Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

The gal in Girona and how we are all connected

October 10, 2019

Girona

We were standing outside the tourist office in the beautiful city of Girona in Spain and taking in the stunning old buildings while figuring out our route for the day – a walk through the city  alongside the river, a visit to two of the famous cathedrals, exploring the Jewish quarter and then a climb to the wall walk, which towers high above providing stunning views and runs for at least a mile and then maybe lunch!

While we stood figuring out the route I noticed a woman in a green and white dress with blue shoes and an unusual light green heel.

Aren’t her shoes unusual” I commented to Dee. I got a strange look!

We went about our stroll, taking in the stunning architecture of the shops that ran along the river, we explored the few bridges, popped over to Independence Square and then went to the first Cathedral.

There she was our lady with the blue and green shoes, standing ahead of us in the queue and she asked for the headset with the tour in Russian.

Her hair was tied up nicely, she wore a gold watch and some discreet jewellery.

We collected our headsets and they took us from station of interest to station of interest, each with a sequential number in your headset that told you all about that part of the church.

Our Russian friend was one stop ahead of us as we went from station to station.

At stop number 10 we were overdosing on too much historical information and we just wandered on until we completed the visit and went on our journey to the main cathedral in the city.

The location for this was stunning, at the beginning of the Jewish quarter, a huge imposing building towering over the city. We climbed the steps to the cathedral, grabbed our headsets and started the 1,2,3,4 sequence of each historic spot within. There was our Russian friend again with the unusual shoes.

Judging from the guests in our hotel many Russians seem to come here on holidays.

The fantastic hotel where we were staying near Lloret de Mar, the Santa Maria, seemed to have many while we were there including a group of women, who were definitely enjoying themselves by the pool, at the bar and at breakfast – the Cava was flowing on the one morning when a ferocious storm spent the day visiting.

After all, what else could you do?!

Was our Russian friend alone I wondered?

If I was alone, would I go visiting cathedrals or even come on a holiday like this by myself? It must be difficult for anyone who is alone I pondered.

We hit fast forward, exited the cathedral and wandered through the Jewish quarter, passing the beautiful, unusual shops, restaurants and buildings and then we made our way up, up, up to the beginning of the famous wall.

Climbing those steps was tough in the heat, when in particular en route we had to pass a few restaurants with people enjoying paella and cold drinks!

Girona

The wall towered over the city and it snaked it’s way parallel to the river on the opposite side of the city centre. We walked and walked and eventually came to the end of the wall and back where our day started near the tourist office.

With the knowledge we now had of the city we made our way to the Jewish quarter and settled on a beautiful old restaurant and sat outside to enjoy the food and the brilliant pastime of some people watching.

The menu carrying salesman at the front of the restaurant carefully moved in when anyone showed interest in the menu. All dishes were for two, and we settled on a walnut, blue cheese and apple salad for €16, which included two glasses of Cava. The dish was huge as well as being delicious and we just had to order ‘Dos copas du vino blanco‘ to complete the course!

The people watching was as enjoyable as the meal as all sorts of unusual people, young and old passed by … holidays are just great!

Our Russian friend came into my mind as I thought about the ‘meals for two menu‘ at the restaurant.

As I sat there I asked Dee “would you come to a place like this on your own”?

No sooner as the words came out of my mouth, our Russian friend with the blue shoes and the lime green heels walked by.

How is it that the second we think about someone, they appear?

I swear, there are no coincidences, we are all truly connected, even with Russian women in Girona!

There would be no need for dinner after that feast so we bought a baguette and some cheese on the way back to the car to eat later on the balcony of the hotel.

That was a good day ..

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

We have two lives & the second one begins when you realise you only have one!

June 4, 2019

Mario de Andrade

This beautiful poem written by Mario de Andrade (San Paolo 1893-1945), a poet, novelist, essayist and musicologist who was one of the founders of Brazilian modernism, was shared with me by my great friend Fr. John Ahern.

*MY SOUL HAS A HAT*

I counted my years
& realised that I have
Less time to live by,
Than I have lived so far.

I feel like a child who won a pack of candies: at first he ate them with pleasure,
But when he realised that there was little left, he began to taste them intensely.

I have no time for endless meetings where the statutes, rules, procedures & internal regulations are discussed,
knowing that nothing will be done.

I no longer have the patience
To stand absurd people who,
despite their chronological age,
have not grown up.

My time is too short:
I want the essence,
my spirit is in a hurry.
I do not have much candy
In the package anymore.

I want to live next to humans,
very realistic people who know
How to laugh at their mistakes,
Who are not inflated by their own triumphs
& who take responsibility for their actions.
In this way, human dignity is defended
and we live in truth and honesty.

It is the essentials that make life useful.
I want to surround myself with people
who know how to touch the hearts of those whom hard strokes of life
have learned to grow, with sweet touches of the soul.

Yes, I’m in a hurry.
I’m in a hurry to live with the intensity that only maturity can give.
I do not intend to waste any of the remaining desserts.

I am sure they will be exquisite,
much more than those eaten so far.
My goal is to reach the end satisfied
and at peace with my loved ones and my conscience.

We have two lives
& the second begins when you realise you only have one.

Send this to all of your middle aged friends!!

…It is forbidden to keep it

The Season of Goodwill?

January 6, 2019

Christmas Carol

Another Christmas “season” comes to an end.

The long break that we were looking forward to for ages, the one we all needed to get some much needed R and R,, just came and went in a flash and it is done, the Christmas tree is down and we get back to our normal routines and kick off another year with resolutions and great intentions,

This year was a strange one, well at least it was for me.

This time last year the big “C” finally got the better of my dad, he had a bad turn literally as dinner was served on Christmas day and then we entered that dark and horrible, inevitable tunnel that saw him sadly pass away on the 25th January.

So heading into this Christmas break I wondered how it was going to be for me and the family and I could see this “dilemma” echoed by so many others on social media and in the general conversations that people have – for many it just isn’t a good time for many different reasons.

I wasn’t really sure how I would feel, how it was going to be for my mum and the rest of the family.

Thankfully it felt great, the decorations went up and I could not help but be carried along by the genuine season of “Goodwill”.

I felt a genuine sense of joy, we had worked hard all year and we were going to enjoy a much deserved break and spend precious time with friends, family and the two dogs, Honey and Bert!

One silly moment captured what this time of year is all about for me.

We were in a huge queue in the fantastic newly revamped Dunnes Stores in Bishopstown Court in Cork, which nearly stretched the full length of one of the aisles.

I’m sure that this was the very last place anyone wanted to be spending an hour of their busy lead up to Christmas and instead of being stressed and irritated in the queue people were in great form and there was plenty of friendly banter between everyone.

There wasn’t one cranky person, the Dunnes Stores team even went as far as handing out sweets and bottles of water to those in the queues, and for those with babies and the odd older person who wasn’t great on their feet, they were moved up without any grumble from anyone.

There was one guy in a line directly opposite me and we were having some fun as my queue seemed to move a lot faster than his – I won the race!

Everywhere you go at this time of the year people wish you Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year and while part of it is formula, a big part of it is genuine – we are allowed to be nice to each other at this time!

How bad is that?

A close friend of mine (who absolutely hates Christmas and refuses to get together at this time) sent me a text asking how I was. I think she was expecting me to be down because of dad but instead she got the opposite and she got really cross with me when I explained that I was in great form and feeling genuine joy.

You must think of others who are having a hard time at Christmas” she responded.

Of course I do think of others but I am joyful and I won’t alter that because of your beliefs!

I pushed her to join us over Christmas – even if you don’t “believe” it’s still a great time to relax and enjoy the company of friends without the stress of work and life.

Nothing doing unfortunately, and she insisted that she would avoid all contact until the “season of goodwill” was over…bizarre!

The present I bought for her will be delivered some time in the next few weeks.

My biggest concern was for my mum this Christmas but she refused to be down, she put up her tree and decorations and despite the incredible sadness and loneliness she had fun and spent lots of time with us, as well as the inevitable tears for dad, which we all shed at various times – we miss him deeply.

So reflecting on it all, the traditions, the commercialism, the symbolism and the rare time off I feel it is the very best time of the year, a time to be embraced and enjoyed with friends and family.

And if nothing else, it is a “season of goodwill” and how bad, that for this special window of time each year we are all a little nicer and a little kinder to each other.

How many weeks is it to Christmas?

Greg 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 

Too much, too little and two mishaps

December 10, 2017

Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore

We’ve had two wonderful days at The Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co. Waterford, which included the most incredible feast of fantastic food that you could imagine.

On our first night we treated ourselves to the tasting menu, which was a feast of the senses, delivered by a superb team, led by Adriaan Bartels who are passionate about great service and introducing customers to some amazing food that you would never taste otherwise.

The Wagyu beef from James Whelan Butchers was my favourite of all the amazing dishes on the tasting menu, which came with a well chosen matching wine selection of five different wines.

The following night we ate in the bar and as expected this meal was also incredible – I couldn’t resist the set menu with a selection of starters, desserts and a choice of main courses.

Of course we also indulged in a delicious breakfast each morning, which was a feast in itself.

Cliff Walk, Ardmore

Eventually it was time to leave after two fantastic days of indulgence, rest and recuperation and even some exercise as we did the breathtaking Cliff Walk and a long walk on Ardmore beach.

We headed back to Cork as we were due at the Cork Chamber Christmas lunch, which was at Fota Resort.

After all of the rich food we had eaten over the two days at The Cliff House, I was in the horrors at the thought of eating another morsel of food!

At Fota the perplexed waiters and waitresses came to us a few times questioning why we didn’t want the smoked salmon starter – was there something wrong, did we have special dietary requirements?

I explained that my special dietary requirement was that I didn’t need a starter as I was simply stuffed!!

I managed to eat most of the main course and I did have one little taste of the dessert – I was glad when the meal was over with, as I just wasn’t able.

I glanced around the room at the capacity crowd as together we ate the fine food, and drank the wine and indulged in the satisfaction of a positive year and a well earned Christmas break that would soon be here.

What are your plans for Christmas?” and “Are you taking much time off?” were the popular questions being asked at each table.

I reflected on my uncomfortably full stomach and the room full of festive spirits, and I thought of those who were cold and miserable today and would love nothing more than a hot meal in a warm room, let alone entertain any thoughts of an indulgent Christmas with friends and family.

I also reflected on a thought provoking podcast that I had listened to on the journey to the Cliff House, just two days before. It was the Legends and Losers podcast by Christopher Lochhead and the particular episode featured the inspirational founder of ‘The Giving Spirit’, Tom Bagamane. This is a non-profit in L.A. that helps the huge number of homeless people in the city.

One of the big messages in the episode was that most people are just two mishaps away from being homeless – job loss, poor health, relationship breakdown, bereavement and mental problems are all mishaps that can easily throw any of us upside down, if they come knocking at our door.

Many of the homeless are not the stereotypes that we may often think they are.

Kathleen O'Sullivan

This morning I read about 43 year old, Kathleen O’Sullivan who had been found dead, wrapped in blankets in a doorway in Cork city. Apparently, ‘big hearted, kind, caring’ Kathleen who was suffering from emphysema and pleurisy hadn’t recovered from the death of her child a number of years ago.

We all deserve our breaks and we most definitely deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labour, but we mustn’t forget about those less fortunate than us, and remember that we are all just two mishaps away from being on the streets.

Merry Christmas to all..

A big thanks to Bernard MacNamee who brought me these powerful lyrics from the Kirsty McColl song, “Walking Down Madison

From an uptown apartment to a knife on the A train
It’s not that far
From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement
It’s not that far
To the bag lady frozen asleep in the park
Oh no, it’s not that far

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Ryanair – The bit that comes before the Crisis

September 25, 2017

Ryanair - Always Getting Better

Early last week we were asked to comment by the publication Fora.ie about the whole Ryanair fiasco and what we thought of how they handled their crisis.

In a crisis situation we always advise –

  • Don’t hide
  • Quickly establish the facts
  • Be 100% truthful
  • Always provide a solution (or a least be honest about working hard to find one)
  • Don’t be afraid to say sorry (as long as you mean it)
  • Don’t be shy about telling people the good things you are doing

This can be achieved with a combination of holding statements, follow up statements, interviews and implementing any necessary changes.

In the case of Ryanair there wasn’t really a formal apology but Michael O’Leary was door stopped by reporters and did say it was “clearly a mess” but he went on to point out that it was just 2% of their passengers that had been affected. I think Michael is missing the point here about focussing on the good things!

On their website where they have a page dedicated to the cancelled flights they also remind people of this “2%” as well as listing the flights that have been cancelled. They also provide a ‘link’ to a page that directs people to an EU legislation document about entitlements to refunds and compensation.

The words “sorry” or “apologise” don’t appear anywhere!

Ryanair - Cancelled Flights

Understandably customers are irate – Ryanair are not helping the situation by drip feeding news about cancelled flights, their customer contact lines not being managed efficiently and are still overheating their situation by promoting flights at “€19.99”.

Furthermore, they have been denying that part of the problem is pilots leaving to take jobs in other airlines.

This scenario has got even worse with pilots going public with their gripes and painting a pretty awful picture about what life is like working for the ‘low care’ airline.

All of this comes at a time when the airline has been trying to refocus it’s brand with their “Always Getting Better” campaign.

A different scenario? 

So – would it have made a difference if Ryanair were upfront, issued a formal apology and showed genuine empathy with inconvenienced customers and were honest about solutions and assurances going forward?

The answer would be a big “Yes” but there is also a big “But” to contend with.

The effectiveness of this approach will depend on what people feel about the company when embarks on such a course –

  • Do people feel warmly towards the airline?
  • Do they believe that there is a genuine concern for customers?
  • Do they believe that staff at the airline are treated well?
  • Do they believe that this company does charitable work?
  • Do they believe there is a strong moral compass at the airline?
  • Have they communicated the great things (if such things exist) they have been doing to the general public and stakeholders?

Maybe realising this Michael felt there was no point pretending to care?

In a crisis a robust process will definitely help but the best preparation for a crisis is to be good and do good things and communicate this effectively – it is only then that people will be willing to listen to your apology and accept it.

Leopards don’t change their spots and not caring will bite you in the butt eventually.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Crisis Consultancy Services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 

No man’s land in the sun

June 12, 2017

We are a few days into our summer break and for some reason I just can’t settle today.

Maybe it’s because it’s a Monday or maybe it’s because we have spent a few days lazing around, eating great food, drinking great beer and wine and my natural clock is telling me I should not be relaxing anymore.

Then again when I think about it I haven’t really been relaxing.

Day one was travelling and discovering Verona. 

Day two was a bike tour of Verona , more driving and more discovery and day three was a three and a half hour car journey on busy motorways to Arezzo, some shopping, meeting up with the guys and settling into our fantastic accommodation. We are staying in a gorgeous farmhouse holiday development called Agriturismo Azienda Agricola II Pozzo complete with their own olive pressing and vines. 

Yesterday was our first ‘wake up without having to go anywhere’ days, but we did drive to the town, grabbed some food, did some grocery shopping, lazed by the pool and then headed out again for dinner. A few of us sat around and had a few drinks before retiring.

Today I woke up needing to move, go, do something but after breakfast the day quickly caught up on us as the sun beat down so instead it was a laze by the pool day but I never managed to settle.

I wasn’t relaxed enough to pick up a book so I checked emails, I checked Twitter, I listened to part of the new Roger Waters album, I listened to a podcast, I rang my mum, I chatted to the guys – I had “ants in my pants” without being able to properly settle down for a minute.

A siesta was suggested ….No!!! I need to move, not stop.

And now I turn to writing a blog about this silly state I find myself in.

While everyone else is able to slow down to zero I still find that I’m just not able to, at least not today, not now.

I am caught in that “no man’s land” state of being on holidays but still not being able to give in and properly relax – I better relax soon because before I know it it will be time to come home.

Ok…what will I do now? 

Head turned ..

October 10, 2016

I’ve been really good this holiday break, managing to give my head a much needed rest from work.

To avoid the mountain of emails and little issues and tasks when I return I’ve tried to briefly check emails every second day for an hour (it always ends up being two hours!) and quickly deal with the few things as required.

Today I’ve let my head get turned back to work stuff so the warning alarm bell has gone off.

STOP!!

Mojito please ….

Greg Canty 

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

A week off and the “not to be missed” opportunity 

September 19, 2016

Valentia , Co.Kerry

For once this year for a few reasons we still hadn’t taken a break and we planned a week off in beautiful Valentia, Co.Kerry.

Just before our time off a good opportunity came through to us. We were invited to pitch along with a number of other agencies on a really significant project – the deadline was really tight and of course the date for the pitch presentation to the client was …you guessed it!! 2 days into our “week off”.

Hmmm…it was a great opportunity, it would be really interesting and a nice one to win.

Despite the whole team being totally slammed I decided we’d go for it but this meant that our mini holiday would inevitably be affected. However, I could come back to work for just that one day and continue with the holiday after that – it’s just one day, isn’t it?

With the huge workload the work on the pitch started really late. We went to Kerry on Saturday morning to start our holiday and I was distracted – my head wasn’t in holiday mode because I knew I had to work on the pitch.

First thing on Sunday morning the laptop went on and before I knew it most of the day was gone. On Monday we finished the plan and we headed back to Cork and on Tuesday the work “glad rags” went on and I met the team and we went to the pitch.

The weather had turned nasty so we didn’t return to Kerry.

Working on this pitch turned out to be a huge sacrifice and in truth it totally and stupidly ruined my week off – I had no “head rest“, which I really needed. I came back to work the following Monday with a cloud over my head and I was really angry with myself for falling into this work “trap”.

But maybe it would be worth it?

What added salt to these wounds was not winning the account – according to the feedback we came within a whisker of winning as our plan was excellent. Thank you but not excellent enough!

If I had a cloud at the start of the week I certainly had storm warnings now ….I’m a big boy and I made the decision to go for this myself. No one to blame but me!

Win or lose you need to take your breaks and ignore these “opportunities”. There is always another one around the next corner.

You are the most important client of all and if you’re not fresh and rested you won’t win anything.

Lesson learned Greg? – I hope so!

Greg Canty 

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

Hate !

May 3, 2016

Ryanair pic by Greg Canty

Hate is a big word and I hate using it!

Boarding our Ryanair flight from Liverpool to Cork I uttered the words I have uttered many times before to Brendan, my son “I hate Ryanair

He took me up on it straight away “give it a rest, they are really good now, way different to before

Sure enough the process felt different, the APP made it easy to manage our booking and the stampede for seats that used happen before when the boarding gate opened just wasn’t there now.

Why do you still hate them” he asked?

I explained that I hated that Michael O’Leary had such a disdain for customers and customer service and this was the cornerstone of the brand. I hated how it made me feel when I used the airline and swore that I would even avoid destinations if they were the airline to take you there.

This time the Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund match dictated the destination and Ryanair was the best way to get back to Cork.

We are handed a magazine as we board… It’s not a magazine but a catalogue of things to buy – there is nowhere to put it except by my feet as there is no pocket on the back of the seat. The back of the seat instead carries safety information and an advert for cosmetics that can be purchased on board.

Ryanair pic by Greg Canty

I look down the gaudy big yellow bus, the heat is on full blast and everyone is fidgeting with their air vents. The people around me grumble about the stifling heat while the pleasant hostess passes by quickly wanting to know who wants to buy scratch cards (I presume some people like to buy them but for the life of me I can’t imagine why – I feel for her, it must be a part of the job she hates!).

I’m looking forward to getting off in Cork and for this flight being over but first I’ll finish this blog post about brands and how they make you feel.

I guess Ryanair have improved a lot but yeah …I still hate them but not as much as before.

What brands do you feel strongly about?

Greg Canty 

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

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