I’m not a fan of Leonard Cohen but I am a fan of the Greek island connected to his early fame. Hydra is where Leonard went as a young poet with little money but an earnest zeal to work on his art. Most of us know the rest of the story. Hydra’s calm gave him the peace to write Flowers for Hitler and Beautiful Losers, and it is where he met his most famous muse Marianne.

I probably know more than the average non-fan about Cohen. Primarily, because I edited The Water and the Wine by Tamar Hodes, a novel set on Hydra in the sixties. This fictionalised account of Tamar’s childhood on Hydra tells much of life behind the scenes. Her parents had left a kibbutz in Israel and taken her and her brother to the island to follow their own artistic leanings. As fate played it, Leonard, Marianne, Charmain Clift and other artists were neighbours. It might sound idyllic, galivanting to a Greek island and leaving your children with a round-the-clock nanny so that you can follow your artistic whim. But the way Tamar tells it bohemian freedom was too much for some, and many strayed far from the path that prioritised taking care of home and family.

Tamar’s life turned out well – she has a degree in English from Cambridge and teaches at universities and prisons. However, the other expat children did not fare so well. Drug use and mental illness plagued many of their lives.

Today, Hydra still attracts those who want to write, paint or just think – a recent Times article referred to it as an island for the ‘arty elite’. Personally, I do my best work on the island, and friends smile with recognition when I refer to it as ‘my happy place.’ There are no cars, motorbikes, or other jarring noises. Instead, peacefulness permeates and it is easy to feel lighter as you scale the steps from the port (although the heart rate may work at twice speed to get you there).