What is the best Christmas present a sex toy geek could hope for? I was hoping to find a few vibrating treats beneath the Christmas tree, but I certainly wasn’t expecting the email I received just a week before Christmas day.
It was from Lovehoney – the UK’s biggest online sex toy retailer and the very company that had inspired me to become a sex toy reviewer. I guess you could say that I am a bit of a fangirl. Inside the email was an invitation to visit the famous Lovehoney headquarters in Bath. I’d get to tour the facility, meet the staff members and I’d even have the opportunity to do some filming. It was a Christmas dream come true. After wiping the cheesy grin off my face, I replied to the email and plans were made for me and Mr Gritty to visit in early January.
The Drive Down to Bath:
I’m not the most confident driver (motorways scare the hell out of me), but I decided to drive because the journey by train was much longer. Well, that and the fact I had packed the entire contents of my closet. A girl can’t have too many shoes, right?
Despite my nerves, the five-hour trip was uneventful. It was dark by the time we began our descent into Bath, yet we were still treated to an incredible view. In the distance, the city lights twinkled, guiding us in.
Lovehoney had booked us a room at a gorgeous bed and breakfast just a few minutes drive from their building. We dumped our bags, tested the bed (not like that, tut tut) and headed straight out to find somewhere to eat. We had heard great things about a local bar called The Boathouse, so we made our way there, stretching our aching muscles after being cooped up in the car for so long.
Feeling relaxed after a delicious meal and an ice cold lager, we headed back to the B+B for a hot shower. We hit the sack soon after, in preparation for an early rise.
I woke at 5:30 am, the nerves and excitement preventing any more sleep. We had arranged to meet Sally (Lovehoney’s amiable PR person) at 7:45 am and although we were minutes away from the headquarters, we still managed to get hopelessly lost down a one-way street. It wasn’t the best start, but Sally was there to greet us with warm smiles and reassuring words when we turned up ten minutes later than expected.
Sally guided us through one of the offices, introducing us to staff members on the way. I didn’t recognise any of the faces, but the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. We found an empty table at the back of the room and sat down to enjoy a morning brew. Occasionally, somebody would pop over to say hello and wish us well. In no time at all, I felt my anxiety subside.
As we finished the last of our drinks, Lee (Lovehoney’s incredibly knowledgeable camera-operator) joined us at the table. Friendly and enthusiastic, Lee took us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the building where Lovehoney do all of their filming and photography. It was surreal, standing behind the desk where the gorgeous Lisa and Annabelle do their filming, surrounded by cameras and lighting equipment. I suddenly felt rather inexperienced and the jitters came flooding back.
Clearly skilled at his job, Lee managed to put my mind at ease, while simultaneously indulging Mr Gritty, who was busy drooling over all the technical equipment. After sharing a bunch of insightful tips and tricks, Lee showed us to a cosy set, where we began our preparations for filming.
When I record video reviews at home, I often use a script to help jog my memory. This morning, the filming would be relaxed and unscripted so I expected to freeze up and forget everything I knew about sex toys. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. After a shaky start and some helpful tips from Lee, I got into my stride, chatting away like there was no tomorrow. I spent the next two hours reviewing some of my favourite Lovehoney sex toys, including the amazingly powerful Lovehoney Deluxe Magic Wand. The experience blew my mind and taught me a lot about vlogging.
They say that time flies when you’re having fun. With midday approaching, we broke from filming to have a tea break. As we sat around the table, musing over the morning’s events, I saw somebody approach who I recognised immediately. It was Jess, Lovehoney’s writer, forum moderator, model and expert in fetish wear, bondage and burlesque. Could this woman be any more skilled?
As it turns out, Jess is just as lovely as she is talented. She introduced me to the equally lovely Leanne (who is covering for Cazz while she is on maternity leave) and we all gathered round to discuss vlogging and sex toy reviewing. It’s possible (okay probable) that we lost track of time. Pretty soon, Lee had to excuse himself as he had more filming to do (he is a very busy man!), so we said our goodbyes and promised to keep in touch should we ever need advice.
I could have chatted to Jess and Leanne for hours, but time was pressing on. Sally popped over to ask if we would like to be taken on a tour of the Lovehoney warehouse (Erm…Yes please!), but I couldn’t leave without snapping a few pictures with the ladies first.
On the way to the warehouse, Sally handed me a Lovehoney gift bag. “We didn’t know what to get you since you already have everything” she laughed. Inside was a Lovehoney gift voucher. I felt truly spoilt.
We entered the warehouse. Down every aisle, shelves were stacked to the ceiling; each one brimming with sex toys of all shapes, sizes and colours. Warehouse staff were busy picking items and packing orders. I felt like a kid in a candy shop. Since the infamous Victor dildo is no longer stocked at Lovehoney, I went on a mission to find the largest dildo I could. It’s not Victor, but the one I found was definitely impressive! I wanted to bring it home and try it in my strap-on harness but for some reason, Mr Gritty wasn’t quite as enthusiastic.
Sally finally managed to drag me away from the sex toys by mentioning lunch. Lovehoney had ordered in, so we headed to the kitchen via the customer care department. Passing one desk, I was introduced to the lovely Jennifer, who managed to make me blush when she told me how much she enjoys my blog. I write about sex, so it is not often I come face-to-face with people who know what I do. Jennifer made me feel proud of my work and I suddenly felt my enthusiasm for writing return after a difficult December. I will never forget her kind words. We snapped a picture together, with a promise to chat again next time I am in Bath.
Still reeling from my chat with Jennifer, Sally ushered us into a large office. A large table dominated the room and five people were gathered around it, enjoying relaxed and good-humoured conversation. My heart skipped a few beats as I glanced around, recognising the faces before me. First, Sally introduced me to Neal Slateford (co-owner of Lovehoney), who shook my hand warmly and agreed to pose for a photograph.
Next, I was introduced to Alice Little (Head of Online Trading). I think I blurted out something about food and cats (See people! This is what happens when you follow somebody on Twitter!) and while I waited for the ground to swallow me, Sally continued around the room, introducing me to Bonny Hall (Product Director), Paul Jaques (Quality and Technical Manager) and Eve Slateford (Product Development Coordinator).
Neal explained that they were meeting to pick a winner for Lovehoney’s Design a Sex Toy competition and I was given a sneak peek at some of the entries. Let’s just say I wish I had such a great imagination! After some friendly chit-chat, we left the group to their arduous-but-enviable task and headed off to grab lunch.
In typical Lovehoney style, lunch catered for all tastes. Spread across the table was a large platter of sandwiches, cold snacks and a variety of sweet treats. There was enough food to feed ten people, so we bagged some up for the trip home and shared the rest with the staff in the customer care department.
Sadly, we had to leave soon after lunch, as we had a five-hour drive back home. We said our goodbyes to Sally, who had been an amazing host and took a few pictures of the awards and media articles lining the walls at reception. I even spotted an article in which I had been quoted, so now I get to tell the world that my name appears on the wall at Lovehoney (Stop giggling! That’s my claim to fame!).
I want to thank Lovehoney for the fantastic opportunity. It was certainly an experience I will never forget. I had an absolute blast working with Lee and I always relish the opportunity to ogle so many sex toys (it’s not often I get to see a collection larger than my own, but I think Lovehoney have me beat!). What made our trip truly memorable though, was getting to meet so many talented and friendly people; each and every one keen to share a smile, pass along some tips and make us feel incredibly welcome. It’s really not hard to see why Lovehoney have such a long awards list and why I remain forever ….a fangirl.
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