How do you make diehard townies pack their bags and leave the M25 for the countryside? You lure them in with flowery descriptions, name-dropping and house parties, says Violet Hudson...
So you live in the middle of Lower Back-Of-Beyond, Nowhereshire, and it takes 17 hours and costs hundreds of pounds to get there. (It's actually a cottage in Somerset, but that's what it feels like sometimes). You don't even like it that much. So how on earth do you get your friends to come and stay? Why on earth would they when, in town, they can take in an avant-garde show, drink a soya latte at 3am and have gold leaf stroked onto their skin by way of a facial?
The key to making your friends want to visit lies in the word 'country'. For many townies, the word sums up images from the Graham and Green catalogue (little do they know), so be sure to pepper your invitation with plenty of flowery descriptions. Don't be afraid of speaking in a way that wouldn't be out of place on the side of an Innocent Smoothie bottle. 'We can go for a really lovely country walk and there's this lovely little country pub we can go to and we can have crumpets by the lovely country fireplace.'
You may also be rewarded by playing a long game. Six months before you want friends to come and stay, stop complaining about the cold and the ever-present animal crap and the catty village gossip. Drop names of social trail-blazers who have previously visited, or, better yet, live locally. Post pictures on Facebook of guests happily toasting marshmallows over a bonfire. Send out copies of Cider With Rosie or any book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Pretend you live in a smarter county than you do -Gloucestershire is better than Worcestershire, for example, as Herefordshire is better than Shropshire and Norfolk better than Suffolk, and a lot better than Lincolnshire. Once they're beyond the M25, townies may not notice where they are.
You could try dangling other impressive potential guests in from of them. All social life, frankly, is a chance to get off with people, literally or figuratively. Casually mention that the only way to really get to know someone is over a weekend house party in the country. It's basically a microcosm of a relationship as you run the gamut of experiences: lunch in the pub, long, leisurely walk, smart supper, raucous late-night drinking, a chance to roll in the hay-bales...
For resistant diehard townies, you may as well cave in and demonstrate just how sophisticated rural life has become. There was a time when you had to shop on Bond Street or Sloane Square to look like you were on a grouse moor. Now (imagine!) there are helpful branches of Brora and Toast in all corners of rural locations. There's no need to confine yourself to the Daylesford in Westbourne Grove and Pimlico because guess where else there's one... Daylesford! You can get the exact same organic butternut squash salad in Gloucestershire as you can in W11. Heck, you can even have the same massage.