I know I am late to the party, but I still wanted to say thanks for this post. I am new to development and also pretty old compared to most other people who are new (38), and I am quite a bit anxious about attending conferences and making conversation to strangers. I am now going to read your 'how to make friends...' post.
Are there any conferences in the UK that you can recommend specifically for for someone who is new to PHP/web development?