Well, I have learned to check my calendar before booking holidays now. I wanted to attend SQL Bits in Telford (less than 25 miles from my doorstep) but was abroad taking an essential break. Now the next opportunity is 150 miles away on a day I cannot make it.
In case anyone is considering going then, from what I have heard, these events are really worth your time. As someone who did a MSc (via the OU so not some dodgy Internet pay and print degree ;-)) totally remotely, only communicating via email and post except one mandatory face to face meeting with the dissertation supervisor, I have been persuaded over time that personal attendance can be very beneficial.
For me the £50 fee wouldn't be a big issue and I can understand that it has been introduced to combat the people who register then don't attend because they have literally nothing to lose. I really hope that it doesn't put anyone off (there is a free ticket option for those who qualify).
-- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!