History comes alive at Milton Keynes Museum. It is hands-on and enchanting.
But visitor tastebuds come alive too, thanks to the baking prowess of Diane Roder, the museum’s marvel in the kitchen.
Diane – who had trained as a cookery teacher – moved to Milton Keynes in November 1975 with her husband who worked for the Development Corporation.
She met a lady making corn dollies to sell and raise funds for the museum, and thought ‘I could do that.’
It proved to be the start of an enduring relationship.
“I was very involved with various things for years and then when the museum reopened in 1998 after the fire here, the cafe was run by someone else for the first season. And then I was asked if I wanted to do it. I’d never run a cafe before, but said I would give it a go.”
Seventeen years (and thousands of bakes) later, Diane’s cakes are the stuff of legend.
People locally visit the museum cafe for a cheeky slice of cake, and visitors from far and wide leave amazing comments about the moreish sweet things on the museum’s TripAdvisor page.
With so much baking to do, Diane is often found working her magic in the kitchen from 5am.
“I bake every morning, and come to the museum every day,” she says, as if a voluntary seven-day-a-week job is the norm.
“The cakes that do well? Scones and bread pudding always go well.
“The chocolate cake is a hit with children, and the coffee and walnut cake is always a hit with adults.”
Some months, Diane makes more than 100 cakes for hungry visitors.
Mary Berry has nothing on MK’s own baking Queen. And yet, she seldom munches her own work.
“I don’t find food particularly interesting,” she says.
And when she does choose to take a little time off, she spends it visiting National Trust properties. Naturally.
“I watch a bit of telly too,” she reveals, “...but I never watch cooking programmes,ever.”
Like the thousands of visitors who pass through the museum each year, Diane is clearly charmed by the place.
And as she approaches her 75th birthday, this baking goddess has no plans to put her feet up any time soon.
“So long as I am able to keep going, I will,” she promises, “It keeps me busy.-”