Young Vinnie, who lives next door, is keen to test out our riddle solving capabilities.
One example: What has a head and a tail but not much of a middle? It's brown in
colour and not worth very much. Answer: a penny. Well, I say "a coin" but Vinnie is prepared to accept that I am as near correct as makes no difference. Besides, he is keen to carry on posing riddles from a book which once, apparently, belonged to his Dad.
Mr B and I have been invited round to our new neighbours' home for drinks and nibbles. We are almost as excited as Vinnie. We feel most gratified that anybody - especially a five year old - should be quite so pleased
to see us.
Vinnie, regular readers will remember, was "on the case" of our missing gate as soon as he heard about what I like to term "Gardengate". What's more, he had a great many ideas as to how we could
trap the thief into revealing him or herself. Most, if not all, of these involved him in acts of daring detective work from which I had to gently dissuade him.
Has he seen, I ask him, that the gate is back
on its hinges? I explain, briefly, the convoluted chain of events involving two garden gates, three houses, a tree and the final resolution of Gardengate. Vinnie is not prepared to let this go: instead of The Case of The Missing Gates, he announces, we now
have The Case of Replacement of Gates. I can't keep up with Vinnie. It must be because he is five, nearly six, while I have reached a Great Age.
Vinnie's parents suggest that it is their turn to get a word
in edge ways. This afternoon is, after all, supposed to be a "Getting to Know You" session. So far all they know about us is that we are profligates in the Gardengate Department but fairly good at solving riddles. How about if Vinnie now allows his parents,
say, eleven minutes to chat before he chimes in, suggests his mother (who obviously knows her son very well.)
Vinnie thinks this is a fair compromise though he hasn't quite finished yet. He shows
me an app on his tablet which carries a picture of the moon today (a Waxing Crescent, in case you didn't know) accompanied by lots of data which, to be honest, mostly goes right over my head - plus a timer, which he sets to eleven minutes exactly. For my added
information he plays for me the sound of the timer going off - it's called "Spring Morning" and features the Dawn Chorus. Vinnie doesn't know me very well, as yet, but he clearly knows what will be right up my street.
The next eleven minutes pass very quickly; our charming hosts ply us with wine and nibbles, followed by slices of a totally delicious banana and chocolate cake in celebration of St Valentine's Day. We are getting on like a house on fire when the Dawn
Chorus interrupts us.
Young Vinnie is back. He is playing a game on his tablet called something like The Bakery to which he is keen to introduce me. We decide to make blueberry muffins or their virtual equivalent.
They will take twenty minutes to cook and it crosses my mind that this may well be Vinnie's clever ruse for extending his Chat Time.
Had I noticed, my New Best Friend Forever wants to know, that some
of the characters in The Bakery are exactly the same? I study the little people sitting at tables, staffing the cash desk and generally walking somewhat aimlessly around the store and, yes, some of them are identical. A few are trotting around with broken
hearts in little bubbles above their heads. I ask if this is significant but Vinnie just shrugs. He is only five, after all, he has yet to have his heart broken. I am happy to say.
I can't help favourably
comparing the characters in The Bakery with the block-like characters who people the Blockcraft game which Sam, eldest of the (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys installed on the Us Pad for me. I have to admit that I have sadly neglected them. Every so often a
little message will come upon the Us Pad: "Your people are missing you!" So far I haven't felt sufficiently guilty to attend to my people. I can't imagine they are missing me that much.
The blueberry muffins
are cooked; Vinnie suggests we make some chocolate biscuits. His mum makes us coffee because we think we need to go, not wanting to outstay our welcome. It has been a lovely afternoon and we feel full of Good Neighbourliness. As well as of banana and chocolate
Walking down their garden path, on our way back to ours, I look up at the sky. As is my wont. The moon is clear to be seen. A Waxing Crescent, of course.
Vinnie could have told you so.