This morning, I was reflecting on beta-blockers. They were referred to in the book I’m reading at the moment, as having been prescribed to counter feelings of anxiety.

Some years ago, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I was prescribed some medication designed to lower it. The medication made my ankles swell up and, when I reported this to my GP, he reduced the dose and prescribed beta-blockers to be taken in addition. Previously, I had only heard of beta-blockers as something that snooker players took to help steady their cue hands. The combination of medications was effective in lowering my blood pressure and I thought nothing more of it.

This was around 2015 and I did notice subsequently that I had slowed down a bit. I didn’t seem to have much energy. I’d fall asleep in front of the TV or find myself staring into space in work. I put this down to getting older.

Following a procedure to address some atrial fibrillation I’d been having, another doctor altered my prescription in late 2017, lowering my dose of beta-blockers. Well, my goodness, it was like being poked in the face with a sharp stick and I haven’t looked back. The fog of indolence lifted and I felt as if I had twice the energy that I had before. And so it is to this day and hopefully for the foreseeable future.

There ARE downsides. Too much thinking, sometimes obsessively. Not enough sleep. Some anxiety and hyperactivity. Occasional frustration and impatience. Stressing over unimportant issues. Throwing things and shouting (but not at other people, I hasten to add). Putting the energy to good use by, for example, engaging in creative stuff, helps to counteract some of these, however. I rarely achieve calm though, unless I become absorbed in an alternative activity. That can get a bit wearing, to be honest, and occasionally I crash.

That’s got nothing to do with the stuff I’ve been doing in the last few days. I just wanted to get those thoughts out of me and on to a page.

I saw this on Instagram and decided to have a go. I drew a heart shape, some leaves and flower shapes, cut them out with a sharp knife and laid them on top of a contrasting background. Quite a nice effect and easy enough to do.

In the last post, I mentioned that I had made a bags of a macrame bracelet. So I made another one. I kept away from the superglue this time and so the slip knot slips in the correct manner.

I haven’t done any wood carving for ages. One of the reasons is that I’m not very good at sharpening tools and some of them are a bit blunt. The guy who runs the firm I bought my carving axe from, Robin Wood (yes, I know!), suggested making sanding/sharpening blocks out of wood and very fine gauge sandpaper. I bought the sandpaper in Halfords ages ago, but I only got around to buying the wood to make the blocks with on Friday. So I made the sanding blocks today. Here’s the process …

Yesterday I popped into Evans art supply shop and bought a few tubes of Holbein Acryla Gouache. Just black and white. One of the properties of gouache is that, once dry, it can be reactivated very easily by water or other paint. One consequence of this is that if you paint a light colour on a dark background, the paint can mix and become muddy. Acryla gouache doesn’t reactivate.

Finally, on holiday, I started doing some sketches in a journal I keep to record the arty stuff I been doing. You’ll have noticed the lined paper on which some recent paintings have been done. I like doing this. Much of the art I’ve done over the last year is scattered randomly in my attic so doing them in the journal keeps everything in order and means I can track my progress, in painting anyway. Also, it makes the journal more interesting to review.

Here’s today’s page, with the writing ‘artfully’ blurred.

This morning, as well as thinking about beta blockers, I thought, pretty randomly, about the chef Ken Hom and wondered what had become of him. In the gym later, I happened to glance at one of the few remaining TVs and, what do you know, there he was, cooking stuff. I wrote about co-incidences recently and paying attention to them. There was the weirdest string of them at the start of last week. Too complicated to explain but ultimately, positive.

I’m off to adjust my chakras.