Sometimes you find yourself going off track on a Caribbean ceilidh tour and become immersed in all things Benedict, Barbados and reparations.
St Nicholas Abbey and Steam Railway sits inland in the north-east of the island in the St Peter region.
And little about this tranquil location betrays its links to an Oscar winning actor other than the framed painting of Joshua Cumberbatch, his seventh great-grandfather.
Something which on our visit there they wanted to play down… naturally.
And particularly because the Cumberbatch/Caves no longer own the former plantation and its grounds.
That responsibility is now Bajan architect Larry Warren and his wife Anna’s who bought it in 2006.
And their sons Simon and Shae who have overseen a meticulous restoration of the property as an operating sugar plantation.
You’ll likely see Simon at the climax of the tour when you sample the rum.
The St Nicholas Abbey rum may take you by surprise, or the one I imbibed did… more of a liqueur but a glorious addition to the range.
Simon is as warming as the rum and delightfully self-deprecating.
Joking to groups that he doesn’t blame us for thinking from the sound of his voice that he’s pissed.
The truth though, as he’ll tell you, is truly heartening as he was in a coma for months after a driving accident and which you can read on his alma mater’s home page.
Back on track
If the St Nicholas rum has whetted your appetite then you can wind down in the Terrace Cafe after your visit to the house.
And refresh yourself with rum punches and a fish cutter (my fave, but the menu is extensive).
In the sanctum of the overhanging trees overlooking the plantation’s lush tropical gullie.
St Nicholas Abbey is a hell of an addition to Barbados’s visitor experiences…
And as you wend your way up to the house your mind may drift to Benedict Cumberbatch‘s forebears.
And think too about the sweat and toil of those working here.
They still are on the steam train, but it’s refreshing to see that today’s staff will be heading for a beach bar at the end of their shift.
The house is a charm too, only one of three Jacobean-style mansions still in the Western Hemisphere.
We can point too about the history of the house, Benedict, Barbados and reparations.
But anyone who has visited will know who has the real claim on the house…
The cat, whose name I didn’t get but I’m thinking maybe, Nicholas.