The Simple Pleasures of Childhood – Belle and Boo

belle hugs boo wall stickerToday’s guest post is from Mandy Sutcliffe, Founder and Co-Director of Belle & Boo www.belleandboo.com She writes about the memories she has of the simple pleasures of childhood and how these inspiredΒ  her illustrations for Belle and Boo. If you’ve never visited the Belle and Boo site before – go and check it out – it is just lovely. And we also have one of their delightful wall stickers to giveaway. Just leave a comment on this blog and from all comments received by midnight on Sunday 5th May we will pick out a lucky winner.

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The summer of 1976 is heralded as one of the best summers ever, I was 3 years old and Mandy Sutcliffe - Belle and Booalthough I can’t claim to remember actual events I can see in the square now slightly faded photos that my dad reguarly took that I had a wonderful, wonderful time.

Now all grown up and proper (well I pretend) I run a company called Belle & Boo with my good friends Kate and Patrick. It is a children’s lifestyle brand that we hope captures the warmth, innocence and adventure of childhood that we were all lucky enough to enjoy. It is best known for it’s nostalgic story book illustrations of children that feature on a growing array of products; wall art, books, chinaware, stationery, clothing & I am the lucky
lady that gets to draw those pictures.

I am often asked where my inspiration for the illustrations comes from and I believe it is a mixture of 3 things.

Firstly my childhood

Belle and Boo - garden daysMy strongest most vivid memories are of play, our garden in hindsight was probably very small, but it never felt like that as a child, I would spend hours on our home made swing head back gazing at the sky between the apple tree branches. In the summer we had a big clunky metal trampoline right next to the paddling pool so we could bounce straight in. We would construct our own mazes and climbing frames from crates and ladders and use ski poles to balance above the shark infested waters.

Occasionally my sister and I would be brave enough to sleep all night in our little 2 man tent and I can still hear the sound of us roller booting up and down the drive way. We pulled each other on a skate board we cycled, we scooted and skipped, we played badminton, blew bubbles, built incredible snowmen, waded in puddles when the lawn flooded and wore our dads huge gloves to hold sparklers on bonfire night. There was a secret passage so we could visit the elderly couple next door, we made dens in the hedge, we walked our rabbit on a lead, we built minature gardens and dug in our our home made sand pit whilst dressed as princesses.

Secondly story books from my childhood

Milly Molly Mandy was the book I was read most as a child, I was bought it because we shared the name and I happened to look a lot like her. I loved the map at the beginning as I could see where she was during the stories, if she was camping with friends or in the woods on a big adventure it was reassuring to know she was just next door to her home or the village shop.

As a child I liked the black and white illustrations enough to colour them in and even cut a few out! as an adult Β I still think they are stunning and constantly look at them for reference. Winnie the Pooh, Little Grey Rabbit, The flower fairies and The Water Babies were also firm childhood favourites and although I went through a rebellious streak at art college I have come full circle and can’t wait to share these books with my little boys.

Belle and Boo and the Yummy Scrummy DayWhich brings me nicely to my third influence; the children I am surrounded
by today.

I know that life is different now than that sunny summer of 73, yes there is more technology, the pace of life seems faster and more stressful but I still see children everywhere playing make believe, running, spinning, climbing finding pleasure in the minutia that we often overlook as adults.

I draw timeless children hugging trees, flying kites or simply staring out on the landscape from their favourite branch. I hope the characters that I draw will create happy memories for the children of today. It is wonderful to receive stories from our customers telling us about how much their child loves a product, how their daughter has to say Good night to Belle and Boo in the framed art print by her bed, or their son that likes to wave to the
children flying above him in his hot air balloon wall sticker.

belle hugs boo wall sticker

As a company we like to remember how lovely it is to receive a hand written letter, a parcel wrapped up in brown paper with string, the little things that say we care and we have time to show you that. Hopefully my drawings and our products will be timeless and good quality enough to be around for a long long time to come.

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Win…..win…win

We have a large Belle hugs Boo wall sticker to giveaway to one lucky winner.Β  The belle hugs boo wall stickerbeautiful wall sticker (shown above) is 70.2cm x 31cm. It is a self adhesive sticker made from an award-winning durable woven fabric. It leaves no sticky residue and it won’t shrink or curl. It even wraps around corners. Whats more- it is so so adorable and could be yours. Simply leave a comment on this blog post and from all comments received by midnight on Sunday 5th May we will pick out one lucky winner. Usual Netmusm terms and conditions apply.

Read more about appreciating life’s simple pleasures here.

About The Netmums Blog

The Netmums Blog brings you a behind the scenes look at Netmums, as well as some fabulous guest bloggers and an up to date look at what's new on our Parent Bloggers Network.
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31 Responses to The Simple Pleasures of Childhood – Belle and Boo

  1. Rachel Sweet says:

    Wow! What a lovely blog!

    It reminded me of my childhood in the 80’s. My brother and I along with our rather grumpy tomcat called Kitty made games and adventures out of anything and everything. Whether it was fishing for tadpoles, making human bridges between two arm chairs so that the other could crawl across; or pouring water down our slide to make a water shoot (the chipboard eventually rotted and my brother fell through the slide- lol!). Our dad loved music and all our play was set to an 80’s soundtrack of Kate Bush and ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’!

    Our childhood was full of grazed knees that didn’t seem to hurt, mud pies and make shift discos in our Uncle Glyn’s front room, bopping along to The Black Lace Party Album! Even know I can’t listen to Aga Doo without thinking of their orange and brown carpet!

    Mandy’s illustrations are beautiful and to me they embody childhood in all its purity. My mum first spotted the illustrations when we were out shopping one day and she said: “Look its you!” Like Mandy, I was a little brown haired girl with a bob and a sense of adventure! I have a sneaky suspicion that my daughter Amelie will be exactly the same- to her even the supermarket is a massive adventure!

    Love the illustrations- keep them coming πŸ™‚

  2. Keri-Anne says:

    I have loved Belle and Boo for years and we have a lot of the merchandise around our house. I just love the brand and i would love to win the wonderful wall sticker!!!

    Keri-Anne
    http://www.gingerlillytea.blogspot.com
    x

  3. Emily says:

    Hi, this is the first time I’m heard of Belle and Boo but I can’t wait to have a look at the website as the little girl in the illustations is just like my daughter Amelia – she is 3 and loves nothing better than to spin round and round on her rope swing which is on a cherry tree in our garden, she is full of adventure and her soft toy rabbit (called “Rabbit”) is never far behind. Thank you for this lovely blog πŸ™‚ Emily.

  4. Michelle Harris says:

    Loved this blog! I’ve never heard of Belle and Boo before but now that I have I’ll bee looking for merchandise for my girls (and admittedly myself)!

    Michelle xx

  5. Iisa says:

    It reminded me off my child hood my sister and I, standing at the fence or climbing over shouting our best friend next door, making mud pies in our den for hours on end. Brilliant blog!!!l

  6. Kate says:

    What beautiful images, truly captures the innocence of childhood. Love them!

  7. Karen Brady says:

    This has been lovely to read. It reminds me of the childhood I want my little girl to have. I want her to play outside, find bugs in the mud and make houses with cardboard boxes and use her imagination. I am lucky that she loves to do these things and we encourage her to do so. I have never seen your beautiful things before, but I will be having a closer look. The illustration of the girl on the swing reminds me of my favourite childhood poem “the Swing” by Robert Louis Stevenson.

  8. Jenna says:

    Wow, these are beautiful drawings…each picture is so beautiful, innocent and perfect to represent childhood.

  9. Abigail says:

    Reading this has brought back a lot of childhood memories – another child of the 70s here! Love your illustrations..Would look lovely in my little girl’s room! πŸ˜‰

  10. I love the Belle & Boo illustrations. I think I first came across them on twitter. they remind me of a time when childhood was just that, particularly for girls. I would love to have a wall sticker for my 1 year old daughter’s nursery. Fingers crossed!

  11. melanie stirling says:

    These pictures remind me of my little niece,she’s always carrying or talking to animals.

  12. Michelle says:

    What a lovely blog πŸ™‚
    I’ve never heard of Belle and Boo before but will now be keeping an eye out for them.
    My daughter was sitting with me earlier when I first took a look at this blog and when she saw the stunning picture of the little girl holding the bunny she asked me if it was a picture of her….. so sweet, my daughter is only 2 and has a cute bob hair cut just like in the picture so I can see why she asked.
    Im looking forward to finding other Belle and Boo products. Scrummy day looks just fab. xx

  13. This is absolutely gorgeous and would fit so well as we’re currently in the middle of decorating our little girl’s room!

  14. Kathryn MacKinnon Cook says:

    Very sweet! I love the paper aeroplane boy illustration & have it framed in my little boys room.
    X

  15. Debbie Hall says:

    Hi everyone….this is a new one for me which is sad as its such a lovely idea and after looking at the web site I feel Ive missed out but its not too late I have 3 lovely grandchildren who love story time when they stay with me so I will be looking in the libruary for these books and if they enjoy them will buy them to add to the libruary they have at my house. We have just moved and the spare room is for our grandchildren and the sticker would look great in the reading corner πŸ™‚
    Thankyou for having such a great guest and informing me on these delightful books.

    Nana Bear

  16. Rachel says:

    New to Belle and Boo too, what a lovely blog, cheered me up to read. The wall sticker is gorgeous and would be lovely on my baby’s bedroom wall. Just got the telly on listening to how our little ones are growing up in a digital world which isn’t stimulating to their imaginations. I’ll be making sure my little girl grows up with all the traditional ‘old fashioned’ ways of having fun, what a beautiful childhood to have, full of lovely memories πŸ™‚

  17. Minxy 40 says:

    Our children have so many opportunities to visit other countries in an all inclusive holiday village bubble that could be anywhere in the world .but to see them make rosΓ© petal perfume in a big bucket in the garden ,stirred with big sticks and make a den over your washing line and clean you out of home made ice lollies when all the kids on the street appear in your garden -you know you re doing a good job as a mum and are ‘keeping it real ‘ and doing your best in the school holidays

  18. bluesandbows says:

    Reblogged this on bluesandbows and commented:
    Belle and Boo is one of our favorites! A beautiful brand with the most beautiful illustrations : ) we simply love it!

  19. mrsbris says:

    They are very beautiful pictures – they are wonderfully nostalgic! I love the party and home decoration ranges and would love the chance to win this wall sticker for my children’s bedroom.

  20. Emma Telfer says:

    I have never heard of Belle and Boo before and I am so glad that I now have! The illustrations are just beautiful and my little girl will just love it I know it!! My little girls imagination is just fantastic just now with imaginary friends and a lot of pretending so cant wait to show her Belle and Boo! πŸ™‚

  21. kjomo says:

    I have followed BelleandBoo for a long while. I am an American woman, spending my day, all of my time actually, fighting cancer. I adore children and always worked with the. As a Nanny, as a Pediatric Nurse and I had 2 foster children that I cared for on weekends. At this point in my life, there really are no children who I see on a regular basis. That is definitely the most difficult part of being ill!
    I spend much of my time in my bed and I attempt to make it my Happy Place. I surround my bed with lovely images. I have wanted a BelleandBoo donut sticker to put on the wall, right next to my bed. I pray that I win this Giveaway. Thank You, for hosting the Giveaway! Hugs ~ Jo

  22. ladyhawke says:

    I love, love, love the illustrations of Belle and Boo. They are simply beautiful. So I take the chance to win the wall sticker and hope that I’m the lucky winner.

  23. veena hirani says:

    I loved your blog!!! So real and it sets me back in time – I was only a baby in 1976 (that’s when I was born!!)I had never heard of Belle and Boo, but by sharing your experiences in the blog, its like all the other stories/characters that I’ve loved, and now this can be shared with my children. Like these characters, they too, have fantastic imagination and ofter do role play and make potions/medicines from various materials. I would love to be able to decorate the girls’ room with the beautiful wall art too. I simply love it πŸ™‚

  24. Renee says:

    Belle and Boo makes me want to relive my childhood all over again. It’s so whimsical and beautiful to be able to see the world through the eyes of a child.

  25. Georgia Brungs says:

    Wow what a beautiful wall sticker! My two daughters would love this for their room I too loved Molly Molly Mandy and the flower fairies! I have a daughter called daisy so had to order the beautiful flower fairy print! Thanks for the chance to win!

  26. Lucy Hall says:

    How lovely, I have never heard of Belle and Boo before but it reminds me of the books my mum used to read to me when I was a kid. My little girl would love these and I will keep an eye out for these books in future πŸ™‚

  27. Rosa says:

    Beautiful illustrations, I really like the vintage and retro feel to them. Those are the kinds of books that are special.

  28. Karen Howe says:

    I have just redone my toddlers bedroom in complete belle and boo and have spent hours creating picture frames out of the playcards and dress up dolls. These wall stickers are brilliant, well maybe a little too good, as got a bit carried away moving them around trying them in different places. I would have plenty of fun the rearranging this large belle one. x

  29. Hollyann says:

    Wow! I loved getting to read a bit more about your childhood Mandy! In Canada it is “screen free week” meaning that we should all put down our screens and head outdoors. I think your point about noticing the small things in life is very important. Thanks for sharing! Ps – I am a huge Belle and Boo and would love to win this prize!

  30. Jay Green says:

    Really nice to read, thank you. Love the Belle and Boo illustrations, they really tap into some half-forgotten childhood memories, but are bright and fresh enough for my little girl. Lovely.

  31. Rachel says:

    Childhood can be such a wonderful time, with memories to treasure for a lifetime. Belle and Boo seem a good addition for a child’s book collection.

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