Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Don’t win at all costs..

August 5, 2015

Palio - Brendan Canty

Once again we found ourselves in Siena (one of the most beautiful cities on this earth) in Tuscany, Italy for the Palio (one of the best events I have ever been to) this summer.

The Palio is a bareback horse race, which happens at the beginning and the end of the summer. In truth it is a whole lot more than that and when you come to Siena to witness this incredible event you will know what I mean the minute you get here. You will sense it, you will feel it – there is something electric and tribal about it that will move you.

The Palio is essential to the Sienese. The city is divided into 17 districts (‘contrade’) and the Sienese place their loyalty to their district above church or state. Fierce rivalries exist between the neighbouring districts and all Sienese are united year round by their passion to win the Palio.

Palio - Siena

I took this text from a website about The Palio:

Imagine that all Liverpool and Everton fans had been baptised in the church of their team and lived as near neighbours their whole lives. Imagine that their neighbourhoods had been enemies for hundreds of years but only got to compete against each other once or twice a year. Imagine if the players and the ball were blessed in their churches before every match and the centre of the city came to a standstill for a week beforehand  – now you begin to understand the intense and passionate civic rivalry that animates the Palio

The Palio is a year-long strategic battle culminating in two annual events. Each and every Sienese is involved in the Palio in some way; the result of what may seem like ‘just a horse race’ is in fact glory or despair for those who live here. It has been this way since medieval times.

In the Palio, ten hired jockeys (each representing a Contrade or district) race bareback at breakneck speed around a dirt track, whipping each other in a game where anything goes as long as you win and the greatest disgrace is to come second. It’s not uncommon for many of the horses to lose their jockeys during the race – a horse without a rider can still win!  The Palio itself may be over in 90 seconds but the impact makes history”.

You can see that winning means everything to every man, woman and child in Siena who come out in force to cheer on and celebrate the fortunes of their jockey and horse.

However this is not as straight forward as it seems.

Palio - Siena

This year we spent some time with a local who explained to us that huge money goes into the Palio by each of the districts – this goes on wages for the jockeys and their training but it also goes on bribes and other shenanigans. It is now part of the ritual that the jockey might pay another competing jockey to ‘block‘ or interfere with one of their rival districts in exchange for a fee.

He told us that last year one of the jockeys did a ‘double backhanded deal‘ , which was discovered afterwards by his Contrade and as a result he ended up spending 3 months in hospital from a beating!

Palio - massimo-columbu-al-palio-di-siena

We enjoyed the few rehearsal days and then watched the final and as usual the race was over in 90 seconds. I was astounded to see one of the jockeys in front of 60,000 people and in the full glare of TV spend all of his energy wrestling another ‘rival’ jockey off his horse instead of concentrating on winning himself. In any other sport this would be automatic disqualification and a lifetime ban – with the Palio it just seems to be a normal part of the race.

The offending jockey had no interest in winning and all he wanted to do was to make sure that his rival did not win. Somehow the point of this race has been lost and yet it tells a huge truth, which we all see everyday.

With competitors when bitter rivalry sets in you need to be very careful because you might never win yourself.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Irelan




Tourist for a day and Cork Hospitality

August 3, 2015

Family doing the South Parish Cork Walk

After a day stuck in the car in torrential rain in West Cork with my brother, his wife and their two young children who are visiting from the States we decided to play it safe and stick to Cork city today.

We popped into the tourist office on Grand Parade and after a really friendly and helpful chat with one of the team there, we grabbed some brochures and opted for the South Parish walk, one of four excellent walks mapped out around the city centre. This walk had particular significance as it is the area where my mother grew up.

Saint Fin Barres Cathedral, Cork

The walk is really interesting and easy to follow from Daunt Square, past Bishop Lucey Park and up to Saint Fin Barres Cathedral with excellent signposting and information on each of the main sign boards. The literature provided gives even more information about each of the places and the route.

Elizabeth Fort, Cork

After Saint Fin Barres we headed to Elizabeth Fort, which has recently been fully opened to the public. This free to visit fort provides incredible views right over the city and the friendly volunteers on duty gave us a great welcome. Just outside the fort is the oldest bar in Cork, The Gateway bar,  which is nestled alongside some of Cork’s oldest houses (late sixteen hundreds).

From here we crossed Barrack Street in search of the house where my grandmother grew up. A friendly taxi driver who noticed we were searching for somewhere gave us directions to 77 St. Kevin’s Square.

We ambled up the narrow old Cork city streets and came upon the square. A man who was walking alongside us overheard us chatting about number 77. “Are ye alright there” he asked with a tiny hint of suspicion. “That’s my house” he said.

I explained that this used to be the house where my grandmother grew up. He was confused “It’s been in my family since the fifties“. It looked like his family, The Coleman’s moved in after the McCarthy’s!

Family at 77 Saint Kevin's Square, Cork

Very quickly suspicion changed to a hearty welcome “Come on in and I’ll show you around“. Tim Coleman, an absolute gentleman opened up his home to us and showed us how it would have changed since when my grandmother would have lived there. He offered to take a photo of us all outside his home and off we went.

Nano Nagle's grave, Cork

Our Cork adventure continued to Nano Nagle’s grave at South Pres, which will soon be ‘Nano Nagle Place‘ after the redevelopment work on the site is completed. A huge sense of peace descends on you when you enter this sacred little graveyard where Nano Nagle and the many Presentation sisters are buried.

Coughlan's Bar, Cork

Our journey finished with a visit to Coughlan’s Bar towards the end of Douglas Street. The barman there was a credit to Cork and his profession – he was kind and gentle to my brothers two kids offering them wooden puzzles and a bag of crisps to keep them occupied! This would have been one of the watering holes that my granddad who lived at 55 High Street would have drunk in many moons ago.

We had a great day in our fantastic little city and as usual the Cork people played a starring role.

Well done Cork, you did me proud!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland


Tenders and sun tans!

July 4, 2015

Working on holidays

At last our holiday – a week in Italy with family and great friends. We had a nice place booked for all of us just outside Siena for seven days to rest, relax, chill out and generally recharge the batteries.

Myself and Dee got there a few days in advance and we were due to pick up our buddy and his girlfriend from the train station in Siena for their much deserved break – he works his ass off all year round and the odd time we get to collaborate on work projects.

I called him the day before we were due to collect them to confirm arrangements and he was a little upset – his company was on a supplier panel for a semi-state body and a project was just put out to tender.

This project, which was right up his street and closely related to a bigger project that we had worked with him on was given a one week deadline for responses.

A one week deadline on a tender for a complex project like this is highly unusual and quite unreasonable. At this holiday time of the year it is more so.

Not only is it unfair but if this organisation are genuine about getting the best providers pitching then one weeks notice just shoots themselves in the foot – you have to ask the question, is it a genuine tender process or is designed for their preferred supplier who are fully briefed and ready to submit to win?

Dilemma – Was he to grab a laptop from somewhere and work on the tender submission, which would take up at least a full day of his hard earned holidays or pass? A contract like this would be important to him and his company so it was a big decision.

My buddy did the reasonable thing and asked for a one week extension – surely this was quite reasonable?

They would have done well to allow him this “break”:

  1. There was no real urgency on this work (this semi-state have dragged their heels on this project for well over a year already)
  2. He is hugely knowledgeable on the project and would provide a valuable tender (they know he has this knowledge)
  3. A weeks notice is unreasonable and highly unusual
  4. The request was ‘fair’ and reasonable
  5. They will have a better chance of more quality tender submissions

As expected he got his response;

I have contacted the evaluation team to review the possibility of extending the deadline, unfortunately we are unable to extend


I know a guy working there who holds quite a senior role and asked him to look into it.

He investigated it and confirmed that nothing could be done …. the thing is of course it can be. When it suits them anything can be done.

My buddy as he was taking a rare week off with his other half decided after much torment against working on the tender proposal and ruining a big portion of his holiday but it did upset him.

In truth I believe he made a great decision because if they really wanted a proposal from his company it would have happened.

I suspect that if he had given up his time and submitted the best, competitively priced proposal of all time it still would not have won him the job.

Readers of my blog will have heard me giving out about the tender process before – some agree with me and others feel I am moaning and I should accept that this is just the way it is and ‘shut up‘. It has been suggested by some that most tenders are done and dusted in advance of them being published and this is ‘Just the way it is‘.

I strongly believe that tender processes are too often being manipulated, including the use of every possible trick at times to ensure that fairness and the very reason that these processes were introduced in the first place are not applied – this happens over and over.

I have also come to believe that complaining is a total and utter waste of time and probably ends up working against you both in the short and long run.

The sooner there is a body with real power that can oversee the proper application of our tender rules (these are the government agencies that we pay for) and processes and genuinely investigate complaints the better. Without this nothing will change and these farcical situations will continue as they always have.

As for my buddy I suspect his frustration will last longer than his tan ..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland


Far from shore

December 28, 2014

Relaxing at sea

The sweet spot of the holidays … When you have been off for a few days, enough to have been able to come down the gears and properly switch off and far enough from going back to work so you don’t have to start thinking about it again.

This rare time, when you are far from shore is special, you start to recharge, refresh, replenish and get to know the ‘other’ you and when your head is clear all manner of things can happen. These brief moments come along just once or twice a year and before you know it, it’s time to turn the boat around and head back to land.

The question is …what are you doing with this precious time?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

A tribute to young mothers!

December 10, 2014

Young mother with her baby

Oh no … The woman with the young baby is sitting next to me on the plane!!

My early prayers were that the weirdo in the queue who was intoxicated wouldn’t be next to me …can I take him instead?

I’ve dodged the ‘baby on the plane‘ bullet for long enough and this time it happened and this kid is a live wire. Within the first 30 seconds I am slapped by the little live wire as she jumps and hops and kicks and can’t stay still.

Deirdre gives me some early advice “avoid eye contact with the kid“. She always has something wise to say – I decide to take the advice.

The young mother who seems to be travelling alone is well equipped – her bags with all her necessary baby stuff are put down by her feet, which in a blink chews up all of the leg room in the already squashed Ryanair flight.

To calm the kid down she produces a bottle … That works for about 5 minutes, an IPad works for another 5 minutes and then we enter the ‘danger zone’. The kid is now standing, twisting, jumping and writhing and starting to make noise as she reaches for anything and anyone that grabs her attention.

I can barely move in my seat but the very talented mother can still manage to get things from her bag and put things away and still keep the contorting baby on her lap.

My god…. this is unbelievable… why would she even contemplate such a journey and the little part I’m witnessing no doubt came after struggling with luggage and buggies..why ?

Oh no ..Now comes the sniffing of the bum … please let it be a clean one for everyone’s sake – I was looking forward to a glass of wine and now I’m just praying for no smelly surprises!!

More writhing and wriggling … What happened – we have calm.

The drinks trolley arrives and the poor mother watches enviously as we order a red wine and a prosecco – I feel very guilty and want to ask her does she want a drink … she would probably think that I am a weirdo!

Is she dreaming of a time when life was less complicated? Where is she flying to? Why is she by herself?

We are flying to Wroklaw (up until a month ago I hadn’t heard of it either!) in Poland with friends for the weekend. My guess is she is living in Ireland and visiting home for a while ..maybe?

The kid is acting up again so she is down by my feet scrambling in her bags for the next rabbit … Baby’s bottle!

It’s all calm again. I spoke too soon … the bottle goes flying and hits me on the leg. At this stage I have my red wine firmly gripped to make sure it doesn’t go flying as well.

I’m already dreading the landing as I know it drives the kids ears bonkers, what if the she pukes ..more prayers

I don’t think you should be giving her a banana …I’m now fearing the worst …smelly bum, pukes and tears.

You won’t believe this … I manage to knock over my own red wine on my one pair of jeans …typical !! Sh**, f***, pi**.

My young mother politely reaches into her bag of tricks and comes to my rescue with baby wipes!!

As the plane descends the poor kid starts to cry with the air pressure and her mother holds her and strokes her head until the plane lands..phew!

As I come down the steps of the plane I see this miracle mother struggling with her bags, her buggy and her child before the next leg of her journey.

Mother , I salute you for the fantastic job you do !!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork


Time to stop roaming!

September 3, 2014

Train from New 'York to New Jersey

I’m on the train heading from from New York, Penn Station to Metro Park in New Jersey.

I have no online access so what do we do ?? No Twitter, no Facebook, no checking email… I’m twitching , I’ve read the New York guide book and the magazines.

Maybe I’ll relax, look out the window, explore the interesting sights on the route that is new to me … Maybe I’ll chat with Dee or just relax and sit in peace?

The teenage girl we are squeezed next to alongside our bags and baggage is busy on her Mac doing something while munching on a cream cheese and tomato roll. I wonder if she is working or just doodling.

Instead of enjoying the view I decide to write this blog remotely on my iPhone complete with one finger typing.

My brother who lives out here is picking us up at the station and we’ll spend some time with him and his gang, which is really cool.

If I could get online I could tweet something, check if anyone has tweeted me or mentioned me in a post or responded to one of my tweets, I could check my email quickly and delete any of the non-important ones to save me having to do it when we get home. I could even respond to some of the emails.

That roll is lasting her forever … I’m starving !!

Maybe I should just look out the window and enjoy the new sights..

Smartphone, I guess so … Well mostly !

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Strawberry Fields forever?

September 2, 2014

Imagine - Central Park

Four days in New York …where do you start?

We were staying quite close to Central Park so that was a good place to start. Looking at our tour guide I was drawn to a quiet little area called Strawberry Fields, which was described in our guide book as a peaceful spot dedicated to John Lennon who was murdered close-by outside his New York apartment, the Dakota building in 1980.

Interesting ..

Off we headed on foot winding left and right through the park in between joggers, cyclists, skateboarders and even cars … Through the park there were footpaths and wider roads all winding in different directions. Eventually we exited the park and this maze of roads and paths onto the Upper West Side and decided to first find the Dakota building, his apartment which was located directly opposite the Strawberry Fields location in the park.

Yoko Ono still lives in this opulent apartment building, which looks majestically over Central Park. The friendly security guards in their smart grey uniforms stand for photos in front of the impressive building for tourists… behind them you can see the obvious wealth and you can just ‘imagine‘ what it was like having famous neighbours John and Yoko pass you everyday going about their everyday business.

We passed on taking photos (tacky!) and headed across the way into the park and within two minutes we were at ‘Strawberry Fields‘ which effectively is a discreet circular mosaic set into the walkway with the words ‘Imagine‘ in the centre. People were walking by, some were stopping and taking photos, taking it in turn to stand on the mosaic and others were sitting on the park benches located next to the mosaic taking it all in.

An enterprising busker was sitting on one of the benches in prime position next to the mosaic playing (quite badly!) one Beatles cover after another.

Yoko Ono donated the mosaic in memory of her husband and it gives us all a tangible way of remembering this talented, thought provoking Liverpudlian and reflecting on the needless violence that ended his life.

John LennonJohn Lennon wanted us to ‘Give Peace a Chance‘ as he sang in his immortal song of the same name that became an anthem for the anti-war movement in America in the 1970’s.

In the mosaic the word ‘Imagine‘ reminds us of his message in that timeless song of how simple life could be if we just lived in harmony:

Imagine no possessions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…..”

Just as we quietly reflected on John Lennon and his simple messages of peace we heard raised voices.

What the f**k, you have been here for an hour man, you know we all get an hour. Now it’s my turn so get the f**k out of here

Apparently busking here is lucrative business and the busker next in the rota wasn’t going to lose out to the guy who had prime position. He wasn’t shy either and gave the other guy as good as he got:

F**k you man

The mood was now quite aggressive and these two had no bother putting on a performance for all of us that was slightly against the spirit of John Lennon!

We politely moved on before the temperature rose any further and went about our day and wondered if John Lennon’s simple idea of living in harmony is just impossible?

Isis. the Ukraine, human nature, consider what’s going on in the world today ….maybe we just can’t help ourselves?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

It’s been a while ..

June 4, 2014

Sicily with buddies

It’s gorgeous ..

Sitting around the pool I have my two buddies (my children) with me, Brendan and Ellen with their other halves and of course Dee, my star, who as always made this holiday happen. They are young adults now and my friends as much as anything, which is really special.

While Brendan has been on a few holidays with us during the last few years it’s been over 10 years since Ellen has come with us.

Couples separating is part and parcel of life and in my case it happened over twenty years ago. It’s upsetting and traumatic and everyone does move on but when it comes to your children this is not without a huge cost including spending time with them.

I’m lucky to be happily married to Dee who is absolutely fantastic for me and even luckier that we can all be here together.

This week I have them with me and I treasure every, ordinary yet extraordinary minute.


Time for Stargazing

May 27, 2014

Sicily - Stargazing

Departure lounge in Catania, Sicily …. Holiday all but done.

Where in the name of god did that time go? What is it about holidays that makes them rocket by in a flash and yet it seems like we have been away for weeks even though it has only been 10 days.

I don’t really like going away early in the summer because I always like something to look forward to – we have been grinding it out since the start of the year (as always) so it was either go in May when we can still get a bargain or wait till September, when we would be ready to all fall down.

This time was really special in that my kids (young adults at this stage) came with us for most of it and that hasn’t happened in a long time.

It wasn’t all bliss as I got caught out stupidly with sunburn on my ankle, which was really painful and made getting around awkward but other than that it was a fantastic break.

We enjoyed the really fabulous Minareto Hotel complex just outside Siracusa, a really nice town, as well as a brief visit to the town of Noto, our stay in a fabulous villa on the North coast, the really gorgeous town of Cefalu including the spectacular coastal drive there but most of all I enjoyed the fabulous time just chilling out with my gang.

The perfect moments were spent all of us on the loungers at the villa late in the evening sitting in the dark, sipping on vino, chatting about god knows what and stargazing..

Why don’t we take time to stargaze together at home?

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork



Sicily and the Manager of first impressions

May 27, 2014


Dee is the absolute best at holiday arrangements – she looks after everything and every year we have the best time when we go away.

I can’t stand picking through brochures and websites but she loves it and locks down every detail including great places to visit, excellent accommodation and this time she even managed discounted advance parking at Dublin airport!

Months in advance she managed to get a great deal on a cabriolet car rental and she double checked this with the car hire company, Atlas Choice a few days before we were about to fly out. Car hire can be a little hit and miss in particular when you can get the car you booked “or similar”, which is a term that is quite open to interpretation.

Dee had booked a Renault Megane cabriolet and the plan was we were to collect it at Catania airport after our evening flight and then drive to our hotel, which was an hour away. All going well we would be sipping on a cocktail before 10pm looking out at the Mediterranean and up the next day spinning around the coast with the top down and the wind in our hair!!

I am sorry, there is a problem with your car and we will have to give you something else” our lady from OS Car Rental said (these were the local agent for Atlas Choice car rental).

But we confirmed this with you just two days ago?” we said…what was the point?

There is nothing I can do except give you a bigger car, a Kia Sportage” was her solution and hopefully they would deliver the replacement car to our hotel in a few days.

Hmm..You just couldn’t trust this crew judging by the girls attitude – at this stage she was really annoyed that we would not just accept what she was giving us and move on and out of her way.

She asked us to sign a contract for the Kia Sportage for the duration of the hire. We weren’t very happy being presented with a ‘contract’ that would technically lock us to this car. “We will sign it if you note on it that you will change the car as promised in a few days“.

At this stage she totally lost it “I sign nothing” complete with hands waving and extravagant gesturing ….”If you want a car tonight you sign the contract and take the Kia“. At one point she tore the contract out of Dee’s hand as she saw that we were going to write a note on it.

I was so amused at this point that I managed to get her to repeat her “I sign nothing” performance but this time I recorded her – if anyone from her company gives a toss about customer survive they will enjoy this!

Hotels booked and paid for and getting nowhere fast with our Sicilian friend and determined that she wasn’t going to muck up the start of our holiday we relented ….20 minutes later we rolled out of the car park in something we wouldn’t have booked in a 1,000 years with 114,000 miles on the clock.

Our first thoughts were that Sicily was a big con job and we were on high alert – what were we to expect next?

Thankfully we got the friendliest welcome from the hotel, which was much better than we could have expected and we had our cocktails a little later than planned! We were too late for dinner but the kitchen managed a club sandwich for us.

My daughter Ellen and her boyfriend arrived to Sicily the following evening and got stung paying a €96 euros charge for ‘outside normal hours‘ collection of their car and were thinking ‘what next‘. They had a frustrating hour trying to argue that people coming off a regular evening flight to collect a pre-booked car was quite normal and should not incur a penalty. Con job?

My son Brendan and his girlfriend arrived to Sicily a few days later and got caught with a €25 taxi bill for a 2 minute ride to their hotel. When they questioned the amount he grabbed their suitcase and threw it in the boot of his car until they coughed up. Rachel’s first thought was ‘I just want to go back home‘.

First Impressions All three of us had a lousy first impression of Sicily, which thankfully was replaced quickly by some fantastic ones.

Should every country, every place and every business have a ‘Manager of first impressions‘ to make sure that your first impression is great because that first impression lasts?

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork


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