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"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."It's how you hear about hunt balls, Young Farmers meetings and parties, and you can see who is going," says Vittoria Pannizon, 27, who lives in Gloucestershire. "After that we kept bumping into each other and eventually went out for supper in Cirencester." Vicky Cooke, 34, a teacher living in a village near Rugby, met her fiancé, Richard Jones, 33, from Sutton Coldfield, on My Single Friend. "Dating in the country is always a problem due to distances," Mary Balfour says."All my friends are married and starting families, and no one wanted to go out on the pull. "Richard was the third person I met through My Single Friend. "You can meet people but the fact you have to drive puts pressure on any date.When I moved back to the country it occurred to me how hard it is to meet people.As soon as everyone starts to couple up and have children, meeting new people gets harder," she says.
Driving is an unavoidable part of living in the country and something that people like Vittoria have to accept."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."People come from all over the country and there's a seating plan done by area to combat cliquiness," Lucy says.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.
"The fuel bills are horrendous sometimes but at least you can get easily from door-to-door," she says.