Nigella Lawson has never been interested in a party lifestyle.

The TV cook, who was forced to admit in court last December that she had taken cocaine and smoked cannabis in the past, made the most of her student days at Oxford University, but quickly grew tired of the ''posh crowd'' and their social life.

She said: ''The thing is, I made friends widely. I did go out a lot, but more of the time I was in my room or the library, recharging and reading or just being exhausted - it was so intense there and I've always had a need to step back and dim the lights.

''I was a bit of an exotic outsider for the posh crowd, and I moved freely between what could be called 'sets', seeming to belong but slightly apart at the same time. It's always been people who interest me, not parties or social life.''

The 54-year-old star - who has children Cosima and Bruno from her first marriage to late journalist John Diamond - prefers to socialise in her own home, surrounded by a close group of friends she feels comfortable enough to wear her pyjamas in front of.

Nigella - who divorced Charles Saatchi last July after 10 years of marriage - told Britain's Vogue magazine: ''I've been able to take pleasure from things again. For example, I had an impromptu dinner party recently here the other night and suddenly, as I was cooking the stroganoff, I felt an incredible sense of comfort come over me because I realised there was nobody coming who I would be uncomfortable in front of just wearing socks and leggings, and no make-up.

''I think that's important, because as you get to a certain age in life, although it's lovely to meet new people, I feel if I am happy to see them in my PJs and dressing then they are the people I really need in my life.''