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.
It turned out my parents knew his parents and I was friends with his brother." However, in the past five years, social networking sites have revolutionised rural dating.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 nationwide body of 662 clubs hosts social events throughout the year such as parties and quizzes.A study by Louise Elliott, a land agent for Savills, suggests that the parents of about half of people in farming communities met via Young Farmers and a quarter were introduced by a farming friend."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.Party-goers stay in nearby hotels and can join a pre-ball activity and a hearty walk the following day.This year's ball in Sywell, Northamptonshire, on May 22 has a "black tie with a muddy twist" dress code.My friends say that I'll meet someone when I least expect it and I guess I just have to believe them.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.