What you put into life is what you get out Her pas­sions and life lessons that make mary berry who she is

TV pre­sen­ter, cook­ery writer and na­tional trea­sure Mary Berry, 82, shares her mem­o­ries, pas­sions, fears and habits. She lives in Hen­ley, Ox­ford­shire with her hus­band Paul Hun­nings

Woman & Home - - Editor’s Letter -

What is your ear­li­est cook­ing mem­ory? a do­mes­tic sci­ence les­son with my teacher, miss Date. i made a trea­cle pud­ding, which i brought home, and my father said, “it’s as good as your mum’s.” miss Date was knee-high to a grasshop­per, round and jolly and very knowl­edge­able. i loved ev­ery les­son be­cause she was pa­tient and gave praise. We kept in touch through­out her life.

did you have a ca­reer plan B? Cook­ing was the only thing i was good at. my head­mistress told my par­ents that the other thing i could do was be a nanny. my father replied, “i’d pity the child.” that wasn’t kind, was it?

Best de­ci­sion you’ve ever made? to fol­low my dreams, to do what i en­joy.

And the worst? i think that one con­ve­niently for­gets bad de­ci­sions… What has been your great­est achieve­ment? When i won last year’s na­tional tele­vi­sion award for best tV judge. i was sure that len Good­man or si­mon Cow­ell would get it. i was also hon­oured when i was given a life­time achieve­ment award from the Guild of Food Writ­ers, and when i was awarded a Cbe. each time some­thing new comes along you think, “Gosh, how very nice.”

the best piece of ad­vice you’ve ever been given? my hus­band al­ways tells me, “Don’t put off what you could do to­day un­til to­mor­row.” He says it when­ever i say i’ll do some­thing later. He tells me to do it now and he’s ab­so­lutely right.

What is your best qual­ity? i think i’m fairly loyal.

And your worst? i’m im­pa­tient. i’m al­ways try­ing to com­plete some­thing and i’m very im­pa­tient if it’s not work­ing. i want to fin­ish a job, do it well and not have it hang­ing over me un­til to­mor­row.

Great­est fear? los­ing any of my fam­ily [mary’s son, William, died in a car crash when he was 19].

Who would you in­vite to your dream din­ner party? to me, a dream din­ner has to be with my friends and fam­ily

– my chil­dren and grand­chil­dren. i have no am­bi­tion to dine with a prime min­is­ter or any­thing like that.

What is your big­gest pet hate? late­ness. i’m one of those peo­ple who is al­ways early. For­tu­nately, Paul is the same.

We’re al­ways likely to be sit­ting out­side a church or shop wait­ing for it to open.

Your favourite ever fash­ion item? the sparkly, pink­ish dress i wore to the baF­tas in 2016 and on the High­clere Cas­tle episode of my pro­gramme, Mary Berry’s Coun­try House Se­crets. it’s by de­signer adri­anna Papell and i love it.

Have you ever made a fash­ion faux pas? For me, a fash­ion faux pas is if i wear trousers that are too short in the

win­ter. they look fine in the sum­mer with san­dals, but in win­ter i look hideous with a trouser-shoe gap!

What is your con­fi­dence trick? two things: be­ing pre­pared and dress­ing the part. it’s a mat­ter of do­ing your home­work, whether that’s know­ing where you’re go­ing or re­search­ing ahead of a meet­ing. in terms of dress­ing for con­fi­dence, a good pair of trousers and heels does the trick for me.

How do you re­lax? i have a sub­scrip­tion to woman & home, which my sis­ter-in-law, mar­garet, buys me ev­ery Christ­mas, so i en­joy that. i also en­joy walks and play­ing ten­nis – badly! i play with the same four friends and re­ally, it’s about friend­ship rather than ten­nis.

does any­thing keep you awake? think­ing about work. i’ll get up and make notes, then go back to sleep again.

do you have a se­cret skill? i’m very good at clean­ing out drains!

What has been your most ex­trav­a­gant pur­chase? Re­cently, it’s an ali­tex green­house. at the mo­ment it’s empty but i can’t wait to get go­ing in it, grow­ing toma­toes and cu­cum­bers. And your most trea­sured pos­ses­sion? a Valen­tine’s card William drew of him and his two si­b­lings as lit­tle ele­phants in dif­fer­ent sizes. i’ve al­ways kept that.

What is the wildest thing you’ve ever done? ap­pear­ing on Point­less Celebri­ties with Paul Hol­ly­wood. i al­ways said i wouldn’t go on a quiz show and i was ter­ri­fied. Paul was the brains, i was the dumb one. never again!

Your most im­por­tant life les­son? What you put into life is what you get out.

And the se­cret to a happy re­la­tion­ship? Re­spect, sin­cer­ity, fair­ness. w & h

Clas­sic mary berry is air­ing on BBC One. The ac­com­pa­ny­ing book Clas­sic by Mary Berry (BBC Books) is avail­able to buy now.

The best de­ci­sion I ever made was to fol­low my dreams, to do what I en­joy

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