Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Crazy golf? You bet!

Not a lot of people know this but in the 1930s the roof of Selfridges boasted a pleasure garden, cafe and golf course. This summer it has been reopened to host the Big Rooftop Tea and Golf Party; it's golf, but not as you know it.

British food architects Bompas and Parr have designed a 9-hole course that puts the crazy right back into crazy golf. Each hole is a tribute to a treasured London landmark, modelled as if made of elaborately iced cake or jelly - and realistic enough that one of the club rules is 'No licking the obstacles'. Now that's not a sentence you hear every day.

Step out of the Express lift into a 'Mad Hatter meets genteel English village fĂȘte' blur of bunting, teacups, strawberries and golf balls. Collect your putter, choose a pastel-coloured ball, grab your gloriously cherry bakewell-scented score card and make your way to the first hole - the Portal of Destiny. Big Ben, Nelson's Column, and a rather wonderful Tower Bridge (complete with rather thoughtful shrimp net to retrieve errant balls from the water) are all here.

St Pinbaul's is a rather tricky fifth hole, complete with tempting jellyesque models of St Paul's (I did manage to restrain myself from licking, but only after a prod or two revealed them to be more solid than you would expect from the real deal). One of the joyous side-effects of freely-accepted madness is the inevitable shedding of reserve between strangers. How can you hope to adhere to social norms when you are belting a pink golf ball at a giant piece of cake?

The final hole is a twirly lilac Gherkin (okay, 30 St Mary Axe) and then you can tot up your score and retire to the cafe for some well-earned refreshment. I know we probably should have had the afternoon tea, but my companion and I were waylaid by the menu into a glass of Prosecco and a Gin, Elderflower and Violet jelly; a delicately-hued and delicious treat to round off our superbly random London afternoon.

You'll have to hurry as 2nd September is the last day. Online tickets sell out pretty quickly but they keep tickets back for walk-ups each day; go through the Fragrance department on the ground floor and you'll see two lifts on the right. The left hand lift is the Express lift straight to the top floor and should have a hostess with a clipboard standing next to it. You can book your tickets there - time slots should be available throughout the day.

If we're talking high tea it doesn't get too much higher than this.

Yours, in fabulously British randomness,
Girl About Town xx

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