On Saturday, 21st March 2015, I attended my first UK Gathering, which was organised by Huw of FFB40
. I say my ‘first’ because I know it won’t be my last!
The day nearly started off disastrously for me as I found out almost belatedly that there was a station at Birmingham other than International and New Street – I’d never heard of Moor Street – and that that was where I had to catch my connecting train to Stratford Upon Avon! Cue lots of running but I made it just as the train was pulling into the platform!
It was a bright but rather chilly day in Stratford Upon Avon when I arrived and from the little I saw of it, it’s a beautiful town.
As is always the case (well, my case!) when meeting people you don’t know, it can be a little bit awkward but I found myself immediately at ease, everyone was really friendly. I did think it was funny that only 3 of us were bloggers (myself, Huw and M from There’s Value
) – aside from spouses, the others didn’t appear to have their own blogs but were regular readers and part of the PF/FI community. Our gathering numbered 11 (12 if you include M’s little one in the pushchair!). The “most impressive journey award” went to Richard and Alison who drove all the way down from North Yorkshire!
What did I get out of the Gathering?
It was great to finally put faces to names and to meet new people. I found it liberating to be able to talk about money, ask financial questions (without people pulling a face!) and discuss investments with like-minded people. How great was it to talk about retiring early without someone mentioning a big lotto win! I picked up on stuff which I will do further research on and also was able to get some feedback on an idea (which may or may not include monkeys…) that I’ve had that’s been bubbling for a while but which I’m not quite ready to kick off just yet!
I really enjoyed hearing first hand what people did or were doing towards achieving FI, people from different backgrounds, different careers and jobs, some with young families, some with only a few years left before they think they can stop working, some on the verge of changing careers. Found it all really fascinating and interesting.
The other thing that I got out of this gathering was a bottle of home brew! As agreed, I swapped a bottle of my home brew bitter (still a bit shaken up from my running earlier!) for one of M’s bottles of perry, which I look forward to trying.
I also gave a bottle to Huw as thanks for organising the gathering and even got a special label for the bottle to celebrate the occasion:
I left the gathering full of motivation, encouraged that the path that I’m taking is the right one for me.
My one complaint of the day?
The day went by far too quickly and I was unable to get the chance to talk to everyone properly. Partly my fault I guess, as I’m a bit rubbish at mingling. As I was sitting on the cold platform waiting for my train home, I was quite envious of those who were staying the night as they would be able to continue their conversations and discussions.
The general consensus was that the gathering was a real success so it was only natural that there was talk of the next one. York has been suggested (evidently keeping along the theme of places of culture as a meeting place!), sometime in the summer – I’m sure there will be more info as dates/locations are looked at.
It will be great to see everyone again but also hopefully, there will be some new faces too.
Anyway, I’m so glad I made the effort to attend the meeting – thanks very much for organising it, Huw!