The Gurgle


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.


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.


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.


My gastroenterologist said many people call them meteors. I call them gurgles. And they're not in my stomach they are in my gut. But because saying 'my gastrointestinal tract hurts' I just say stomach.

Here I am at thirty thinks seven and I am already three colonoscopies and one endoscopy in. I guess being ahead of the curve means I’m probably more likely to catch something Bad ™ early. But that’s the problem; I haven’t “caught” anything.

I have “a gut disease” which is causing a “blood disease” which is causing “a gut disease”. And then a dash of mental health and you have me who if I was a cow on the farm would have gone to the factory years ago.

So why am I writing about it? I’m justifying it. Sometimes I wonder whether I am actually ill. How much information is too much? Especially in the world of digestion and excrement. I don’t think it should be censored. There’s a brutal reality here that I think many people don’t get. And considering how many people suffer from one of the many GI diseases out there it’s only right that I am blunt about it.

There is a problem. I love food. Actually, it’s more of a two-phase problem. I have a gut disease and I love food. And I want to write about food at the same time as I describe having a gut disease.

I’m thirty-seven. I have a “borrowed” Tesco grocery crate as a squatty-potty. I should buy shares in Andrex (and in an act of Nostradamus I was given an Andrex puppy teddy when I was born). And I drive around with a full change of clothes in the car like I have a toddler being potty-trained.

What a life, really. I’m meant to be a hip and successful D.I.N.K. Travelling, and exploring the amazing food culture here in Ireland. Instead, I strategically plan all bathroom breaks and carry a tactical hot water bottle.

I’m going to split the posts. Two a week sounds like a good starting point. One post about my tummy #exit, another post about the food #entrance. I hope you’ll join me on one, or both journeys. Despite everything, I am having fun!

Beir bua agus beannacht,

Beir bua agus beannacht.