Mayfield Antiquity

“I want brides to be able to bury their head in their bouquet!” Melanie laughs.


A coolroom warbles away in the back of the private studio, filled with the heady scent of roses, the beauty of a garden and the sound of pop ballads jamming from inside.


“The acoustics in the coolroom are fantastic!” Melanie grins. “When I prep a bouquet, I pump up the music and sing LOUD. There’s Whitney, Bryan Adams… they all help the job get done!”


We are visiting the private studio of Mayflowers Vintage Florist – home of the vintage tea cup posy.


 Ben’s sister, Melanie Stewart, tells us how she opened Mayflowers Vintage Florist four years ago, “With $20, a teacup collection and some Mother’s Day orders!”

Now a booming fulltime business for Melanie, we take a look into her passion for everything pretty.


An advocate for the use of seasonal blooms from local growers, she loves supporting the local flower farms and believes that the best smelling flowers are ones produced naturally, at the right time of year.


“I want brides to be able to bury their head in their bouquet!” Melanie laughs.


“Floristry is to paint a picture with flowers, it is an art and every florist has their own form of expression, their own style,” Melanie explains.


Melanie’s expression is to blend her lifelong love of flowers, with her ever-present passion for everything vintage and Victorian.


Melanie’s Nan,had a magnificent garden, where a love for foliage and colour was ignited, while her Aunty May further fuelled the flames sending exquisite bouquets to young Melanie home every sunday, via her Grandmother Ethel-May.


Its a beautiful botanical nod of the head that the business is called Mayflowers.


And the vexation for vintage?

“It started with a pink Victorian jug that Mum displayed in my room as kid. I would take it out of my room and she would bring it back in. It grew on me eventually, then I became an antiques addict too.”



Studying Naturopathy and Aromatherapy while working in Glebe, Melanie would purchase a special tea cup set each week from various second hand and antique shops.


“Each cup is specially picked, some are from the late 1800s while others are unique gifts, like sets from people as they went off to war in the early 1900s,” Melanie tells us as we take a look at her extensive collection, cups adored with Remember Me and Think of Me sit lovingly on display.


“I love roses, and Queen Anne’s Lace is gorgeous to work with,” Melanie tells us when we ask about her favorite bloom. “Also, garden Carnations have a wonderful smell if they are the heirloom variety.”


Being in this industry, Melanie has come to know and love many of her clients, “Grooms return each year to buy a bouquet on anniversaries – clients have become friends as I get to collaborate for their special occasions.”


Melanie recently provided a tea cup posy to be displayed in lieu of a casket spray.

“A lovely local family had been buying tea cup posies from me for four years for their Grandmother. Last week I was honoured to complete her final bouquet.”


Melanie’s passion for everything vintage and anything blooming is alive in every corner of her bright smile. Her love for her craft and the community that she serves is infectious.


“I’ve been in Mayfield for sixteen years now, we have raised four children here and its just beautiful,” we are told as we ask what Mayfield living is like. “Not only is it a great place to live but its rich in history – obviously something that I appreciate!”


“The old homes, the architecture, the community and the remnants of an old orchard here and there. It really is a place with a rich history and an exciting future.”


To learn more and love a life you love, contact Villager Property. 




Surf & Certainty

While surfing has always been a big part of life for Bede, so has his connection to people.

From friendships to teaching, and now volunteering, which is one of his biggest missions.

“Do you like children?” Asked a Career’s Advisor.

“Take them or leave them. Preferably leave them,” answered Bede.

While a morning surf at Caves Beach every day was a certainty, an RSI injury 6 weeks out from completing his trade in Carpentry, left a 22 year old Bede Thoroughgood with a lack of direction. 

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With some slight persuasion, Bede was showing up for his first shift at the local preschool.

A day full of engaging, supporting and encouraging 3 – 5 year olds.

A massive shift in direction. 

And he loved it.

Although only rostered on for 3 days a week, Bede found himself turning up daily.

“I just loved it. If the surf was no good, I’d be back to help out at the preschool.”

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It wasn’t long before Bede was studying for his Teachers degree. In the first 12 months he received the Ralph Basden High Achiever Award.

“I’d never been really academic,” Bede tells us, “But when you find something you love, it all becomes so natural.”

During his degree, an emotional trip to the Stockton Centre would again change the path Bede was travelling. A passion for teaching students with disabilities emerged. 

Bede has been a commited teacher for local children with disabilities ever since. 

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Villager Ben met Bede and his wife Bronwyn when they moved to Newcastle, helping them to find the perfect home to raise their 5 children and also with their investment property portfolio. 

“Growing up in Valentine I never thought I’d be a town clown”, but i couldn’t have hoped for a better place to live and raise our family. I love living in Hamilton –
wild horses couldn’t drag me away”

Many years after his property purchases, a great friendship continues between Ben and Bede. The pair surf together regularly and Ben’s 2 daughters think Bede’s Donald Duck impersonation is world-class comedy. 

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While surfing has always been a big part of life for Bede, so has his connection to people. 

From friendships to teaching, and now volunteering, which is one of his biggest missions. 

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And just like in his career, life steered him in this direction.

In 1992, as a glass of water slipped out Bede’s left hand, he spun his right hand around and caught the glass but in the process twisted his spine, resulting in a prolapsed disk which left him partially paralysed from the waist down.

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“The first thing I asked the Doctor was when I could surf again. “You’re joking right? Was all he said to me.” 

Through a long period of rehabilitation, getting back in the water reamined Bede’s goal.

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This twist of body, became twist of fate as he found himself involved with the Disabled Surfers. 

“They needed volunteers and while my back wasn’t yet fully recovered to be lifting right out of the waves – there was plenty for me to do.”

Disabled Surfers has around 200 volunteers and are always looking for more – from surfers to cooks, supervisors and helpers. 

“I understand how incredible a day in the surf is, for both mind and body, when you are feeling constrained.”

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Bede completed his training at Blacksmiths Beach in 2010 and by 2013 became the Hunter President of the Disabled Surfers Association.

“It’s great to spend the day helping kids with disabilities have a surf, while the whole family spend a day at the beach together – something that without volunteers, is near impossible for some families to do” 

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“Volunteering gives you the opportunity to lose yourself and you become a better person in the process,” Bede says. 

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“Yes, I’m passionate about it, but I do get paid. I get paid in smiles.”

Now his mission within the association is building a bigger and better future, with more volunteers and traveling events to places like Stockton Beach and Fingal Bay. 

A testament to committing to your passion and finding a way to live it. 

“I said to my son recently,” Bede recalls, “If you are getting up in the morning and doing what you do because you love it, then you’ll always have work.” 

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To find out more living a life you love in Newcastle, contact Villager Property.

Calm & Connected

Home should be a place you retreat to. Unwind, savour life.

Home should be your sanctuary.
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A place to retreat, unwind and savour life.
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Away from the stresses of everyday life.
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In the lakeside suburb of Warners Bay, in the quiet neighbourhood of Vennard Street, sits a home that has incorporated these values.
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Through tropically inspired landscaping, a gated entry invites you into the retreat of this home.
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As the large verandah wraps around the house, it leads up to decking – a spot to entertain  by the cabana.
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A hot tub bubbles away, drinks line the bar, just perfect for entertaining.
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Or perhaps,
finding peace on a Sunday afternoon while the palms sway in the breeze.
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The outdoor areas flow seamlessly with the interior. From the formal entry at the front;
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To the sliding glass doors and open servery from the rear family room.
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The formal dining room and kitchen catch gorgeous afternoon light, these alongside the living area create a gorgeous open space; perfect for engaging the whole family and guests.
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Space for the family to breathe…
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The four bedrooms all feature built ins, and windows overlooking the gardens or the elevated views.

The master bedroom features an ensuite and walk through robe; A parents sanctuary.

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All the features are here to accommodate the family.
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Double garage for 2 cars plus extra space for storage.

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Two living areas for that extra sanity is required…
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A view to the backyard, verandah and decking from the family room,
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and all in a quiet locale close to schools, shopping centres, Lake Macquarie esplanade and parklands.

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This bright and uplifting home is waiting to be embraced and enjoyed.
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Life is sweet…

No longer working with Rod, pouring cake batter is more Snellys style these days rather than pouring concrete: Snel is now affectionately known around town as “Mr Cupcake”.


From owning a successful restaurant in New Foundland, Canada, to starting a boutique bakery in Newcastle, Australia – the story of Mara and Snel is a search for sunshine and sweetness. 

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Although they dearly loved their late-night establishment in the Great White North, once their family began to grow, the couple decided on a lifestyle change.

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A search for a sunny, vibrant community to raise their family (now 3 boys) in was about to begin.  


They came to visit Mara’s sister who was studying at the University of Newcastle and once they arrived they simply fell in love.

“We became instantly inspired and excited to raise kids in Newy. We love the climate and lifestyle – it just fits us perfectly!” Mara tells us.  


Saying farewell to family and friends, the pair found a beautiful home in Islington.

“We totally love the community feels at Izzo! Its artistically urban, we are close to our neighbours and we know so many people now in this community – there are lots of people with common interests here.” 


In 2013, once the pair settled in Newcastle, Snelly started working with Rod Roewekemp in the construction and concrete business while Mara put her cooking skills to use making macarons and cupcakes.


Mara had learned to cook while working on outback cattle stations.

“Cowboys love sugar!” She laughs


The brand FiFi La Femme was born, and the sweets were sold wholesale to local cafes. The pair also got up at 4am on weekends to hold various market stalls around the Hunter.


Those market stalls drew quite a bit of attention, and the people of Newcastle became fans of Fifi!  

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Not hard to see why.


No longer working with Rod, pouring cake batter (not concrete) is more Snelly’s style these days. Snel is now affectionately known around town as “Mr. Cupcake”. 

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With a professional bakery in Islington making over 15,000 delicious creations a week, the days of baking until 3am for a 5am start at the markets are behind them – but there are many exciting things to come. 


Fifi La Femme recently celebrated its 3 year anniversary, now with 2 shops inside Charlestown Square, regular artisan market appearances and specialty wedding and occasion cake designs.

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All with a flair for fun, of course!

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“Cakes make people happy,” say the pair, “and that makes us happy!”


“When a customer contacts us after they have purchased a cake for their wedding, birthday or anniversary and tells us what a great night they had, how the cake was fabulous, it almost feels like we are sharing those moments with them.

Those special life moments – that’s an amazing feeling.”  

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Live your dream in Newcastle. Contact us today to start the journey.



Quiet Achiever

So why the newspaper?

“Light the fire!” Rod laughs.

“Read the sports section first though!” adds Daniel.

pretz and rod-2Rod
and Daniel grew up together in Whitebridge.

When Villager met up with Daniel this week, the two reminisced about early days when they would hitchhike down to Dudley beach – back then a dirt track – with a loaf of bread, a can of beans and a newspaper.

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“Once you got down there you would spend the whole day down there, ” Rod recalls ” Have a surf, warm up by the fire and cook some beans for breakfast. “

So why the newspaper?

“Light the fire!” Rod laughs.

“Read the sports section first though!” adds Daniel.

Still keen on surfing, Daniel rides with the Dudley Boardriders Club – which enjoys a friendly rivalry with the surf club of his new hometown Redhead, where he lives with wife Lara and their 3 children.

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Now both business owners in the construction industry, the pair continue to grow concurrently.


Daniel was passionate about architecture and custom built, quality construction from a young age. After school he went to university to study construction, before he accepted an apprenticeship .


A quiet achiever; Daniel focused on minimal designs, raw texture and superior quality building.

The eclectic style of housing in Newcastle has allowed Ledbury Constructions (formerly Ledbury Blatchford Constructions before his partner retired) to build many unique architecturally designed homes.

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Rod and Daniel have completed 5 homes together including one of their favorite projects – a 70s inspired concrete and glass home in Frederick Street, Merewether.


Passion and dedication to quality has seen Daniel gain a high level of respect in the industry and a prize winning portfolio as well.


2005 “$500 to 1 Million Home of the Year” MBA (Ledbury Constructions)2007 “$1 Million and over Home of the Year” MBA (Ledbury Constructions)

2007 “Home Builder of the Year” MBA (Ledbury Constructions)

2009 “$1 – 2 Million Home of the Year” (Ledbury Blatchford Constructions Pty Ltd)

2009 “Home Builder of the Year” MBA (Ledbury Blatchford Constructions Pty Ltd)

2011 “MBA Custom built home over 1 million” (Ledbury Blatchford Constructions Pty Ltd)

2011 “MBA Housing builder of the year” (Ledbury Blatchford Constructions Pty Ltd)

2013 “MBA Custom Built Homes Over $2 Million” (Ledbury Blatchford Constructions) Project – Curved Beach House.

2013 “MBA Young Builder of the Year” (Daniel Ledbury)

2013 “MBA Residential Builder of the Year“


While engaged with the business and raising a busy family, Daniel has remained committed to the community and is educating the next generation of builders.

Daniel is always training an apprentice, and has seen to completion 8 tradespeople in total. His first apprentice is still working with him 12 years later.


With the healthy market in Newcastle, we are excited to see the next award winning project from Daniel and Ledbury Constructions.

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To find out more about how to build your dream and love where you live – give us a call and we can help you start your next exciting adventure.