I'll have a look tomorrow at all this - thanks. meanwhile, I note that when I start towards a reinstall of Windows 7 from the original disc (but stopping short of actually reinstalling!) I see that all my partition letters are completely rearranged - Windows was on C:\ of course, now according to the list of partitions shown before you decide to reinstall, it is on G:\ - I don't remember if that is normal when you are running the system from the Windows installation disc - or is that a possible source of my problems? No boot.ini file in Windows 7 so I am lost.
Part of the difficulty is that I knew XP like the back of my hand (well, pretty much) but I haven't found my way around 'under the bonnet' of Windows 7 yet. There seems to be no option to repair the Windows installtion indeed, here it states "You can only do a repair install from within Windows 7, you cannot do a repair install at boot or in Safe Mode
.": Repair Install
My data, like My Documents was on a different partition and everything else was pretty much backed up, but of course I am going to lose all my installed programmes (took me 3 weeks to set them up, what with games etc.) if I have to delete Windows and start again. I did back up the Windows (C) drive with DriveXML about a week ago - but I never tested restoring the boot partition before..