Yesterday was a bit tiresome really. Having got back from my break I was ready to get stuck into a shed-load of things that are awaiting attention, however, on booting up my system, it was shortly apparent that my HD had failed. Serves me right for shutting my system down properly I guess (normally it's just left on).
After spending a while trying all kinds of tricks to get it working again, I had to get my head around the fact it really was dead and go get another and do a full re-install of my system and a full recovery. Not great and by about 5pm, I'd more or less got back to where I needed to be - a total waste of a day.
I've since read that Maxtor DiamondPlus's (the HD in question) are apparently prone to random failure and it's certainly made me wish to avoid having them in any system I have from now on. I normally replace a HD once it starts getting the odd r/w error.