From biogs of Lord Nelson and Henry V to Florence Nightingale and Cromwell, from colourful fairytales to books on car maintenance, Ladybird books were a huge part of British childhood from the 1950s to the early ’70s. Merryn Threadgould’s utterly absorbing film explains why, with the kind of attention to detail that could only be born from a real love for its subject. Illustrations are pored over and their relationship to the real world explored, outspoken historical texts and pithy précis of fairytales are analysed, and an array of adoring fans (among them Andrew Motion and Lucy Mangan) let rip with their childhood memories of the books.
It all builds to create a warm picture of a company that put its readers at the heart of a magical experience, helping us to understand the importance of the books as educators to children fascinated by the world around them. If you’re not phoning your mum to see if she still has your old ones after this, we’ll eat our ‘Ladybird Book of British Railway Locomotives’.
Situated by the Millennium Bridge and facing the Tate Modern, the Shard and Shakespeare’s Globe, Northbank is worth visiting for the views of the Thames and the South Bank alone. That the food is great is almost a bonus. Northbank offers a modern British menu with a nod to owner Christian Butler's Cornish roots. From Dorset crab and Falmouth Bay scallops, to Tregothnan Estate duck and west-country cheeses, the south-western influence is evident throughout. A starter of pan-fried scallops with confit chicken wings kicked things off beautifully. It’s not a pairing you come across often, but it works; the soft, sweet scallops balanced perfectly with the salty crispiness of the wings. The mains are where Northbank really shines. Red mullet with roasted Jerusalem artichoke, truffle purée and artichoke crisps is a triumph; delicate, yet full of fascinating flavours and textures. The cauliflower and truffle risotto with parmesan crisps was another highlight; surprisingly light yet ridiculously moreish. A side of cauliflower cheese arrived at the table still bubbling – gums were blistered, but it was worth it. The desserts don't disappoint, either, with a rum and passion fruit soufflé as light and fluffy as a cloud. The Northbank ‘Viennetta’ with honeycomb, meanwhile, is a nostalgia-pricking treat, executed with elegance. The cocktails at Northbank deserve a shout out, too, not least because there’s a whole section dedicated to drinks made with Cornish mead. Try the Honey Mead Rise
Venue says: “Every Friday - rib-eye steak, fries or salad and a drink for £20. Available for lunch and dinner.”