I visited Iraklia in 1991. Ever since I had first passed through the small Cyclades on the Marianna back in 1985 I had wanted to visit them so I decided to visit one on each holiday. No, decided is too definite a word, it was convenient to fit them in one at a time, arriving on the Skopelitis on a Tuesday and leaving on the Thursday evening. I soon discovered that on the smaller islands there was not that much to detain me long. With a longer holiday I might have decided to stay longer. The alternative, Thursday to Tuesday, might be a little too long, especially having (as I then did) only a couple of weeks in Greece.

The smaller Cyclades are changing. Since I went to Iraklia the harbour has been increased at least once. it is pleasant to see the island apparently prospering. I had my doubts as to how comfortable or modern the accommodation would be. I need not have worried. We stayed at the Restaurant Rooms Anna, a largish taverna with big outside terrace, and an adjoining single storey block of about 8 rooms, leading off a garden area. All had modern shower rooms. Modern pine furniture - far better equipped than I expected to find. In winter (or outside high and mid season) the owners retreated to Santorini. If all accommodation owners hibernate, the small islands would be best avoided in winter. In late September at least, the taverna was closed from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and in the afternoon there was nowhere to buy food or drink in Ag. Giorgios (and the tavernas by the beach over the hill were closed completely), so I had to be prepared! As so often with rooms attached to tavernas, there was no fridge, to encourage me to buy drinks from the taverna, but with the taverna shut…..I had to make do with lukewarm (or not so lukewarm) drinks.

I found the island delightfully unspoilt but do winder how many tourists there are in peak season and how the islanders cope.

There are three main centres to Iraklia, the houses near the harbour, the buildings around the bay over the hill, and the little uphill Chora of Panayia. When I was there the centres were linked more by a track than a road, and the only wheeled transport was the baker's tractor (the bakery was in Chora). In 1996 I was told that there was now a motorway sized road on Iraklia [I have since been told that the road has again been widened]. I noticed a few years ago that the people running Restaurant Rooms Anna had acquired a truck. When I was there I had read that there was a risk of the island being completely depopulated, and the school closing through lack of children. Things do seem to be looking up for Iraklia.

I walked on paths between Agios Giorgios and Panayia. Down at Livadia beach I paddled (unusually for me, but there was little else to distract me!). I noticed that the fish there bit, but the fish were about an inch long and had teeth in proportion!

Panayia was an attractive village making no concessions to tourism; it was so small that it was not possible to get lost. Perhaps Panayia had less of a problem with pirates than other islands? There were two small kafeneions, a bakery, a church and a school. There was a smell of goat around Panayia.

I noticed a remarkably large cat population on Iraklia. At Restaurant Anna in the evening I often saw a circle of cats nuzzling in onto some choice titbit, and it was fun watching the emerging pecking order and deciding which cat would pounce and gain the prize of a fish head etc.

I did not want nightlife, but the opportunity to go for a walk after dinner and find a cafe or bar and have a leisurely drink of coffee and Metaxa is pleasant . In the smaller Cyclades there was not the opportunity to do that.