Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Boise, Bath, A Gig and A Monday Night Adventure!

Remember that one time just over a year ago when we got married? It was in the wilderness of Idaho and we were surrounded by family and friends. To make that wilderness wedding ready there was plenty of preparation and while Soiree Weddings did a lot of the planning, we also received massive support from Laura's school friend Julia.

Julia is a childhood friend of Laura; she is an artist and an all-round awesome person, one we have thankfully been able to catch up with on every return trip to Laura's home city. We even got her to Vegas for our bachelorette party! Julia designed our wedding invitations, save the dates, and seating plan globes, she also recommended our photographers - who were amazing - and our band Hillfolk Noir! Julia knows everyone who is talented in Boise - or so it seems.

It is actually the band that I wanted to write this post on -with all the events of the day we barely got to see the band perform so we couldn't really share our memories, we just heard our guests' reactions. They played as we walked down the aisle and as we left but it was only on the way to the cocktail hour that we finally heard a bit before being whisked off for our introduction.

We said on the day that we were sad that we hadn't been able to see more of them but we were just glad that they had been such a success. We agreed that we would track them down if they ever came to the UK though, so we could see what everyone was talking about.

So on Monday evening we made the 200 mile round trip to Bath to see them perform in the Bell Inn. We also invited my parents along and thankfully they could make it. The four of us met outside the pub and with Bisbee in tow we went and found some seats - it was a great live music venue, not particularly big but big enough to fit a crowd and get a good atmosphere going on. We got a chance to say hi before they started but only briefly. It was a good turnout!

Hillfolk Noir play 100% original Junkerdash! This is from their website:
Fronted by singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Travis Ward, Hillfolk Noir is a trio of neo-traditionalists playing traditional music on traditional instruments for non-traditional times. They call it Junkerdash, and it’s a sound brewed from folk, bluegrass, punk, string-band blues and other influences musical and otherwise.

Hillfolk Noir’s touring line up consists of:
Travis Ward: Guitar, suitcase, harmonica and singing
Alison Ward: Musical saw, washboard, banjo and singing
Mike Waite: Double bass

They are not your average band - They are far better!

As they started their set we were loving it and then came the stories - they explained they from Idaho (not somewhere known by many Brits) and painted a picture of the place that made both me and L want to grab the next flight there. A few songs later they said before starting the next song they wanted to explain a memory associated with it.

Just over a year ago they had packed up their van and headed up to the mountains of Idaho for a vacation and to do some fishing. After arriving at their destination Travis decided to head further into the wilderness to find the perfect fly fishing location. Some 7 or 8 miles up the road his van blew a tyre. It was super hot, with no phone signal and no spare he thought it best to make the trip back to the cabin they were staying at rather than wait for help. En route he found a pack of beer that had (presumably) fallen off a truck. He drunk the beers as he walked and eventually made it back at about 1am, by this time to some very concerned friends and family. They were able to call for support to repair the van but it was going to take a bit of time. The next day they had a gig so time was not something they had. They called a family friend who was able to make the 3-4 our drive up with a truck, they loaded all their instruments and made the drive to another isolated part of the mountains, Garden Valley, to get to the gig.

They pointed us out at that point - that gig was OUR wedding! We had no idea. We hadn't realised that less than 24 hours before they had been stranded somewhere else, or that they turned up with their stuff thrown in the back of a truck. We were so lucky they (and all their instruments) made it. And we would had never known had we not made it to this gig.
Rocking our wedding - that's right Alison is playing the saw!
At the break we rushed over to them, we got to reminisce about the wedding and the craziness they had gone through, we chatted for a good 20 minutes. They gave us copies of their albums and we bought them drinks. They were awesome. It was like we had known them for ages. They told us about their tour of the UK and how they had spent quite a bit of time in Scotland - cue my Mum getting excited - it turns out they played gigs not far from her home town. And then the Boise link - they had met Julia at a music festival years ago, and Julia had designed the art work on their latest album. How awesome! We like to think that if we all lived in Boise we would all be friends :)

Sometimes in life putting in the extra effort is definitely worth it. The buzz we had from the concert sustained us on the 2 hour drive home and through the next day at work on 5 hours of sleep. It was worth every minute. Even Bisbee agrees. Throughout the gig she sat on my lap watching the band, making everyone around fall in love with her without making a sound. She got a quick walk at the break courtesy of my Dad and then she slept anytime we were in the car - we got so lucky with her that she is happy to go wherever we do.

However, the very next day Bisbee committed a terrible sin - she chewed the album we had been listening to! I had foolishly taken out of the laptop and left it on the table in the rush to leave for a hairdresser appointment and she had managed to reach up, pull it over......and chew it! We won't lie, there were tears!

By sheer luck my parents had stayed down in Bristol to see a football game and were able to track the band down to their next gig and get a replacement - we were so lucky! We will definitely make time to see them when they are back and if they are ever in your area we suggest you drop in :)

Monday, 13 July 2015

Sarah's Birthday!!!

Happiest of Happy Birthdays to my beautiful wife today!! This little lady is the biggest joy in my life, and I spend every birthday planning details months in advance - all with the hope of showing her, even more than usual, how much she means to me.

When this post posts on Monday, we will have been in France all weekend for a beach getaway! She said to me that all she wanted for her 32nd is to be with me and Bisbee. So I thought, instead of taking her somewhere in the UK so Bis could be with us, why not get our four legged future jet-setter a passport, and a little beret!

So off to a little town in France we have gone, to drink champagne and eat our weight in pastries. There is a dog friendly beach so we are hoping to get Bisbee in the water for the first time ever!! We will be going in with her just in case.

We will give you the full run down upon our return, but we are so excited to spend some quality time together - on our first holiday 'just us' since last October, my birthday to Amsterdam!

My love, this is my 7th time celebrating the day you were born, and its amazing how much changes in our lives each year, and how much my adoration of you grows. This year is your first with the little fur-babe you've always wanted, who I'm sure will make your day extra special.

Hope you are enjoying your big day my girl!!

Friday, 10 July 2015

It's my birthday (almost)!!!!!

So I have just finished work and as with all good things I like to keep track of lives more exciting moments on the blog!

I have to wait till Laura finishes at 2 to really get the party started but i'm going to get in the mood with some packing - the reason......a SURPRISE birthday vacation.

I know that it involves passports - for Laura and I and BISBEE - that's right the puppy is coming too. My only birthday request was to spend it with Laura and the puppy and she has figured out a way to make that happen and take me away #awesomewife!

My birthday isn't until Monday but i'm never going to turn down a whole weekend of celebrating - i'm so frigging excited!!!!

Things I know:

  • We are leaving the UK
  • We are driving - and getting a train (EuroTunnel I presume as I am driving the other side) #roadtrip
  • It's probably in France (logistically logical)
  • It's hotter than here
  • We aren't back home till Monday night (whoop day off work)
  • I have the best wife and whatever we are doing is amazing because it's with her
  • I'll be a year older when we next update the blog

Oh and I also found out last night we are off the grid - we are wifi free - we are staying somewhere without the ability to instagram / tweet / update our statuses so expect a flurry on Monday when we are back :)

Enjoy your weekends, I am going to turn the music up and get this weekend started!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The TalkTalk Scam!

So this is a slight off piste blog post but one I wanted to write so that anyone based in the UK can warn relatives that may fall foul of this scam.

My Mum is a Talk Talk customer for phone, TV and broadband. Last week she received a call from 'TalkTalk' apologising that they hadn't delivered the level of security they had promised in their initial contract. In order to rectify this they would need to remotely access a laptop in the house and install a security system. And because they had failed to protect her up to now they would also give her a £250 refund. 

It is fair to say my Mum is not tech-savvy (though definitely improving), while very capable of online shopping and emailing she has no interest in 'maintaining security software' or downloading protection - we (read Laura) does that for her. However when 'TalkTalk' her reputable supplier calls and starts talking about security how was she to know that this was a SCAM!

After 2 hours of 'TalkTalk' accessing her laptop remotely they started asking questions such as:
'Do you do online banking'
'Do you do online shopping'
'How do you pay your bills'

It was at this point that alarm bells starting ringing for my Mum - why would TalkTalk care how she used the internet?!

Then when they raised the £250 payment and started asking Mum for bank details to transfer the money from Western Union the alarm bell rang so loud she called us. Thankfully.

Three key things that made us thing this was a scam:
1) Why would TalkTalk, a supplier, need to access a laptop?!
2) Why would they ask questions about online spending?!
3) WESTERN UNION! An untraceable money transfer service!!!!

We got Mum to hang up immediately. We checked the TalkTalk website and there under their 'Beware of Fraud' page was an explanation that TalkTalk would NEVER ask about payment details nor would they EVER ask you for account details to transfer you money. 

Over the course of the evening and next day the SCAM company called my Mum numerous times, they got aggressive - demanding to know why my Mum had hung up and turned her laptop off. They got clever and used a private number - in short they harassed her. So much so that my Mum called the police. Their advice was the same as ours - DO NOT TURN ON THE LAPTOP! 

We are seeing my Mum this weekend and will investigate further and uninstall anything they may have put on the laptop, but please share this as a warning to anyone you may know who might fall for this SCAM. It is awful. My poor Mum went through such a horrible ordeal and we are so glad that she thought to call us. It could have been worse but if we can stop this happening to anyone else then at least some good will have come from it. 

TalkTalk explained that 'we’ve become aware that some limited information we have about some of our customers could have been accessed in violation of our security procedures'. While account details weren't accessed it has become clear that names and phone numbers have been. 

This is from their website:
Every year countless people are targeted by phone scammers and criminal organisations. Sadly this is a growing problem across all sectors. Financial Fraud Action UK estimates that as many as 58% of people have received suspect calls about their banking details. 
Unfortunately TalkTalk and other telecommunications companies are not immune. With scams of all kinds on the rise, it is so important for us all to remain aware and alert, especially when asked for personal banking details or to remote access your computer. We continually improve the advice we offer customers about how they can protect themselves from criminal phone scammers, as well as other fraud such as phishing emails.  If you are in any doubt about the legitimacy of a caller, please hang up and go to our website to get our correct contact details.
  • TalkTalk will NEVER call customers and use an account number to identify you or prove that the call is genuine 
  • TalkTalk will NEVER call you and ask you to provide bank details unless we have had specific permission from you to do so (for example, so you can pay your bill.)
  • TalkTalk will NEVER call you and ask you to download software onto your PC unless you have previously contacted us, discussed and agreed a call back for this to take place.
  • TalkTalk will NEVER send you emails asking you to provide your full password. We'll only ever ask for two digits from it to protect your security.
  • Scam technical support: more scammers are calling people trying to gain remote access to their computer so they can gain access to personal information. You shouldn't be asked to pay for viruses to be cleared from your computer or to fix any issues over the phone. If you are, don’t give them any details and hang up. Unless we have your explicit permission in advance to do so, we will never call you and ask you to download software onto your PC or take over your computer in order to fix a problem. Never 'check your account balance' while a third party has remote access to your computer.
  • If you have any concerns or have been affected by this issue and would like to speak to us please call us free on the number below.
    You can call us on 0800 083 2710  or 0141 230 0707 (mobile friendly)
Please make sure this doesn't happen to anyone you know.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

We're Youtube Famous!! #ProudToLove

Okay, not really, but a tiny little bit!

We know we've been a little AWOL from the blog - again -but thanks for staying with us.

We have posts in the pipeline but while we finish writing we thought we would share the below exciting news!!

We are too excited to have been featured in Youtube's #ProudToLove Pride month video!

Our knowledge of the video before it was posted was minimal, we received an email from YouTube notifying us that our wedding video might be included in a Pride month video. We thought there would be thousands of videos they would be looking at so we thought nothing more of it.

In intermission of Book of Mormon (our anniversary present to one another) we checked our phones and saw a comment on an Instagram post saying 'Y'all are in a YouTube Commercial!!!!!!' And we freaked out - we'd been selected!!

We switched off our phones to enjoy the end of the show but by the time we were heading home we didn't know what to be more excited about:

  • Celebrating our 1 year wedding anniversary
  • Marriage Equality in all 50 states of America
  • Being chosen to feature in the YouTube video
  • Having been lucky enough to get great seats to see Book of Mormon
  • Pride London happening the next day

There aren't many days when things are THAT good!

So we embraced all the excitement, revelled in the happiness that is London on Pride weekend and wandered around like lottery winners. There is something that makes us so happy reliving our wedding day in any shape or form. Thank you for every message / screen shot / tweet / Instagram and Facebook comment - and thank you for being just as excited to share the experience.

A few of our favs:

Friday the 26th of June 2015 was a great day!

Oh and here is the video for anyone who missed it: (if you get a YouTube error click on the blog title an open it in a new page it should work)

Did you see us? It was brief I know but still, pretty awesome! :)