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London - She was a working mother at a time when it was a less common phenomenon.
For Mary Berry, however, trying to juggle her career and family life is something she now says she regrets.
The star of The Great British Bake Off was a magazine cookery editor, first at Housewife and then Ideal Home, and in 1966 published her first book.
But her decision to be a working mother in the late Sixties and into the Seventies is one that still fills her with guilt.
Berry, now 77, said: “I really didn’t think I was the most brilliant mother.
“I was very keen on giving the children the right food, but I didn’t play as long as I could have.
“My husband always did the reading every night with the children because I was always trying to do two things at once. I didn’t do enough homework with them.”
Berry, who has 70 cookbooks to her name, also revealed that she allowed herself only five weeks of maternity leave after each child was born – because she was too afraid to ask for more time off.
In an interview with Hello! magazine she said: “I would have liked to have stayed with the children, but I didn’t have enough confidence to say, ‘Okay, I’ll take two years off’ as at that time someone else would have taken over.”
Berry, who lives with her husband Paul, 80, in Buckinghamshire, has two grown-up children, Tom, 45, and Annabel, 41, who have five children.
She will also be remembering her son William, who was killed in a car crash aged 19 in 1989.
Berry added that she prefers her Christmases to be traditional.
“I am never going to have a silver Christmas tree,” she said.
“It does get a bit crazy at times so we’ll sit and play Scrabble or go for a walk. I also always get a jigsaw puzzle out, so if it all gets too much for anyone they can sit and do that quietly for a while.”
And although Berry admits to planning the day with military precision, she enjoys the atmosphere of fun created by the grandchildren.
She said: “I love the chaos of it all, but it’s got to be planned.” - Daily Mail