Exclusive dating agencies
The Brussels office serves the entire Belgian market.
Until now, I always thought people who resort to dating agencies must be a little desperate. I have never before even been set up by friends or been on a blind date.
She has, she says, an instinct for knowing who will hit it off. 'Looks are subjective,' she says, and adds 'he is charismatic and an animal lover with a Labrador.' That swings it. I tell him I live in the middle of Exmoor, have horses, dogs, cats and rescued farm animals, and am recently divorced.
I feel as though I'm about to sit my A-levels all over again. Mairead phones to tell me about M, who is 46, in wealth management, whatever that is, and a divorced father of two grown-up boys. We agree to meet the following night in the bar at Claridges. I buy a black lace skirt and silver platforms from Prada, and get my hair done.
He tells me she spent £500,000 of his money on the divorce and that they now barely speak.
I find it annoying that, when I tell him I work for a newspaper, he doesn't even ask which one. ' Thanks to the international nature of Mairead's contacts, the next date is to take place in New York.
Founded in London in 2002 Berkeley International now has offices in Brussels, Amsterdam, Cannes, Monaco, Dublin, Luxembourg, Milan, Paris, Geneva, Malta, Melbourne and New York.
She never sends clients photos, but instead supplies a brief resume of their qualities. He says he likes good hotels and restaurants, long walks and log fires.
But then I reached the first anniversary of my divorce and, much to my surprise, having sworn off men for life, I started to wonder, with the prospect of a great big yawning new year stretching ahead of me, whether there might be someone out there for me and, if so, how on earth am I going to find him?