A newly opened riad in the Fez Medina offers a garden of earthly delights.
|Owner of Riad Idrissy, John Twomey|
"There are two ways of living - vegetating and getting on with it," he says. Naturally, he is passionately aligned with the latter group. "I am aware of the length of time I've got left, so believe you should live everyday like it is your last."
Born in Dublin, Twomey spent twenty years fencing for Ireland - for a decade he was the National Fencing Champion. "I've lived in Germany, Spain, Estonia, Hungary and spent a lot of time in France," he says. Along the way, he picked up a bevy of languages, including Russian and Estonian. Then he got involved in starting a bank, "so I was able to enjoy careers in banking and fencing hand-to-hand".
But when he moved to London in 1996, he went off on another tangent altogether. Twomey fell in love with the Ten Bells pub in Spitalfields, an old area of the city notorious for the Jack the Ripper murders. The heritage-listed Ten Bells was built in 1753 and had previously been run by Jamie Oliver's great-great grandfather.
"Restoring the pub was good training for a 500 year old building in Fez," Twomey says.
|Interior of Riad Idrissy|
Twomey first came to Fez on an exploratory trip with Mike Richardson, the proprietor of the renowned Cafe Clock in Fez and Scorpion House at Moulay Idriss. By the end of their first weekend, both had purchased properties.
|One of the many objects from around Africa|
|Four guest bedrooms are decorated in different styles|
|A section of the garden created from the adjoining ruined riad|
For more details, see riadidrissy.com or email Robert Johnstone on firstname.lastname@example.org
Story and photos by Suzanna Clarke