So I’m currently very very excited! Like jumping up and down excited … and it’s not because it’s Christmas this week which is what I’d normally be jumping up and down about at this time of the year … but because on Wednesday me and my other half are heading to Morocco for Christmas and New Year! We’re heading off on a tour of the Atlas area for 8 days including Marrackech, Todra Gorge … where we’ll spend Christmas Day … and we’ll also be camel trekking and spending one night in a Berber camp in the desert, then back to Marrakech for 2 nights and a bit of luxury in a gorgeous Riad!

(You’ll have to excuse the myriad of exclamation marks in this post but it just shows how excited I am!)

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One of the main reasons I am quite so excited is the fact that since setting up Knots & Kisses in 2009 I haven’t really done much ‘travelling’. Oh we’ve been on a short group holiday to France and a weekend break to Stockholm but not what I would call proper travelling. And I have a severe case of the travelling bug so for me its been a long wait to pack up my rucksack again and head off somewhere where I really feel like I’m exploring and discovering new cultures.

Up until the age of 28 I hadn’t really been anywhere at all. Other than 2 or 3 family holidays to Spain when we were little and a school trip to Calais, I hadn’t really been out of the UK. I’d always wanted to but just never really got round to it. In 2005, however my world turned upside down when my Dad, who I had adored all my life, suddenly died of Leukemia after only 2 months of being diagnosed. To say I was devastated would be the hugest understatement … I was incredibly close to my Dad and his death almost destroyed me. I tried to carry on working at my visual merchandising job but any joy I had left for it had gone and I often found myself ‘hiding’ in my office crying rather than face the shop floor. I ended up quitting my job and moving back to my Mum’s near Birmingham as I just couldn’t cope anymore.

It was then that I decided that I needed to get away from it all and decided that I was going to take a year out and go travelling.

And that’s when I got the bug! I travelled to Singapore and then on to Australia for several months before heading back to Thailand and Cambodia for a few more months in South East Asia and it was amazing! Travelling on my own was such a buzz. Finding hostels, forcing myself to socialise and make friends to travel further with, and being able to pack up my rucksack and move on whenever I liked gave me the most amazing confidence and sense of freedom. Exploring new places and experiencing new cultures gave me so much joy. The whole world felt vibrant and full of colour and sights and sounds, and I felt totally alive! I discovered I had a real passion for travel.

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So when I returned to the UK after travelling I knew I couldn’t go back to visual merchandising. At the time I wasn’t yet confident enough to explore setting up the creative business I had always dreamed of, but I knew I wanted to carry on travelling and talking to people about travelling … so got a job at Flight Centre as a travel sales consultant and spent my time chatting to people about all my adventures. Luckily this also meant I got to experience even more adventures around the world and whilst I was there I was extremely fortunate to be able to travel to China and Antarctica as part of groups of travel agents. Such different experiences but such amazing things to do … I would thoroughly recommend both destinations be on your ‘bucket list’ of places to go if you can before you die. Antarctica especially was out of this world … with the absolute highlight being a humpback whale popping up right next to our zodiac boat when we were out on the water for the day!

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When I decided to set up Knots & Kisses I knew it would be a while before I could afford and have time to properly travel again but being so excited about my business I knew that was something I would have to deal with. Now Knots & Kisses is 6 years old each year my feet were getting itchier and itchier to get out there and travel again. For me, I am as passionate about travel as I am about stationery, and I don’t think I can live without either for very long! So to get my rucksack back out this Christmas and go and explore somewhere new and exciting is amazing … and what’s even more amazing is that this time I get to drag my gorgeous other half Ant along for the ride! He’s never really traveled at all so experiencing his first travelling experience with him is just going be so exciting! I think the only thing he may not be looking forward to is stopping me from bringing back half of the Marrakech markets home and keeping my shopping habits in check!

I’m really looking forward to sharing with you all of our adventures and photos when we get back in the New Year!

Nikki x

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