Summer is here, the temperature has already been in the high 20s prompting the UK to strip naked and head to the beach. The English Summer is not known for reliability or longevity, though, so, if you are among the lucky ones who are flying off to some far off exotic place this summer then read on. This two-part guide will prep you up with all the best advice – how to pack sex toys for air travel, the best products to take with you abroad and the best toys to spice things up when out and about.
It occurred to me recently that the attitude I have towards sex toys has changed drastically in the last ten years. But is it because I'm older and wiser, or is it just that there are so many more amazing sex toys on the market than there were back in 2007?
Sex toys in my 20s: exciting but simple
I still remember the first sex toy I ever bought. And it might surprise you to learn that it wasn't a vibrator. While many girls have their first sex toy experience with a bullet or a rabbit vibrator, the first one I shopped for was a strap-on dildo. Yeah. I KNOW. I was pretty lucky.
I'd ventured into sex toy shops a little with my first boyfriend, but we'd end up just coming out with a stash of condoms or lube. I think on one occasion we ventured into the 'sexy DVDs' section of our local shop and wandered out with some not-very-hardcore porn. But the first actual toy I bought was in the first year of university, when a guy I was sleeping with drove me to a seedy-looking place on the outskirts of the city and we bought a big dildo with an elastic harness.
It was pretty awesome, and somehow made even sexier by the fact that the shop hid the purchase on the debit card under the shop name 'DIY solutions.' An amazing piece of euphemism if ever I heard one.
From then on, new toys were bought mostly by the guy I was with – he had more money than I did, while my student loan was a bit stretched even eating only beans on toast. We tried ben wa balls, anal vibrators, and he bought me my first ever rabbit. A toy I loved so much I shagged through at least a hundred AA batteries in the first year of owning it.
But back then sex toys were often very simple, and the thrill of them came from the fact that they did new and interesting things. They were also things I wanted to hide from people – I'd be horrified if a flatmate walked into my room at uni to see a dildo displayed on my desk (which happened more times than I'd have liked – I am a bit rubbish at tidying). What's more, the toys were very specifically things I would only talk about with a partner. Whispers of 'what do you think about trying this...?' late at night, in the dark.
Sex toys in my 30s
The main difference with sex toys in my 30s is that I have abandoned a lot of the shame or secrecy I used to have around sex toys. Things which I'd have kept hidden from view ten years ago are now often either displayed around my house or left drying in a line alongside the bath. I'd probably do a whip-round to take them off display when my parents came round, but friends I know and love enough to invite to my house are not only OK with seeing sex toys, they also frequently ask for recommendations.
Buying sex toys now isn't about whispered conversations and secret credit-card transactions either. I buy sex toys in the same way I buy new household gadgets and appliances – looking at reviews, comparing different brands, and weighing up all the options. This is partly because these days I care more about quality. When I was in my 20s sex toy selection was about deciding what I wanted – a butt plug, say – and then picking the cheapest one available in my local sex shop. Perhaps one of the greatest things the internet has done for me is make it possible for me to make active choices about the sex toys I buy, rather than being limited to a few options bought in a rush because I'm nervous about being in a seedy-looking shop.
Are these differences all down to my age and wisdom? I don't think so. Although I definitely have a more mature attitude to sex toys in my 30s (I'm unlikely to giggle at a sex toy unless it's particularly weird-looking), the main thing that's changed is that sex toys have simply got better. Much better. The difference between a good rabbit vibrator in 2007 and a good rabbit vibrator in 2017 is almost as great as the difference between a Nokia 3310 and an iPhone 7. Sex toy manufacturers are coming out with toys that are more innovative, powerful and downright beautiful than the options that were on offer before. And the fact that you can buy them online at sites like this means there's no need to go hunting for your local seedy shop with boarded-up windows if you want to browse the options.
It's partly because the world has moved on – at least some of the credit is down to amazing sex educators who have been successfully spreading the word that masturbation is fun and normal, and sex toys are a great way to enhance it. But it's also partly driven by the fact that more people are listening to that message and actually buying sex toys. The more people who buy, the more manufacturers (and distributors) can invest in coming up with even more new and better things.
In my 20s, the sex toy industry was a bit like I was: trying hard but not quite there yet. In my 30s, the sex toy industry has blossomed like I have into a discerning and innovative pervert. Long may this trend continue.
It's broadly accepted, in much of the mainstream media, that when it comes to shagging you can never have too much of a good thing. So initial reports this week that people are having less sex than we did 20 years ago might give you cause for alarm. Don't worry, though, I am here to calm your worried, potentially sex-starved mind.
Recently, I ran electric current through my junk and then had sex with my partner. In isolation, that sounds like a bizarre and – frankly – torturous thing to do. But when you know a bit more about electrosex, you'll understand why it was so incredible. Let me tell you about ElectraStim.
It sounds like an oxymoron, but strapless strap-ons are definitely A Thing. Designed to provide delicious sensations to both the giver and the receiver, these unique toys are well worth a try if you're a fan of pegging. But how the hell do you use them? Allow me to explain...
At the moment, I cannot get enough of sex tech. Whether that's sexy robots who are coming to shag us all (it's a thing – really) or bluetooth-enabled sex toys that put a serious buzz into your long-distance boning. Every year that goes by, sex gets more interesting – we learn more about the ways in which different people get pleasure, and we develop shiny new toys to make the most of all the cool things our bodies can do.
And sometimes we make drones with dildos attached.
Christmas is over, and the more organised among you might have finished putting away your tree and decorations by now. If you're anything like me, you're probably looking back on 2016 and thinking 'well, that was a *&^ing disaster, wasn't it?' Lots of our favourite celebrities left us, there were divisive elections aplenty, and there's nothing much to look forward to in 2017 except more fake news and fights with anonymous eggs on Twitter.
It's getting near – your advent calendar is half empty, you've probably had at least one too many mulled wines at a Christmas party, and Christmas day is nearly upon you. But if you're still stuck on sexy Christmas gifts to buy for your partner, we've got you covered. Check out our sexy Christmas gift ideas and get all the info on last order dates to make sure they get there in time.
We Brits have a long and happy tradition of stealing great ideas from America – from Hallowe'en parties to Friends quotes, we're happy to pick and choose our favourite stuff and bring it over here to brighten up our otherwise grey and rainy lives. Black Friday – the day when retailers offer massive discounts for reasons we Brits don't fully understand – is just one of those traditions.
What makes the perfect sexy surprise? Timing is definitely key – you don't want to surprise someone with a romantic, candlelit bedroom if they got home from work so tired they just want to fall asleep. Nor do you want to send a saucy snap when they're in the middle of a family outing.
On top of timing, you've got to pick something that they'll actually like: the most surprising sexy gifts have to be ones that speak to their fantasies as well as yours. It can be tricky. But feel free to learn from my occasional successes and all-too-frequent mistakes: here's my guide on sexy surprises.