UK Chautauqua



“Touchdown London! *fans cheer*”

That’s something that we we’ll probably never hear. Well, unless England decides to get a football (American football) team.

It’s was the first time I had been on this side of the Atlantic before.  It’s true “People Regret the Things They Didn’t Do More Than the Things They Did.”  I hesitated on going to Chautauqua the year before and I had wished I pushed the button sooner.  So this time, I was sure to sign up early.

I met Moose and a couple fellow Chautauquans at Heathrow and we were off to start this weekly adventure.  On the car ride over to Gerrards Cross I noticed the red telephone booths that you only see in old spy movies.  Cool.

We arrive at the Bull Hotel to see all our favorite FIRE trailblazers in one room.  I was in awe.  “Holy shit.  They’re all here.” was my initial reaction.  This included

After all us eager Chautauquans were united, we took a short walk over to a popular Tandoori Restaurant.  Thus, a couple recurring themes for the week were initiated.  “Great meaningful conversation”.  “So much good food”.   I was starving and tired from the plane ride over.  I took the MadFientist’s lead on pairing the meal with Cobra beer.    Good call Grandmaster Synth!  Also, great call on the restaurant Alan and Katie!  With “so much good food” and a beer I was ready to KTFO.

University of Oxford.

The next day we went on a walking tour of prestigious University of Oxford and the town of Oxford.  It was fascinating touring the town and admiring all the intricacies of old architecture. The school has been around for hundreds of years. I really liked hearing about Blackwell, the bookstore that started off as a tiny shop but then grew, with most of it being underground and over a couple of miles long.  There was also the bar where many people got their suit ties cut, collected, and placed on the wall for decoration.  For all the Harry Potter fans, there were many scenes from the movie series filmed around the University.



Ettington Park Hotel

The main event location.  We were able to check in quick and efficiently.  My roommate and I went to check out the digs for the week, drop off our bags, and explore the rest of the hotel.  When we got to the room I started reading the hotel binder to find out what amenities were offered. You know what amenities what I found? Ghost stories.  LOL.  “This place is HAUNTED!  Especially the chapel”, was what I was really thinking to myself.  Throughout the week, we all discovered the trap doors and it was pretty cool to see them.  At one point, I went outside to tour the grounds.  As I got to the chapel out back, I didn’t go inside.   I didn’t want to any ghosts to come and hangout with me for the week.  So, I practically tip toed around it, about 20 yards in between the chapel and myself, and viewed from a distance.

The rundown

Our schedule for the week was thoughtfully planned.  We had the privilege of spending a week with known figures in the FIRE community.  There was a talk each morning followed by lots of free time and/or 1×1 with the speakers.  Just before dinner on Monday, I dashed to my room before dinner and already started making changes to my spreadsheet and set up another automatic investment transaction.  I tried go get some 1×1 time with each of the speakers as time permitted.  It was comforting to hear some of their stories that I can relate to.

During the week, we had a lot of meaningful conversation and time to form bonds with one another.  As you’d expect a lot of the discussion points were around money and financial independence. The questions and chats we had are typically relative to each individual, their goals, and situations.  You wouldn’t have these kind of discussions in any other setting.  However, our group was pretty open to sharing and discussing things.  So anyone that came to Chautauqua with questions had them answered or at least pointed in the right direction. Surprisingly, that’s not all we talked about.  We talked a lot about life.  There was focus around passions, meaningful work, and what folks envisioned for early retirement.

I was intrigued during all the discussions around geo arbitrage.  I need to research the costs of living in Thailand!  Another big highlight for me was our hot seat x mastermind session where we formed groups and presented a current problem to solve.  We received useable feedback to take with us.  So awesome!

There were also activities planned for us.  One evening, we went into the town of Stratford Upon Avon.  The birthplace and childhood home of the great William Shakespeare.  We had some time to explore the town so a few of us we went and got some tea…or beer.  Yes, we knew tea time was a stereotype but still some of us just wanted the experience and the caffeine buzz.  A couple hours later we met up with everyone and enjoyed a fantastic dinner on the rooftop of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.  “So much good food”.  After dinner, we went downstairs and watched a live production of Taming of the Shrew.  I’m not going to lie, after that dinner, I was watching the back of my eyelids until intermission hit.

On our last day I was part of the group that went to Cotsworld.  I figured I had time on the plane to get all my notes and thoughts together. We also got to see the Playing With Fire documentary.  It was my second time seeing it and it was different watching it the second time around since some of the folks in the movie were in the same room.  I’ll be watching it again for a third time in a couple weeks.



One other thing I didn’t get until Chautauqua, that I get now,  is that the Guinness IS better on this side of the world.

“So no one told you life was gonna be this way….”

Yes, I just quoted the theme song of Friends.  I was able to meet a lot of great people from places all over the world.  It was a diverse group in ethnicity, age, and professional backgrounds.  Everyone traveled near and far with an open mind, openness for conversation and the willingness to help strangers we just met a few days ago.  We sat and talked, all day and most of the night.  It was truly a unique experience.

During one of the discussions of the week, a fellow Chautauquan was telling us his story and that now “He drives a 17 year old toyota”.  Man, the room erupted in an uproar of cheer and praise.  Ha.  Yeah, we are a special bunch.  Only if you live your life against the grain would you understand.

It’s been over a week removed from this memorable week and I’ve already met new folks in the FI community.  I’ve also met a future Chautauquan,author of the Military Guide to FIRE, who is going to Portugal later this year and lives in Hawaii.  Virtually, I’ve met a past and future repeat Chautauquan , who’s also going to Portugal and lives in California.  Aka, babyboomersupersaver – we’re practically neighbors.  On Friday, I’m having lunch with a Chautauquan who went to the Greece Chautauqua last year.   I really enjoy hearing everyone stories.  There are countless personal finance blogs out there and a bunch of people to meet.  Let the good times roll.

“Ooooh yeeaaah.”







3 comments on “UK Chautauqua”

  1. One of the best things about FI Chautauqua is the people you meet & the connections you make. Even though you & I were not at the same Chautauqua at the same time, we are now connected, too!

    Loved hearing about the uproariously hilarious support for the driver of the 17-year old Toyota! I just bought a 10 year old Honda.

    Yes, we are a special bunch.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.