I gave little more than a passing thought to Emily’s request that I act out the role of “eligible young bachelor” in her feature about finding love in the country. It’ll be fun, she said. An interesting experience.

No doubt I was swayed by her enthusiasm and, not wanting to disappoint, I told myself that it would be a good laugh.

Little did I realise what would be involved as the day neared I grew steadily more anxious. Our deputy News editor, Isabel, had already signed me up to Muddy Matches, this new website for country-folk looking for love.

Not that I minded: it’s all a bit of fun and, besides, what harm could it do? Or so I thought.

Too naïve to realise what I had let myself in for, I duly arrived at the Andoversford point-to-point ready to meet – and maybe charm – some unsuspecting young ladies.

As I waited for my “dates” to be selected by Emily and the Muddy Matches ladies, I worked out some activities we could do to allow me to get to know them a bit.

The day went smoothly, although some were harder work than others. Thomasina, nine years my junior, felt more akin to a little sister.

Having taken a year off to go travelling after school, I was able to offer her plenty of big-brotherly advice on her forthcoming adventure.

Charlotte, who was clearly a little more suspecting, was evidently not impressed with my attempt to portray George Peppard in the joke shop scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I have to admit I was a little disappointed Charlotte would have made a good Holly Golightly.

Last, I met Jules, with whom I was able to put to good use the valuable experience already gained on the previous two outings.

Our “date” was by far the most relaxed and we quickly broke the ice with a handling exercise involving a Harrier Hawk.

Then it was the hard part: deciding which of the three to go on a full date with.