The Gurgle

The journey of a foodie with a gut disease.

Food is a big part of every culture. Providing food is a caring gesture. “Build a bigger table, not a higher fence.”

I tooted a few weeks ago about the atrocious fish and chips in the work canteen. It was a shocker because you have to go out of your way to make bad food in Ireland. If you eat dairy, why would you hate yourself so much and get “omg, this is totally not butter” butter instead of Dairygold (#teamDairygold. Kerry Gold can go hang)?

Ha ha, let us joke about how bland food is here. Stop. It isn't dull; you just eat poorly made food.

My point is that there is good food and good ingredients readily available. You do not have to go out of your way to prepare fabulous meals. You do, however, have to go out of your way to find an Iceland to buy shite frozen meals. Food is expensive. All food is. But with a world-class dairy and beef industry, you have to try really hard to cook lousy food. We have The English Market in the city, and most of the food in the supermarkets is Irish. It’s just extraordinary to me that a restaurant would go out of its way to be bad at cooking.

Would you believe it? This post is a restaurant review. I needed all that above to get you here. So, I'll finally start. There's a whole junction in Cork City called The Angler's Rest. It is named after a pub just down the road from it. There's no point in telling people you were stuck in traffic there. Because everyone west of Cork City is stuck in traffic there. Nope, you're not at home eating a biscuit; you're stuck in traffic at Angler's Rest. Are you driving the ring of Kerry? Nope, you’re actually in traffic at Angler’s rest.

Just before the 'rona, The Angler's Rest pub had a revamp. It didn't look half bad. And they renamed it The Anglers. Ever since then, we have promised ourselves a dinner there. We were looking forward to adding another go-to restaurant to our “shit, the parents are visiting” list. Well, one Thursday night, we did it with friends.

The renovations were straight out of a Pinterest board, and the old building is completely stripped back to the external walls. Nothing has been left inside. The problem with influencer renovations is they start looking tired quickly. That teal green paint you picked is starting to show condensation drips. And those fake marble top tables are wobbling and scuffed. They had more gins at the bar than items on the menu. There was one vegetarian option. If I were to ask to remove the meat from a dish, there'd be nothing left.

I had the fish, which was as flavourful as a frozen Donegal catch fillet. Their dirty fries were just sriracha mixed with Helman's mayonnaise. (I will say my coffee was top-notch). We will ignore nausea and hot flush that hit me on the drive home. The meal for the four of us cost 120 EUR. They have an offer of a pint and pizza for 15 EUR. What is more offensive: The pizza costs 10 EUR, or the pint costs 5 EUR. And to keep on theme, the upstairs bathroom was stupid—one toilet, with the hand dryer above my left shoulder. If I moved, I was blown about. The entrance was in the hallway between the public area and the kitchens and was not signposted. All over the top floor were random doors with fire exit signs. In my haste to find the bog, I opened all of them. The throne itself was just a little bit higher than was comfortable. And just like the rest of the building, it was decorated like a photo someone saw on the internet. It wanted to be a bigger room, but the design made it oppressive and uncomfortable instead.

I can't stress this enough. It is challenging to get bad food in Ireland. Even the takeaways are unreal. But why would you spend so much to do so much to an iconic place and then have Wetherspoons food? The Anglers is now under the category of Food After Church. Or Dinner After Communion. You're not there for the food but for the chats instead. But, considering how fake 90% of family gatherings are, you'd be in for a very dull few hours in The Anglers. Don’t take your life into your hands crossing the road from the car park. Drive further down the road and go to The Blairs Inn instead.

Beir bua agus beannacht.


I have had many cameras look inside my body. I have had keyhole surgery. I have had all the scans and the liquids required for them. But I have never swallowed a camera and carried a small tv screen around with me before October 2022. It was the most exciting and wonderful 8 hours. However, the preceding 24 hours SUCKED.

Just because it's a pill didn't mean I didn't have to go through the hell that is MoviPrep A and B the day before. Pharmaceutical companies must stop trying to flavour products—especially those which are heavily salty. MoviPrep is either lemon or orange. Go ahead, have some orange squash, and dump a rake of salt into it. Now drink a litre of that in 20 minutes. Then in about four hours, while the world is falling out of your arse, do it again. I hope that no one has to experience that.

The following morning I was as clean as a whistle. If I had burped, I would have sucked my trousers up. I could have farted Amhrán na bhFiann.

It was the GI Pill Cam by GIVEN Imaging. The capsule was slightly larger than one of the pills I already took. The aim was to look at the part of my GI Tract which an endoscopy and colonoscopy couldn’t reach. That bit in the middle. No man's land. The Maginot Line.

Image: Green-coloured curved stripes behind a female. An inset image of the casing of the GI PillCam. The female is the author. She is wearing black and a graphic t-shirt. She has a strap across her chest and a large band across her waist. There’s a small satchel on her hip and some blue wires. She is wearing a surgical mask.

It reached my stomach in the time it took to swallow and get the gear on. I watched in amazement. That was my insides. That is part of me no one should be seeing. After my child-like joy subsided, I felt exposed. And a bit fatalistic. The up-scope and down-scopes were invasive, painful, and dehumanising. But this was passive. It was working away while I was working away. I could flip up the wee screen and have a sconce.

I “bottom's up” at about 8 am. And I had to return at 4 pm to hand over the screen and receiver. Only two places in Ireland do this procedure, and the Mercy in Cork City is one of them. The team also posts it to remote communities for patients who can't travel to Cork or Dublin. And this is hilarious for non-medical reasons.

After I had returned the receiver and small computer at 4 pm, the pill cam appeared at 11 pm in a plop and flashing of lights. As is my way, I fished it out, cleaned it up, and cleaned it up again the following morning. And kept it. But in these remote communities, the patients often wear the receiver when this happens. My gastro consultant told me they get the imagery back, which carries on recording until the little battery runs out. So yes, they get the photo of the patient looking in the toilet. They get the picture of them running into the kitchen/living room/garden to show the family. And they get the photo of the whole gang looking at and passing the capsule around. I like that. All the lads got of me was my inside. At least these patients get to show the outside and the excitement and hope that this little thing will help find a cure—or even just some relief of their symptoms.

I'm all clear. My consultant was surprised at its arrival at 11 pm. But overall happy with the whole journey. Nothing showed up; everything was in tip-top condition. So what the feck is going on in there?

Beir bua agus beannacht.


I suppose review is the wrong word to use. I will not be presenting a selection of toilet paper so you can make better buying decisions. I won't spend a small fortune to buy each brand and rate them as if I am a contributor to However, it might be helpful if you are in a position like mine. When there is discomfort, pain, and a sense of fed-upness, toilet paper is another thing that can worsen the whole experience. And it shouldn't be so hard to get right.

Right up there at the top of the aptly named Shit List is quilted toilet paper. Quilted toilet paper can play in traffic. Quilted toilet paper is a disappointment. It is letterpressed papier mache for your arse. It is the thing that Hyacinth Bucket buys for the guest toilet, thinking people will be impressed with it. You get less of it on a roll because it's so thick. I do not need to wipe my arse with the water-closet equivalent of that blue canvas crash mat we all had in our secondary school gyms.

When it comes to toilet paper, the a-game is surface area. Ply is secondary. When you add more sheets and stamp kitten faces on them, the problem I have is blocked plumbing. For the same reason that you do not flush the kitchen roll down the bog: it sets like concrete. And then, if you live in a place like Tenerife, the bin beside your throne fills up with crap-covered Koalas.

(Tenerife toilets only flush body waste).

Of course, there's the other end of the spectrum where your method of maintenance is airmail paper from the 1930s. I am happy if it remains structurally sound under pressure, cleans, and doesn't block the pipes. But the anxiety ramps when you sit down and see the roll of baking paper crammed into a white Kimberly dispenser.

Regarding dispensers, I will also add the one-sheet-only ones to my room 101. You're not being clever or saving the polar bears. I pull more sheets just out of spite. My party trick is using those dispensers without having the sheets break up individually. Screw you and your miserable box of despair.

I should have known my life would be dominated by bowel movements when my aunt gave me an Andrex puppy teddy when I was born. An omen of sorts. Especially as that toy became “my teddy”. It now sits on top of a mirror in the bedroom. It doesn't judge; it is not evil. However, I wish I was given something less on-the-nose as a “welcome to earth” gift. I'm thinking a cuddly million Euros.

Beir bua agus beannacht.


The New Year has arrived. I always prefer to plan my new year towards the end of January. The new year is always a tough start. You're getting back into the swing of work. You're recharging your social battery. You're thinking about the social expectation of trying to improve yourself, do something new, or change.

This Christmas period was the first one (while employed) that I have had off. I am technically in the service industry, but the company isn't international. I have found that companies which are HQ’d outside Europe (cough-America-cough) push the always-on-and-always-working mentality. Not realising that by being available, they set the expectation of being open and then cannot close because their customers expect them always to be open. Having this be the first company I have worked for, which is very local, is proving positive in many ways.

The downside to this Christmas freedom is my social battery needs some severe recharging. Towards the end of the Christmas break, I was chewing at the bit to get back to work. I went from loving Christmas as a kid, missing it when I moved to Ireland, to going back to having it a family affair, to not enjoying it at all. I now prefer the big dinner somewhere in the middle of December with adult friends and family. One afternoon or evening. Be festive and then feck off. We used to do that and then *gesture at everything*. I get joy out of the whole season rather than the day. Previously I could fill up my batteries by returning to work on St. Stephen's Day (Boxing Day) and flooding myself with normalcy.

As such, this year, I didn't relax at all. And when I have wound myself up, the stomach twists as well. Christmas eve, I was ill, and on Christmas day, my mood had shifted enough that I wasn't able at all. And we left to come home early on St. Stephen's Day.

So, I started 2023 with industrial levels of gas production in a country experiencing a shortage of certain medications. One of which is the one for reducing gas and trapped wind. My only goal for 2023 is to continue the health journey in whichever form that takes. I hope to get some respite as I have a holiday planned, including an 8-hour flight. I am volunteering for the aisle seat for the first time.

I have added Colpermin to my regime and will continue bringing in the new year with my minty-fresh farts. It's okay if your New Year's resolution is to keep moving forward. In many ways, that is the only direction we can go. #entrance #exit

Beir bua agus beannacht.


The national food of Ireland is not stew, potatoes, or even bacon and cabbage. It's a Cuisine de France baguette with chicken. In Irish it's: “A Chicken Roll”.

It's eaten at any time, though in Cork, many prefer the breakfast roll in the morning (this will appear in another post). Uniquely in Ireland, there are delis in petrol stations and supermarkets. These are not fancy delis, as you'll not get feta-stuffed baby peppers in olive oil. Or anything other than grated catering cheese. These delis serve beige food. But when you're doing an early morning drive up to Limerick on the N20, it's precisely what the doctor ordered.

There's a ritual involved. And the training to make the rolls is extensive. On top of that, some places are better than others (shout out to Dano's Supervalu in Mallow). You grab your baguette and hand it over, saying, “chicken roll, please.” Though now I'm vegetarian, I used to have butter, coleslaw, plain chicken, and cheese. They squash it in. You have it cut in half (only serial killers don't). Finally, it's wrapped tighter than a sprained ankle, and you take the historic walk around the crisps and drinks aisle.

The chicken is a breaded breast, and I don't know what they do, but it is never dry and chewy. It has to be eaten on your lap, and you will lose some of it to gravity. There's a legend that when the US Army does its transfers in Shannon airport, a few of them escape down to the nearest petrol station for a chicken roll. Never mind the rolls, delis in petrol stations don't exist in England. At least not to this level and calibre. When visiting my parents, I miss getting food like The Chicken Roll. Service stations along the motorways are bland, unimaginative things. And they are certainly no patch on Barak Obama Plaza (oh yeah, real place).

When visiting Ireland, you have to do the petrol station deli. Don't go fancy; don't be tempted by any posh Dublin 4 shenanigans. It is an experience. It is a must-see. Get your chicken roll and sample Ireland's national dish. #entrance

Beir bua agus beannacht.


It is hilarious that we need to use the car to take all the animals to the kennels, not the Van. Yet here we are. And here I am doing my annual drive to work in Van Gogh.

Once a year, I hand off the Hyundai Kona in neon green to my husband. And I drive Van Gogh to work instead. It's a 171 VW Caddy. In a dark grey. This is crucial because I do not qualify for White Van Privileges. I have decided that my Christmas post will review the Volkswagen Caddy van.

My day begins with pushing the wrong button on the key fob. The switch to open the door on the Kona is the backdoor opening button on the Van. Once five minutes of that pass, I got into the Van. Like almost all vehicles, you have to have the clutch in to start. Like every feature like this, it was probably put in place because of a child. The Caddy provides another brief moment of panic before the rumble of the 1.9ltr diesel engine kicks in.

The Kona serenades you with a jingle when you get in, a beep for a temperature warning, another beep if the service is due, and, if you're fortunate, another one for fuel. The Van turns on with no fanfare. This is a win for me as it's not assuming you're an idiot from the get-go. Everything that has happened to this point is because I am an idiot.

I love the driving position in the Van and the steering wheel. The wheel is not entirely round; it is flat across the bottom, and the rim is more of a rounded triangle. This is much better than the smoothly round grip in the Kona. I feel much more about the Van when I am driving.

The drive to work is half in the cold and half in unbearable heat as it is tough to maintain a comfortable temperature in a metal box, despite this particular Caddy having a bulkhead. The speakers, though trying their best (aren't we all), still sound like a 1990's Alba stereo from Argos, in a church, playing my first Meat Loaf album.

My dad once test-drove a Land Rover Discovery in the early 2000s. And I loved the salesman. “I'm not going to lie. It has the aerodynamics of a brick”. This is the same for the Caddy. You cannot make a box on wheels aerodynamic. Then you lose the reason you have a box on wheels. The Van can probably do 0-10km faster than a Koenigsegg, but then you run out of gear and slow right back down as second gear catches up (yes, I know that first gear here is a towing gear but remember how I drive this guy once a year). The centre of gravity is at the level of the roof brake light, and even with 300kg of firewood in the back, you cannot hit a corner at 100km/h. Even if the Kona can. Every Day Is A Learning Experience!

Once I got to 120km/h on Cork's South Link, I had to return to 100km/h because the engine noise was uncomfortable. I missed having the 6th gear, sound-insulated cabin, balance, and alignment... Finally arriving to work, I was let into the staff car park despite people saying security might have a problem with a random van. But really. What could I nick? Fill the back of the Van with electricity?

I would rate Van Gogh a solid 3.4 out of 7. The 0.4 added for the creative additions to the bodywork: The bite mark from a horse, and a chip in the windscreen.

Beir bua agus beannacht.


I can often be found in bed with the desk fan on my face and a hot water bottle on my stomach. I’ll be on my back with my feet propped up. My face mask will be on, and an audiobook will be playing. That’s how I cope with the pain.

The cramping which comes with whatever this is can be something else. I do have antispasmodics for when it gets awful, but for the most part, an excellent old-fashioned hot water bottle does the job. With these spasms comes the knock-on effect of general muscle aches. So rather than just a “stomach ache”, I get lower back pains and, bizarrely, hip pains. It can be a bit of a workout when it gets bad.

I have some significant scarring on my lower abdomen, called: Erythema ab igne. It doesn't hurt and will fade, but it will always come back when heat is applied. Either from another hot water bottle, hot shower, bath, or even being in the summer sun. It doesn't bother me. My husband says it looks like the Turin shroud if Jesus had one eye. (The one eye is my belly button).

I don't know the science behind heat-on-my-tummy. I know heat helps inflammation, but the pain is inside. And not on the surface. And it's spasms. Hey, if it works, it works!

I have three hot-water bottles—one at work and two at home. The second one is a long thin one and is, quite frankly, shite. Firstly you can't fill it with only one kettle, and secondly, when you put it on across yourself, all the hot water falls to the ends, and not where you need it to be. So if you feel taken in by that gimmick, then turn away! Give me the traditional full-size rectangle fellas.  And when the EU decides they're too dangerous, I will protest outside the Dáil. And also, when there's a power cut, you can't charge your hot water bottle, but you can boil water.

I'm not the only person with the same or similar condition who relies on a hot water bottle for pain relief. TENs machines are a bag of bollocks for me. So hot water bottle 4lyfe. #exit

Beir bua agus beannacht.

Beir bua agus beannacht.


I am not a brunch person. My life does not revolve around brunch, “doing brunch”, brunch-brunch-brunch. However, I do love having breakfast at the time at which brunch usually occurs.

I also have an extreme dislike of crowds. Like many people, I suppose. And my husband is utterly incapable of just wandering around town. He has to have a goal—a reason. Our going into The City ritual would usually be at dawn on a Saturday.

So welcome to our new ritual of having a household bank holiday. We have decided to take a Monday off once now and again, where we go to The City, have breakfast, and wander around. Because of rush hour, we get to town at 10 am, which means: Brunch.

Rush hour in Cork City gets one line on AA Roadwatch Ireland “And in Cork City, the usual traffic.”

Our first Nadd Bank Holiday brought us to The Spitjack in Cork City. It has always been a popular breakfast brunch spot on Washington Street in the City proper, even before The ‘Rona. Like many food places in Cork, everyone was happy to see it come out the other side.

A few modifications have held over, however. The ground floor part of the brasserie used to have one long bench seat for the “table for twos”. Now they have partitioned them with well-built Perspex screens. Which means it had the feel of a booth but was not oppressive. I hope they look at keeping them because the open-plan benches always feel weird as your bags start migrating up and down and elbows clash.

I wanted to get The Veggie Bap. A brioche bun with halloumi, guacamole, roasted red peppers, a fried egg, Ballymaloe relish, and fries. However, I also wanted a good time in town, so I opted for a classic of poached eggs and smoked salmon. I topped off with a black coffee (yes, I know, it’s an Americano, no room).

With a well-strengthened Irish Farmer’s gastrointestinal tract, my husband went for crispy fried, pulled chicken with spicy buffalo sauce on waffles. With a cup of Barry’s tea.

Top-notch food in a beautiful setting. The staff were not pushy, and there was no feeling to hurry up and move on. I’m not a Food Critic. I’m not here to talk about how adding paprika lifted the hollandaise sauce while keeping the tang of the vinegar—bollocks to that. If you want good food in sensible portions, knock yourself out—a great place.

Finally, with no surprise, the toilet review. Stunning. Stunning. It did have the annoying toilet paper dispenser, which only lets out one sheet at a time, but I am a pro with those now. Unfortunately, the door signs were a bit of a choice. Ducks. Fancy hat for women, top hat for men. I want to point out that I am sí/í (she/her) and have been known to wear a top hat.

The Spitjack does get busy, as everyone thinks it’s great. Go early enough on the weekend, or go on a weekday. I couldn’t see any options for reservations on the website. #entrance

Beir bua agus beannacht.

Beir bua agus beannacht.


There are three things you should never trust. A lawyer, a politician, and a fart.

It doesn’t take long to be hyper-aware of and familiar with your bowel movements. Medication often says things like “if symptoms continue….” Well, my lovely little duck, my symptoms have continued since February 2022, and I want to stop farting.

I can track a fart from its creation. I can stand in front of you and point as I trace the journey through my gut. Then, just before it breaks for freedom, I have to run to the toilet. Just in case.

Unfortunately, Ireland is also suffering from gas. Simethicone, the active ingredient in a popular ant-farting over-the-counter medication, is nowhere to be found.

I have started breathing through the gas to change its velocity. Which is a shame as I miss the heady days of launching a big one and patting myself on the back for its volume and longevity.

The breathing helps. First, the pain is eased greatly, especially if I am already lying down. Secondly, as movement exacerbates it, being able to eliminate going to the loo just in case is a quality-of-life update.

It would be nice not to have to do all this. Things I have thought about during the really bad times:

  • Fistula – they use these on cows to:
  • Transplant poo – introduce a healthy gut biome into my own
  • Get a bag – I was joking, but the gastro said, “It is something to consider, but we want to try non-invasive things before we go there”. I laughed nervously in response.
  • Just a vent – The plastic casing of a popular ballpoint pen shoved into relieve pressure

So, I daydream of a good hot drink (tea, coffee, honey and lemon) while hunched over a hot water bottle shoved in a pair of elasticated pyjama bottoms. The hot water bottle will get a post of its own. What a story that is. #exit

Beir bua agus beannacht.

Beir bua agus beannacht.


We have food in the house, but I’ll stop on my way home for a few bits.

As a foodie, I’ll never review any fancy places, mainly because I’d not eat there, to be honest. Food is an experience and should be a theatre, but it is still a job we must do as humans. So the food should also be good. And hey, sometimes that is a seven-course taster menu, and sometimes it’s a chicken roll from Centra. Yes, I would like it cut in half.

However, I need to tell you about the Irish supermarket. And I need to tell you how it is both food and an experience. Sorry, this does not include the imports: Tesco, Iceland (soul-destroying), Aldi, or Lidl. We are talking about the pinnacles of grocery shopping here. We are talking about Supervalu and Dunnes. Yes, Supervalu is spelt correctly.

When my mum comes to visit, she goes to our local Supervalu. She is a supermarket tourist. We’ll not buy anything in particular, but there will always be an excuse. Dad only likes this type of coffee; we should get more milk. Shall we get something nice for dinner?

She will get herself a cup of coffee at the start, grab her newspaper, and wander around what she calls the most beautiful supermarket she has ever seen. Next time she visits, I will blow her mind. Cork now has a fancy Dunnes.

Located on the Bishopstown Roundabout/Bandon Roundabout/Local name I don’t know, Dunnes has expanded from the plain and default supermarket experience. It has a cafe and a restaurant. At the back are a sushi stall, artisan bread stall, cheese experience, hot food deli, butcher, and a fishmonger. And not any old fishmonger, no. K O’Connell’s from The English Market. Of course, there are the usual aisles, but with the muted brown and black colour scheme, you don’t feel like stuffing yourself into the freezers and embracing death. Even Friday evening shopping is a delight.

And then there are the how-many acres of the home store section. I didn’t need them, but I did buy three as Gaeilge mugs.

I’m reviewing a supermarket, I know. But it’s on my way home, where we stop if we “want something nice for dinner.” I pick up a bloomer loaf and rye, grab some tart cheddar and blue cheese before checking to see if there are any interesting local beers and make a quick stop to grab a bag of Keoghs. If I so desire, I can look on my phone at the field where those potatoes were grown while I eat them because they tell you on the back of each bag.

When you come to Ireland, you shouldn’t ignore the supermarkets. Some hit harder than others, but Supervalu and Dunnes can be top-notch. Honourable mention to Aldi’s middle aisle and Lidl’s bakery. #entrance

Beir bua agus beannacht.

Beir bua agus beannacht.