After much faffing about and email correspondence with various helpful people who know these things better than me it seems that all the problems I've been having learning to spin on my wheel are not solely down to me.
The wheel is missing a vital component. There's a pin that goes through the middle of the hub from top to bottom to hold the crank rod in place - only on my wheel this pin is missing. So the crank rod has been slipping in the hub and making it very hard to keep the wheel spinning round. I need to get a new pin and in the meantime I have fashioned a replacement out of a bent DPN. This is not pretty but it does the job, although the wheel is a bit clunky now. It seems that it might need a new crankrod to solve the clunkiness. Ashford (who made the wheel) tell me this so who am I to argue. Only problem is there doesn't seem to be one in this country, so it will have to be shipped from NZ. They haven't got back to me to tell me how much it's going to cost yet.
Anyway with my jerry-rigged wheel I have managed to spin a little this afternoon with a reasonable amount of success, though it is way too dark to take pictures of this.
It's definitely an evening to snuggle down with some knitting and a glass of wine, listening to the wind howling outside. The roof has already come off the local school, so I'm hoping it doesn't get much worse.