Funny how it works. The tiny Aegean island of Skyros (population 3000 today, probably never above 5000 and that peak reached in pre-history) has the standard order white-walled streets, turquoise water, rocky slopes and clanging goats. It is difficult to imagine the banks of the lower Thames or other wrecked bits of the English landscape looking quite this splendid. Many photographers, far more skilled than I will ever be, have tried.
In the nineteenth century they mined iron in those rocky hills. There’s still plenty of it about: the pebbles and cliffs of the surrounding beaches are red with it. It became uneconomic to drag out, relying as it did on expensive crushing for transport via narrow gauge railways through the pine forests, over the ravines and across stone towers out to sea where it could be poured into ships’ holds for transport north. The battlement in this picture is one such tower, though the railway is long gone.
After the iron, the indigenous pine forest was farmed for its resinous rubber. You can still find trees with the cut back rectangle, the attached metal cup poised for the drip from the now-healed wounds. That venture too ran out of steam.
Now the island farms tourists, both domestic and foreign. Of course, the pressure in that turbine is pretty low right now. Do the euro and the Greeks a favour and go on holiday there immediately.