Coll The Coll Magazine

Article by Emma Grant (2005)

House in the Hebrides
John Ogg’s book, "House in the Hebrides" is a delightful account of one man and his family’s discovery of the Island of Coll. Visiting in the early 1960s with the thought of finding a house to renovate, John and Doreen Ogg fell in love with the island. It was not until their second visit that they found the ruin of their dreams…Port-na-Luing.
John recounts in humorous fashion the trials and tribulations of making the house habitable. With tales of how to correctly bend a copper pipe, some hints and tips on plumbing plus personal stories of social encounters and escapades, the book can be enjoyed on many levels. Anyone who has spent any time doing practical work on a building will appreciate the highs and lows described and will find themselves grinning at some of the slightly unorthodox methods employed by the Oggs.
At its heart, however, this book is a historical snapshot (or reel of film!) of Coll in the 1960s. Many stories are historical in character. Others are written as current events of the 1960s. Reading these in 2005 firmly places that moment in history. John is talking of a time when Coll had a laird living at Acha, when there was only one pump on the village, when the wrecking of the Nevada was part of the collective living memory. It is amazing how much has changed.
Yet the passing of human stories into the realms of history only further accentuates the timeless quality of Coll’s natural history. John writes of the luxuriant machair, the fact that it never really gets dark in June, and the pleasure of fishing at sea. All of these things are as true today as they were forty years ago.
The last chapter swiftly brings the reader more up to date with life on Coll. In so doing, it allows us to bear witness that John and Doreen’s building methods have stood the test of time. Their children, now grown ups with kids of their own, still frequent the island, bringing light and laughter back to Port-na-Luing.
“House in the Hebrides” is a welcome addition to the Coll bookshelf, whether that shelf resides on the island or further afield!
Coll Magazine - Article by Emma Grant

Home | Original Issues | Authors | Images | Contact | Search

©2007 The Coll Magazine