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Today, I took the opportunity of a school field trip to give myself a one day 'mental health' vacation (I am a strong believer in the restorative effects of stepping away from the usual work routine – but probably don't do it as much as I should!).

So, in the company of about 20 children of about 13 years of age (including my son), a handful of alert chaperones, the class school teacher, and a local expert on St. Louis history, I walked a long up, down and around trek through the streets of downtown St. Louis city. …

We started off with a slow school bus ride through the progressively worsening St. Louis traffic (thanks to a series of major road work projects that are currently underway), but eventually wended our way into the downtown one way system – entertaining in itself as we made a few unnecessary loops in our efforts to locate our guide for the day.

Find her we did, though, and gathered ourselves together to view the Campbell House, the first and only existing town house in the downtown area.Charmingly small and with a beautiful tree in full leaf in the garden, this house has been largely restored to the way it looked in the 1870s – not that long ago by European standards, but a vast leap by American standards.(It's one of paradoxes of America that it has, by now, a rich and deep history but in terms of local acknowledgement the country's attitude is similar to that of England at the turn of the 18th to 19th centuries i.e. only the first flowerings of a movement to recognise and preserve the past).

We whizzed through the house in about 5 minutes flat (time was against us), then passed through a renovated downtown warehouse (complete with complaints from the concierge about all those children) into a side street adjacent to the City Museum This is wonderfully eccentric fantasy playground for adults or children designed and realised by Bob Cassilly on the site of a rundown and disused warehouse.
Another lightning visit to this place too (fortunately most of us had been before and thus were not too deprived) and onward into the streets.We took in some of the remarkable buildings – the Southwestern Bell building and a shining white terra cotta decorated set of renovated apartments – before we all gathered at the war memorial for another history lesson (that I dodged by wandering about taking photographs).Then it was off to find some lunch, taking a circuitous route passing the beautiful red Merchandise Mart on the way
And that's enough for now – tomorrow I will put up some more photographs and complete the tale. 🙂