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When Suzanna Clarke and her husband bought a dilapidated riad, or traditional courtyard house, in the Middle the ancient Medina of Fez, their friends thought they were mad. Located in a maze of donkey-trod alleyways, the house was beautiful but in desperate need of repair. Walls were in danger of collapse, the plumbing non-existent. It was a state common to many of Fez's exquisitely crafted houses, which were falling to ruin for want of local funds to restore them. Or worse, they were being bought by foreigners and modernised. With a view to living there semi-permanently, Suzanna was determined to restore the riad to its original splendour.