sonya’s, I headed north to the little town of Maleny where my father lives.
At the end of last year, my father was diagnosed with cancer, and quite soon afterwards he suffered a couple of complications, which resulted in hospitalisation and had us all wondering if he would pull through. But, pull through he did, and he is stoically soldiering on.
As I have mentioned before, my father and step-mother own a rather lovely little gallery in Maleny, Holden’s Gallery, that sells wonderful arts and crafts, and specialises in bespoke picture framing. Dad’s diagnosis couldn’t have come at a worse time for them as they had just sold their house and were living in rented accommodation until they could build an extension onto the shop to house the picture framing workshops, and then convert the old workshops into a new home for them. However, the change in circumstances meant that this has now been done by reducing the gallery space somewhat.
The gallery building is a beautiful Queenslander that was originally built as a Church in 1907. It was then moved to its current location in 1957 and extended with a Church hall, which is where the new living space will be. By the time I arrived here towards the end of April, the new workshops had been created, and the gallery had only just been compressed into its new location, although there was still a lot of work to do there to transform it into an eye-catching space again.
Since I have been here we have moved the workshops into their new space, completely separating them from the living space. We got movers in to move all the big equipment, but the rack upon rack of picture frame moulding was moved by yours truly! A couple of days of back breaking work!!
No sooner had this been completed then my step-mother got on a plane headed to the UK to visit her family and have some much needed rest and relaxation! This has meant that I am now responsible for running the shop and helping Dad out in the workshops where I can, as well as supervising the builders who are working on the house, advising on lighting schemes, and room layouts, etc, cooking the evening meals, and looking after Dad through his first two sessions of chemotherapy! Not surprising then that when I turn on my laptop at the end of a long day I am usually too exhausted to even think about connecting with the outside world. But, I do know that my help here is greatly appreciated, and it has been lovely spending time with Dad, and also good fun. I have been using all of my skills here – from my time at Ford Motor Company to advise on process improvements and layouts for the workshops, to my passion for interior design now in the choosing of colours and textures when helping customers with their picture framing, and helping with the plans for the living space and gardens in the new house.
I am here for another three weeks – scarily little time when I consider what I would like to achieve before I head home. When I return to London I promise to get back into the swing of chatting more!