‘My blow up doll has stopped me feeling lonely!’

Faced with weeks on her own in isolation, Helen Rimell, found an unusual BFF - and doesn't mind that she's a complete airhead

Helen and her blow up doll

by Mel Fallowfield |
Updated on

Photographer Helen Rimell usually goes out at least four evenings a week with friends. So, when lockdown began, she was worried she’d struggle being on her own in her London flat for days on end.

But then a chance encounter inspired an inflatable solution to her loneliness. Helen, 39, was out for her evening walk a week into lockdown this March, when she came across a blow up sex doll at the side of the path.

She says, “I spotted a sex doll and for some reason she captured my imagination. I christened her Gladys and imagined she’d had an owner called Bob who’d dumped her. I went back the next night and she was still there.

“I felt rather sorry for her – but it also triggered an idea. I could have a blow up doll to keep me company - I realise it sounds bonkers but I thought it would be fun!

"I’d been worried about being on my own and lonely as I’m so used to being out and about with my mates. I didn’t have anyone else to spend time with during lockdown. I’m in the very early stages of a relationship so it was too soon to move in together.

“But getting a blow-up doll seemed like the perfect idea. At least I didn’t have to worry about us arguing!”

Helen spent £15 on the doll online
©Helen Rimell

The next day Helen spent £15 on a doll online. She says, “I couldn’t believe how excited I was when she arrived two days later. I blew her up immediately and named her Gladys in honour of the abandoned doll!”

And since then Gladys has been by Helen’s side constantly and they’ve shared lots of adventures.

Helen says, “She’s the ideal companion – she never complains and we’ve done so much together already.

“On the first evening that she arrived we got dressed up and had cocktails together. She’s a bit smaller than me but I put her in my shortest outfits. I always iron both of our clothes so we look smart and it’s fun making sure we have co-ordinating outfits.”

Shortly after Gladys arrived, Helen was struck down with suspected coronavirus.

Check out: the best sex toys to make self-isolation more exciting

We may earn a commission for products purchased through these links


Sex toys for self isolation - slider

social-isolation-toys1 of 8
CREDIT: Love Honey

Lelo Insignia Soraya Luxury rechargeable rabbit vibrator

BEHOLD: the Rabbit of the future. So named for its ear like clitoral ticklers, the Rabbit is still the most iconic sex toy around. This sleek black one by luxury sex toy brand Lelo not only looks super sexy, the brands trademark 'rumbly' vibrations coupled with G spot stimulations offer the most intense orgasms we've had.

social-isolation-toys2 of 8
CREDIT: Love Honey

Lovehoney Classic mains powered magic wand vibrator

If you've not tried a magic wand, prepare to have your mind well and truly blown. The UK's favourite sex toy website reimagines the classic Hitatchi wand that promises to be "stronger, quieter and more powerful than ever before." It plugs into the literal wall socket so that should give you an idea as to how robust this thing is.

social-isolation-toys3 of 8
CREDIT: Womanizer

Womanizer Premium

The latest in sex toy tech means stimulation through air pressure and German company Womanizer was the first to develop sucky-air technology (the technical term) in the most beautiful, palm sized toys. This bad boy offers a totally distinct experience, gently "sucking" the clitoris rather than using vibration to get you off. It's not cheap, but it's worth the money.

social-isolation-toys4 of 8
CREDIT: Love Honey

Lovense Lush 2 App controlled rechargeable Love App vibrator

Welcome to the wonderful world of teledildonics – toys that hook up to apps on your phone. If you have a long-distance bae who you can't see now you're self-isolating, then we have just the sex toy for you – a wireless wearable vibrator which can be controlled by anyone you give access to, through an app. Cor, we know how we're spending our next 'date night'.

social-isolation-toys5 of 8
CREDIT: Beauty Bay

Smile Makers The Romantic vibrating dildo

If it's good old-fashioned penetration you're after, this cute vibrating dildo manages to avoid being intimidating whilst still packing a punch. Its angled head and clever detached motor deliver direct G spot stimulation with a ridged shaft for added sensation. Like all good sex toys it's got various pulsation modes and is completely waterproof – it's basically your new boyfriend.

social-isolation-toys6 of 8
CREDIT: Love Honey

Lovehoney Hot Shot Rechargeable warming male masturbator

While the Orgasm Gap (quite rightly) means most of the pleasure industry is designed with women in mind, toys for the man in your life do exist. Now, we don't have the appropriate hardware to confirm, this warming masturbator is 'designed to mimic the sensations of the mouth' and looks hella cool to boot. Order one for your other half and let him in on the fun.

social-isolation-toys7 of 8

Lust! Erotic Dice Game

While our social feeds are full of family's bonding over long-forgotten boardgames, don't underestimate the good clean (kind of ) fun of adult games. This dice set contains six die - red is an action, blue is a body part and green is a part of your house to get up to business in. Just THINK of the combinations you could roll...

social-isolation-toys8 of 8

Loving Joy 20 Function Rechargeable Power Bullet Vibrator

For a purse-friendly option that's discreet but no less powerful, a classic bullet is a fail-safe option and a staple of any sex toy collection. This rechargeable one from Loving Joy delivers precise external stimulation, without the faff of tracking down tiny batteries for it.

She says, “I started having symptoms such as tiredness and a cough. Rather than worry though, I was relieved that I had Gladys to keep me company. I decided she could be my nurse, so I put her in a white dress, the closest thing I have to a nurse’s uniform, and set her up with a flannel to mop my fevered brow. It cheered me up having “someone” else there.”

Helen was bedridden for the next few days but as she recovered she started planning more things to do with Gladys.

She recalls, “To start with, we stayed close to home, sipping drinks on the balcony and admiring the sunset and the river view from my flat. But when I felt better, I decided it was time for her to go out and about. We share clothes, she looks great in my dresses, and she’s come to the post office with me to send friends presents. She’s also joined me on trips to the supermarket, and we get a few looks, but a lot of people have smiled and have started a conversation!

“When I went out without her before people would just ignore me. Now she sparks conversations wherever I go. People love that she’s keeping me company - though obviously they just admire her from a two-metre distance!”

Helen says Gladys is the perfect friend
©Helen Rimell

As well as errands, the pair also bake together and watch films. Helen says, “Gladys never argues with my choice of film – she’s the perfect friend.”

Helen regularly posts what she and Gladys are up too on social media.


The best adult colouring books that are actually really fun

Amber Gill claps back at Love Island troll who 'hates' her in the best way

The best sex toys to make self-isolation more exciting

NOW WATCH: The cast of Winter Love Island expose the show's most outrageous secrets | Love Island Secrets

She says, “My friends love following our antics. And the bloke I’d just started seeing finds it hilarious.

“But seriously, Gladys really has stopped me from being lonely. I chat away to her even though I know I can’t expect a reply but it’s just reassuring to know she’s around.

“When we went into lockdown I never imagined it would last this long and I think having Gladys has made it so much easier for me - but she really has stopped me from feeling deflated! We do everything together but she sleeps in the spare bed as I don’t want to squash her.

“I’m very glad I’ve got Gladys, she’ll always be very special to me, even after the pandemic is over. She'll continue to live with me and my friends can't wait to meet her. I'll make sure she comes to the pub for cocktails with us. She's been the perfect friend and flatmate!”

Follow Helen on Instagram @helenrimell and @ginfizzphoto

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us