January 29th 2020
I have just landed back in England after a few days in Hong Kong. Sentences and structured word expressions often fail me in being able to convey what rages inside during these days but I will try to express some part in words and images.
This time in Hong Kong to photograph the Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge 2020 was the first since I left this special place that I have called home for around forty years. I reluctantly left last year when my world collapsed upon losing my beautiful soul mate Gabbie. We married twenty three years ago in Hong Kong and I am inconsolable with missing her. Many have said to me: “time will heal” and “give it time…” It has been six months, two weeks and five days since I said “Goodbye my love, until next time” and grief continues with its’ cruel daily fashion of crushing and choking without reprieve.
I flew to Hong Kong with the sole purpose of photographing the Four Trails. There are two reasons why I flew back for this event: firstly, Andre and Paper Blumberg (founders & organisers of the Four Trails) have done so much for my sweet Gabbie, Anya & myself. These are acts of kindness that will remain off the radar. Andre and Paper have been selfless, generous and gone so many extra miles in terms of our friendship that I wanted to show simple gratitude in one of the very few ways that I am able to at this point; to pick up my cameras for the first time since April 2019 (since working for Strava at UTMF ) and photograph this event that means a lot to me and to both of them.Secondly: Gabbie wholly supported me during our lives together whether that be pursuing my dreams, work ambitions and so much more. The Four Trails was an event that she supported more than any other because she gave up her Chinese New Year every year to allow me to photograph or film it. She also came to be with me in 2018 as I worked on the event. My wife is proudly Taiwanese. Her Chinese culture and history mean a great deal to her. Sharing festivals with our daughter Anya & myself brought her much joy and so for her to sacrifice our family time during Chinese New Year cannot be underestimated. It moved me every year when she said it was okay for me to go and photograph the Four Trails. In a way, I have always given a few extra percentage points to this event in terms of energy and heart, just because I knew what Gabbie was sacrificing for me to be there. By returning to photograph the Four Trails this year, I wanted to honour her support and the sacrifices that she made for this special event.
I will be awkwardly transparent and say that these past few days in Hong Kong have been incredibly difficult. I have shed many, many tears. Some of these moments I could not hide although I tried very hard. I had to take a break and walk away from the crowds while taking the portraits at the start line under the flyover in Tuen Mun as I was overcome with emotion. With every fibre in my being, I dearly wanted Gabbie to be there by my side. The finishing line also brought a wave of inconsolable grief. Most of these moments were in private as I ran alone to locations to head off runners and connected with Gabbie in my way. Each photograph that I have taken over these past three days for the Four Trails have my sweet Gabbie indelibly weaved into those images as I thought about her while pressing the shutter button.
I am so grateful for the friends and community in Hong Kong that have been so kind to me and not just over the past few days. As a way of an update for those who I have not spoken to: Anya & I currently live in North Yorkshire (UK) while she studies at the University of York. We have decided to stay together during these difficult times. Except for a short stint as a food courier, I have not worked since April last year as I simply have not been ready. I have recently started to look for some work and was fortunate to be offered a temporary part-time position as a university lecturer in the UK. I am also starting an online course to mentor and teach photography skills to a small cohort of people that I can work closely with. The response to this has been very encouraging. If you follow my photography page on facebook and trying to find me through there then you might have worked out that I have withdrawn from using social media. Although I can be found posting a tweet every now and then. If I have anything to share then it will be here on this website.
To close, here are some of the images that I have taken for the Four Trails over the past few days.
For my beautiful Gabbie…