St Nicolas Abbey. The first and most shocking thing to know is it is not an abbey, never has been and there are no monks from a long-forgotten order distilling Rum; but there is Simon Warren who has restored this national treasure and saved it from the clutches of those wishing to convert it into another condo development. Simon invites you to sample his 5 and 12 year-old rums, but not the 18 year-old for fear of you having the desire for the 18 year-old but not the wallet and leaving empty handed on the basis of ‘if I can’t have the 18 year-old I don’t want the 5 or 12.’
The tour is my absolute favourite thing to do in Barbados (apart from lying on the beach and eating). It’s a fantastic personal history that whilst making mention of its earliest days, really captures the early twentieth century and the film made by the one-time owner when on a visit from London is a must watch. The humour from the guides is irreverent at all times but joker in chief is Simon who cannot open his mouth without saying something truly funny.
If you feel the need to leave your sun lounger this is the must do and I’ve left out all the best bits so you can experience them for yourselves. And for Mums with school projects looming, there’s so much material here to adapt to any part of the school curriculum.
For those on a tight schedule, keep a few minutes spare for Cherry Tree Hill, a left out of the St Nicolas gate and up a gentle slope shaded by overhanging Mahogany trees. As you come over the brow of the hill, the East Coast of Barbados is spread before you. This is a ‘must stop’ for selfies and group shots.
For those with the day ahead of them and looking for adventure then you need to consult your guide book, but if you can settle for the best views in Barbados continue on down towards Bathsheba. This coast is not for the tourists, this is where Barbadians come to hide, so no Chefette, but the local restaurants serve some of the best Rotis and fish you’ll taste and a visit to a rum shack provides vital resus (drivers are advised to abstain). Your route home from Bathsheba takes you through Cane fields and if your map lists a Signal Station nearby, visit and take in the views which will help you see why Barbados is sometimes called ‘Little England’