I spent 2 nights and 1 morning in Dover with my brother Jesse and his fiancé Rachel. Jesse and Rachel work as landscape designers by day and do some pretty amazing work in the Portsmouth, Dover greater area. Jesse also works as a Chef but it turned out that the two nights I was going to be there, he didn’t have to work. I arrived on Monday evening on June 8th after leaving from northern NH and stopping in Portland, Maine for a few hours. Jesse and I hung out for a bit at his place until Rachel got home and we caught up for a bit. Then Jesse and I walked downtown for some dinner.

I like Dover. The downtown has a nice feel to it with a bunch of restaurants and bars and consignment shops, etc. It is an old mill town outside of Portsmouth, NH and there is a river running through the downtown with old mill buildings. One of the buildings has a pedestrian bridge outside so you can see the falls and a museum inside it.

We had wings and drinks and then walked around Dover for a little while on the way back to his place. When we got back we hanged for a bit and Jesse warned me that he had planned a “day in the life of Jesse” for me the following day, so I got to crashing.

And he delivered. On Tuesday we started with some bagel sandwiches and iced coffee from one of Jesse’s favorite local spots, and then we went off to a landscape supply store for some stone fill. We loaded his Ford Ranger and were off. He described the house as a sort of collection of all types of plants and garden paths, with beehives on the property and a manmade pond, and a dock onto the water and deck outback. It was everything he described and it was beautiful. It seemed like an ongoing and organically evolving collection of things that the owners enjoyed that all fit together nicely with a keen sense of design.
We added the stones to help build up the walkway to a garden path that Jesse designed and built. We used shovels and rakes to spread the new stones around and blend them in with the existing walkway and driveway. After some instruction from Jesse, I think I did OK but it was important that I stepped back and let him really run the show. I was impressed with his ability to imagine how it would look when we were finished and then actually work to make it happen. It was rewarding and fun and interesting all at the same time.

From there we were off to a different landscaping supply store and picked up some sand. We drove to a house in Portsmouth that was one of the oldest homes in the town, with a big old tree that I should have taken a photo of. We worked to rebuild a brick path that ran from the driveway around the back of the house to the rear entrance, and was falling apart. The woman who lived there needed a smoother and more level surface so she could navigate it more safely.

We picked up all the brick that needed to be replaced and tossed out the old and broken ones. We then dumped and spread sand in the areas that we uncovered in order to provide a base for the bricks. There was a pile pf bricks on the property already, so we grabbed from there to replace the broken ones and allow us to build the path even wider around the corner behind the house. After positioning the new bricks, we would hammer them with a soft mallet to seat them in the sand. After we got the bricks placed in the path, we dumped more sand on top of all the bricks and then used a broom to sweep it into all the cracks. This filled the area in between the bricks providing a more secure hold and a smoother surface.
When completed, we headed into downtown Portsmouth and I got a bit of a walking tour. I had been to Portsmouth before but never wandered down to the waterfront. Jesse grew up in the Portsmouth area with his Mom, and as he showed me some places he frequented as a kid and talked about his time growing up there we did some good bonding. I really enjoyed Prescott Park near the water and we just chilled and I laid in the grass looking at the clouds for a bit while we waited for Rachel to join us. When she made it, it was starting to look like rain was coming so we walked in the opposite direction and crossed a bridge onto Peirce Island. Here we met one of the chillest dogs I’ve ever met. She was just wandering around and bringing sticks to strangers to play fetch with. Rachel found the owner who said she grew up going to the island and basically thought she lived there.

It did rain over Portsmouth and when it seemed to be about done, we crossed back into downtown. We wandered a bit and then looked for a place to get dinner on the waterfront. There is a cool spot called The Decks that is basically a collection of restaurants and other businesses that are connected like row houses and share a large deck that overlooks the Piscataqua River. Jesse and I were craving nachos and we found a great place called Pocos Bow Street Cantina. We ended up ordering veggie nachos and adding chicken, because the veggie nachos had artichokes, spinach, corn and black beans and that sounded delicious. It was.

The next morning we got up, I got ready to leave town, and we went to breakfast. We went to a nice diner on the main drag and then wandered down to the mill building to check out the scene. Then we snapped some photos! And I headed out of Dover on my way to Boston.

Thank you so much for having me, Jesse and Rachel. I had a really great time and I want to come back to hang soon. I’m impressed with how hard both of you work and I had a great time helping out, even just for a few hours.

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