"Standing on the path alone, I decided to take this image that really summed up exactly how I felt at that time - alone but relaxed; calm but a little unsure of what lay ahead; apprehensive but seeing glimmers of light and hope on the horizon. What lies around that bend in the road?"
What I love about The Hague is that it really has everything - street cafes, restaurants, cosy neighbourhoods, a multi-cultural environment, entertainment, history, beaches and of course the dunes. I've written before about how much I love the dunes in my ebook*, but it really is a relaxing place to go for a walk or to cycle, to sit or stroll on the beach or have a coffee (or Heineken!) in one of the beach cafes.
When I took this photo, like a few of my others, it was just the start of the coronavirus shutdown. If you read my last blog post about lockdown, you'll remember that I talked about jumping on an empty bus to go and take photos - well, this was one of them! Naturally, in the summer it can get busy here but no matter when you go, you get all the positive benefits from being out in the fresh sea air and being surrounded by nature.
At this time, I knew a crossroads was ahead of me in terms of where I will be living going forward and I was anxious about many things that were playing on my mind, including current ongoing events. The slowed-down pace of life was something I was grateful for and there really is no better therapy than getting out in a beautiful place with the camera!
After getting off the bus in the small village of Duindorp, I always take a stony path through a gate and into the dunes, towards beach number 11. The sun was peeping through the clouds and it was a cool, bright March day and I still needed my winter coat. I wondered if anyone else would be there; the uncertainty of the virus meant that people were naturally afraid right now - supermarkets were selling out and people were starting to stay at home.
For me, it felt so liberating to do something I rarely got the chance to do - get out early in the morning light with my camera, and it was somehow calming.
The dunes are very desert-like; birds sing and hide in the shrubbery, while patches of long grasses are scattered over the uneven, sandy landscape. The only sound I heard was that of the gravel beneath my feet, and unusually, there was very little breeze. In this area there are a lot of apartments and holiday homes that look out across the dunes, and it is quite an idyllic place to escape to in its own way. Eventually I reached the footpath and cycle track and the sea appeared in front of me, calm and deep blue. The beach lay at the end of a sloping path (where a currently closed beach bar silently waited for the chance to reopen again).
Like me, some people were out to enjoy the fresh air and uncrowded environment. Some had brought their kids, now that schools were closed. But it was quiet. Occasionally a cyclist came along past me. I strolled for a while on the winding path, just taking in the peace and fresh air, occasionally passing other walkers. My phone rang - it was my friend. I told her I was in the dunes and how wonderful it was to be there.
This scene jumped out at me, as the sky changed rapidly from cloudy to sunny and back again. Standing on the path alone, I decided to take this image that really summed up exactly how I felt at that time - alone but relaxed; calm but a little unsure of what lay ahead; apprehensive but seeing glimmers of light and hope on the horizon. What lies around that bend in the road? From the imprints in the sand, it was clear that a vehicle, an animal (probably a horse) and perhaps a runner had all passed by before me. Like many things in life, you take the path alone but there is always someone who has walked it before you.
I love the tones in this image, particularly of the grasses and the wooden fence posts, that capture the beauty and simplicity of this place. It's definitely an image that generates feelings of freedom, the same as I felt as I walked there that day.
It's a picture that for me represents the hope and uncertainty of what lies ahead but there's also some excitement in taking that path and finding out what is around the corner.
What does it make you feel when you look at this picture? Write a comment below, I would love to know! If you know anyone else who you think would enjoy it, please do share it with them or on social media!
You can find this picture in my 'Sea, Beach and Dunes' gallery, where it's also available to buy in many different formats.
*When you sign up for my newsletter on my home page, you will get a link to download my ebook "9 of My Favourite Photos and the Stories Behind Them", where I tell the stories of some of my best photos!