YOUTUBE VIDEO: FIRE Escape Update – We need numbers!

I have an update for you all on the UK Gathering or as it’s now known – ‘FIRE Escape’!

There’s some good news and bad news. Watch the video above to find out the current situation. 

Please leave your thoughts on the comments section of the video or below. 

I’m hoping to have more clarification in the next couple of days after getting a response from the video. 

Speak to you soon!


  • weenie

    Reply Reply 13th September 2015

    Hi Huw
    It's always going to be a challenge to get people to commit. We were fortunate that Alison was able to book us the room at the Stonegate Yard in York although it would have been great if we could have had the room longer. We're not always going to be that fortunate to be able to get large enough room to ourselves.

    I would be interested in turning up to a FIRE Escape gathering 'down south' – just not able to make this one. Good luck with organising – the video is a great way to explain to people what's going on.

  • Playing with Fire

    Reply Reply 14th September 2015

    Hope you got my email Huw.

    Are there problems with logistics (as Devizes is a bit out of the way), could we share lifts? Also, (for London centric people) would anyone prefer to meet up one evening first so that they know someone before staying over in the woods with a bunch of strangers?

    I'm keen to help to make this happen if possible,



  • M from There's Value

    Reply Reply 14th September 2015

    Hi Huw,

    I am one of the ones who has confirmed, but I do have a few thoughts on the next Fire Escape:

    1. Devizes is a bit out of the way. I appreciate it's difficult to find somewhere in reach of public transport which could accommodate us and what we want, but I was wondering if any of these locations might be able to offer an alternative solution: Bristol, Reading, Oxford, Southampton – they are all 'darn sarth' so to speak, but all on major train lines, which might make it easier for some people to attend;

    2. It is a bit close to the previous one – we didn't have much time ahead to look into our diary, so it's good you've already discussed with Lou about setting a Spring 2016 date as early as possible. Might some time in early November be better for more people? I appreciate the weather might be crap though;

    3. Not sure whether there is another type of accommodation we could look into for the future – if we have more time, booking several rooms in a small city B & B might be the cheapest and easiest option. There would probably be some small function rooms we could use for talks as well as a garden or some nearby park we could use for outdoor activities.

    Am also keen to make it happen, but please don't feel bad if we can't pull it off this time – we could always do a google hangouts day conference or make some kind of weekend thing with different topics on different days for set periods of hours.


  • Anonymous

    Reply Reply 14th September 2015

    Hi Huw,

    Some thoughts on the lack of attendance/confirmations.

    As people have said in earlier comments, the location is not convenient and I agree that future locations should be based in relatively well connected cities with train lines so that public transport can be more easily taken. The location is the only reason I have not confirmed, as it's just too far to pop in for the day despite living "down south"!

    Regarding staying in the accommodation – I think staying overnight with strangers is going to be hard ask for most people. Even if you're met at the previous gathering, it's still a far more intense commitment as you can't really get away at all (e.g. to spend a little bit of time with your partner) and personally I would like the privacy of the night alone and waking up on my own timetable etc, before rejoining the group.

    Have you considered spreading the cost to include people that attend during the day? After all presumably they will be making use of the self-catering facilities for lunch and just enjoying the space during the day, it seems strange that the people sleeping in the accommodation are the only ones paying. I don't think "day guests" should pay the same amount but I do think a contribution would be fair, and reduce the burden on the overnight guests.

    My husband goes to an annual conference for about 20 people, held at a hotel (one year was at Selsdon Park Hotel in Croydon, another year in Birmingham), where they arrive on Saturday at 10.30am, having lunch, dinner, breakfast and lunch provided plus a bedroom overnight for £120pp. They also have a conference room available for the duration for the weekend itself. I feel like an arrangement like this would be comparable from a price perspective, but with a bit more freedom and privacy for people that would like to be to come and go.

    Just some thoughts – while I haven't been able to make it to any meet-ups so far, I would really like to in the future and have been impressed with your dedication and organisation to make them happen! Keep up the good work!

  • EdwardJBean

    Reply Reply 17th September 2015

    Hey Huw, I would echo the comments of anonymous (above). £200 per couple is a lot to pay to spend a whole weekend locked in a house with strangers; I’m sure that this is something that would change once we got to know everyone, but it is a pricy step into the unknown and an unfortunate barrier to entry (as the more people that are there, the less you have to pay). A more advanced notice might also help.

    As we have already discussed, paying a day rate for just turning up would also seem fair to those who are staying overnight; maybe 50% for the day, 50% for staying the night? On the flip side, I note that the Pine Trees quotes the 2 night price for the main house (sleeps 12) and the North wing (sleeps 6); do you think there is any chance that they might do a discount for just the main house?

    Keep fighting the good fight.


    Reply Reply 18th September 2015

    Hi Huw!

    Sorry I've not got back to you about any of this yet, I've just missed all the updates. I don't think my email subscription to your blog is working still. Need to have another look at that!

    I know it's my fault as I missed the vote but for me and as others have said Devizes is a bloody long drive (about 2 hours) from what I would call "Daan Saath" which for me means the South East. Devizes is the South West so was quite surprised to see that as an option if I'm honest, seeing as the Spring meeting has already happened in the west country. I would imagine there are lot's of people based in and around London and it seems this location has not really been thought through properly for the people in those locations?

    In future it might be best to do that location centre map thing I sent through ages ago, i.e. get a date and rough location in mind, then find out who can come on that date, then work out where they are based, then get the centre point, and find 3 different accomodation options nearby that centre point? The 3 accomodation options this time were so far apart and differing in price it was really hard to compare them I thought.

    In terms of cost/accomodation I would have voted for the sustainabilty center as well, that looked like a cracking little place (again, my fault for not voting) and also was the cheapest option. Although, I would not have been staying over anyway so probably best I did not get a chance to vote anyway 🙂

    Whatever happens I'll try to make it to one of the days (probably the Saturday) if the FIRE Escape happens in Devizes or somewhere else, and I'm happy to chip in a bit for the cost of the day that I attend if we're paying for a common area.

    Cheers and good luck with getting it sorted, appreciate you must feel like you are getting some flack here but it must be hard (impossible!?) to please everyone all of the time so rest assured you are doing a cracking job at trying to balance it out between everyone.


  • weenie

    Reply Reply 22nd September 2015

    Can I just say that it's all really flexible and up to people what they want to do, ie if they want to get away with their partners, they are free to do so. In York, people arrived at different times and others left the booked room to do their own thing (I think some went out to do some shopping). A good job there's no need to get up at the same time, especially as Huw was up at the crack of dawn to go running with TFS!

  • Anonymous

    Reply Reply 23rd September 2015

    Hi weenie

    Thanks for the comment, it may be that I have misunderstood/misinterpreted Pine Tree but my impression was that it is literally in the woods and even travelling to the local shops is a car journey – you could argue that that's walkable but once it's dark that turns into a taxi ride, and therefore it's not that practical to be able to wander to and from the group. I think the arrangement in York sounded great and that's definitely the type of thing that I would like to attend, hence why I said city-ish locations would be my preference.

    I'm really sorry if I sounded too negative, that wasn't my intention at all and I apologise if I've misinterpreted the situation! I was only trying to offer some reasons why people like myself may not be up for it. If Pine Tree (or indeed the other venues on offer) are actually not as isolated as they appear then it may be a matter of just explaining that to increase uptake in numbers of people staying overnight.

    Again thanks Huw for all your work – hope to hear an update from you soon and again really sorry if you felt that I was attacking you at all. As theFIREstarter said below, it's impossible to please everyone so it's probably that I'm just a bit too introverted for this type of meeting 🙂

  • weenie

    Reply Reply 23rd September 2015

    The fact that you are considering attending one of these meetings suggests that you can't be that introverted! 🙂

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 24th September 2015

    Hi Weenie,

    It has turned out to be more of a challenge than I firs anticipated. We're running out of time for the autumn, but there's a lot of learning I've taken from this.

    I thought the potential lack of beds would create more urgency and commitment, but the lack of time to organise such a weekend has put people off.

    Thanks for the kind words of support on the gathering and the youtube vids!


  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 24th September 2015

    Hi Emma,

    Thank you for the email, and offer to meet people before going.

    I'm equally keen to make it happen!


  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 24th September 2015

    Hi M,

    Thank you for the suggestions. I think they're great!

    I have to confess to not really thinking about public transport lines. I will consider this for the next location or at least get discussions going for lift shares.

    Devizes was more 'north' than I had originally planned. The challenge I faced was trying to meet the demands of the group – self catered location with a big space, that could accommodate 15-30 people, which had availability for a weekend in the next 4-12 weeks, that was down south, and not too expensive. I agree a future date and plenty of notice will do wonders for commitment and numbers I'm sure!

    I was also influenced by making it more appealing to the people who would come from up north – Weenie, Richard and Alison, Jim McG, Craig, Mike etc. They have been to a previous gathering and were keen t come to the next one. It's easier to put something forward to people that will come along than it is to potential new people. I must stress, I want a nice equal blend of 'newbies' and tried and trusted FIRE Escape members.

    I haven't written this one off just yet, but I appreciate time is running out.

    York and SoV were much easier to organise on many levels. They allowed more Independence and flexibility. But they were also less inclusive, more expensive and we weren't able to stay in one spot and get to know each other and learn from each other. I think the self catered location is definitely the route to go. We have to try it at least once anyway and see how it compares.

    Finally, don't worry, I don't feel bad for not making it happen just yet. Even if it doesn't happen I'll be just fine. At the very least I'll take learning points (like above) away from it to make it happen in Spring.

    Thanks again for your valued input.

    Speak soon!

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 24th September 2015

    Hi Anon,

    First of all. Thank you for explaining your feelings behind your concerns. Your honesty helps me undercover how I can make it more appealing to others in the same situation.

    I tend to forget that people aren't as comfortable meeting strangers as I am or that people like you don't know anyone else at these gatherings. Although I've only met the FIRE Escape crew 2 times at the most, they feel very close to me and I would happily sleep in the same building with them. Scrap that…. I would LOVE to stop in the same building as them so I can selfishly spend more time with them. That's one big take home from previous meet ups. They end too quickly, and the constant room/pub changes result in lost time with them.

    I think setting a stopping overnight rate and a stopping by rate is a great idea, and best to do it up front early.

    Just to clarify, I haven't taken anything you've said as negative. Quite the opposite. I appreciate the honesty and always prefer that approach. Your comment has genuinely helped me!

    You and the FIREstarter are right. I can't please everyone and that's fine by me. I'll just do my best to please the masses and do right by me. The rest will have to deal with it or do their own thing.

    Weenie – Thank you for sharing your experience of the flexibility. I agree with you entirely!


  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 24th September 2015

    Hi EdwardJBean,

    I agree. I'm shooting for under £100 per person for a 2 night stay, which is achievable. I also understand how weird it might be for people that have never experienced this type of thing before.

    I agree and I like your suggestion. My concern, is that 50% might put people off. Eg. paying £15-20 to turn up and meet people (which in itself is weird), might put people off altogether. A 'donate what you feel apt' might leave the rest of us shy on the balance, but I'll find something suitable. I appreciate your perception and if other people felt that rate were fair I would roll with that.

    Thanks for the support Ed!


    I haven't explored hiring just the house, but it is a possibility. Thank you for that!

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 24th September 2015

    Hi TFS,

    Not to worry about the delay. I'm now used to your delayed, lengthy yet insightful comments. 😉

    I'll be moving away from the Blogger format during this autumn, so I probably won't spend a lot of time changing my current set up. Although I agree it needs some work!

    I would agree that Devizes is not as 'down south' as I would have liked. I commented on M's message above that trying to find suitable self catered locations with, ample space for 15-30 people, an open area with breakout rooms, minimal disruption from the general public, down south, cheap, and available in 4-12 weeks for 2 nights is difficult. I could meet some f those parameters easily, but most or all was a challenge!

    I welcome suggestions form others as well. Some people put forward ideas to me, but the ones I selected offered more to meet the feedback from the York visit.

    The centre map thing is a great idea for an established group where we know the attendees. I was caught up trying to cater to the needs of the people that already come along – by edging the location a little north on that suggestion. The downside on the map suggestion is you're likely to only ever find a location in the middle of the country give or take. I wanted to take it closer to people up north or people down south to perhaps appeal to more new comers. Granted devizes is a littler further for London folk, but it's great for Devon/Dorset folk.

    I appreciate that 2 hours isn't classified as 'close' for a journey, but I'm never going to get a location that suits everyone. We used York to cater for people up north, and yet one of the attendees – Richard and Alison – still had to drive 2 hours to get to it and it was in their 'territory' so to speak.

    I hope he doesn't mind me saying but if Richard were free to attend the weekend I suggested he and Alison would have driven the 6 odd hours to come along and meet everyone. So, I can put the gatherings in set locations, but to some people (Richard/Alison or me and Lou) we don't mind too much where it is as we'll be there!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the 3 options. I know that TFS always speaks his mind, and I appreciate your honesty! They were very different and spread out, more than I would like myself, but as I mentioned earlier, it was a tough ask to meet the demands of the group and put forward such aligned locations in a short space of time.

    It's interesting to see how different we all are. For sure people will agree with you and conversely me. The sustainability centre was at the bottom of my vote as it involved more public interaction and less personal open space. The quality was a lot lower than the others, and as I treat these getaways as holidays I was happy to pay an extra £20-40 for more quality. I felt Pine Tree offered more value for money than the sustainability centre, although it was at a higher cost. I'm sure there are many people that would side with you on this though!

    Thank you for your offer of a contribution. If we're able to get it up and running that would be greatly appreciated, thank you!

    I don't see it as flack TFS, don't worry. I'm ginger, welsh, and wear glasses – I've had my fair share of REAL flack so I know what it's like! You're giving your honest opinion and I value that so much more than dishonest pleasantries. I've always liked honest feedback, even if it were cutting (which this isn't!).

    We'll get something sorted, and if we don't I'll do a better job next time. Thanks again for airing your thoughts!

    We need to Skype chat soon too!


  • M from There's Value

    Reply Reply 24th September 2015

    cool. fingers crossed something will happen, even if it's just along similar lines to SuA and York. That would be better than nowt I guess.


  • Richard

    Reply Reply 25th September 2015


    You are correct in your assumption. If it were not for a major project been installed over the weekend of the 17th-18th I would have been at this meet. I am very disappointed that I cannot make it as I got so much out of the others.

    The long weekend in York in particular has had a profound affect on me. I have made a few changes to what I am doing, adopted a slightly different mind set and taken on a few tips I picked up over the weekend. I am seeing results already and am driven more than I can ever remember. Surrounding yourself with like minded people is very powerful and driving 6 hours one way to meet up with people like this is a no brainer to me. That said, I completely understand peoples concerns who have not been before.

    As a suggestion for a future meet, it might be worth considering a village hall or community centre. We have used these in the past for family events and they can be hired out very cheaply for the day (£20 or so for a village hall).



  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 26th September 2015

    Hi Richard,

    I'm glad that's the case. I selfishly wish you didn't have the project then too, as I've really enjoyed our time together on the last 2 FIRE Escapes.

    It's so great to hear that people are taking learning points and inspiration from these gatherings. That's what they're all about in my opinion!

    Thank you for the suggestion on the village hall. I looked into one, and maybe I was just unlucky, but they charged per hour and it came out at £100's and we still didn't have anywhere to sleep so I prematurely dismissed them. I've never books a village hall before so I had no idea what they would cost. Thank you for re-opening that option to me.

    Please keep me posted with your Kindle/house/dividend progression. I love hearing about it!


  • EarlyRetirementGuy

    Reply Reply 27th September 2015

    A village hall is a good idea. My local ones charge about £70-£100 for the whole day Saturday and this is in the over-priced home counties. Could possibly in future allow people to book their own accommodation and then having a village hall or similar for meeting in the days?

    Another idea might be for a camping meetup? Pitch up in a campsite somewhere – Very cheap, no need to worry about numbers and all can sit round outside or in a communal tent to chat rather than having to hire somewhere?

  • Huw Davies

    Reply Reply 29th September 2015

    Thanks for the suggestions Guy. I will be sure to consider village halls in the next meet up. I want to keep as many options open as possible.

    I'm keen to find out how everyone gets on with the self catered location. Based on the groups feedback I'll take that into account for my choices next year.

    Camping is another great idea. In my company, camping is a bit of a marmite topic with customers. People love it or hate it. I don't have any camping kit, and to be honest I wouldn't go out to buy some just for the gathering, but I would be totally prepared to camp. It would be fun in my eyes.

    I don't know how other people would find it. We'll have to ask them in a few weeks.

    See you soon!

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