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Finding a third for dating

"We organise rural singles' events such as regional pub grub nights, sailing trips and an annual ball." More than 300 people, mainly in their forties and fifties, attended the Mud Lovers ball last year.

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Horsey girls aren't that bad really." It shouldn't be difficult to meet a like-minded person in the countryside, given that there is a structured calendar of rural social events, including races and point-to-points."When I think of traditional dating agencies in the countryside, I imagine women in spectacles wearing tweeds and lots of underwear," says Sarah Beeny, founder of dating website My Single Friend."The internet has opened up a fun and less embarrassing way for people to meet new people in their area." Young country dwellers also organise their social lives on Facebook. I tell as many people as possible about the website now." But the internet can't solve the problem of geography."The fuel bills are horrendous sometimes but at least you can get easily from door-to-door," she says."In London, it's so stressful; trains get delayed and if you drive, you can't park. Driving to parties in the country became one of my best pulling techniques; everyone wants a lift home." But what's the point of falling in love with someone who lives miles away from your house?Muddy Matches is an online community designed to bring together rural lonely hearts (see below).

"The downside of hunt balls and race meets is they can be cliquey," Lucy says.

Young Farmers is still going strong: Anna Skilbeck, 23, a farm conservation adviser, has been a Young Farmers member since she was 14 and met her boyfriend Jamie at a Young Farmers party.

"A lot of people say it's the rural dating agency," she says.

According to Patricia Warren, this can make socialising stale. Two of Charlotte's friends organised a singles party on Valentine's Day and 70 people turned up.

"It was very refreshing to be sat next to two people I didn't know," Charlotte says.

The nationwide body of 662 clubs hosts social events throughout the year such as parties and quizzes.