Gardoolet: WIN this summer's best garden game

Girl playing Gardoolet

Easy to set up, you can be playing Gardoolet within minutes of opening the kitbag. - Credit: Julie Newton

The clue's in the name - Gardoolet. A clever blend of GARDen, pOOL and croquET, it's a game designed to be played outdoors on grassy areas. What could be more fun on a summer's day in the garden?

Gardoolet has been invented by Norfolk farmer Nick Alexander. A keen croquet and pool player, Nick wanted an outdoors game that was fun, yet quick to play and on a smaller scale. Crafted in Nick’s home in the beautiful coastal village of Bacton and assembled in the nearby village of Northrepps, Gardoolet is produced as locally as possible and is designed to stand the test of time. 

When the Newton family were invited to try it out we jumped at the chance. It sounded great fun for the whole family and intriguing. 

It’s really well made from high quality wood and comprises two specially designed mallets, manufactured from a combination of heavy and hardwearing hickory and ash, and six hand-shaped spruce side rails, coated with premium Danish oil. It comes with perfectly weighted balls, hoops and an official rulebook, and the entire set comes neatly packaged in a beautiful green bag with handles, making it easy to store. It also pops into the back of the car so you could take it on holiday or when you're visiting friends and family.

Setting up was quite quick and simple - it's always a bonus if there's nothing fiddly to put together - so within minutes we were set up to play. 

Gardoolet is more compact and fast-paced than croquet. A game only takes about 10 minutes so you can get plenty of return matches going, and you can play singles or doubles, so everyone can have a go. Players swing a mallet croquet-style with the aim of hooping their four coloured balls through ‘pockets’ like those on a pool table. The winner is the first to hoop the black ball after hooping all their coloured balls.  

First to have a go were the children who played against each other, with one starter ball each. There was lots of laughter and a bit of competitiveness too - I could see the fun and entertainment they were getting from the game. The balls slowly got potted and eventually the black ball went through. Game over, another one was quickly started! 

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Great for the garden, I can imagine Gardoolet working in other settings too, such as parties and weddings, guests playing outdoors on grass. Even at work events in good weather. It's great entertainment for all ages - I would say for children from 11 years plus and no limit for adults. 

The Gardoolet set is robust and would be weatherproof but it's so simple to pack up and compact to store that I would suggest it's best kept in its case when not in use. It's the sort of thing you'll want to look after and hand down the generations.

We all enjoyed playing it and being outdoors together. We even took it round a friend's house to play - the children played a few times, then the adults took their turn. Like pool, we doubled up rather than playing singles, which made it more sociable and competitive. With the wine flowing nicely, I'm convinced this is just as much fun for adults as it is for children. Brilliant idea, Gardoolet! 
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Ends July 31 2021

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