Wow, Thanks all for the wonderful advise. I will ask the man next door about the soil, he is a keen gardening and should know what we have.
I am intending to get beds dug and sorted over the next few weeks and I am doing a lot of "just looking" to see if inspiration strikes. I would like to encorporate some veg along with my other planting but may keep that to pots, tubs etc on the patio. We basically want the garden to be a bit of a refuge, someone to chill out with a glass of wine and read a book. We have no kids so only have ourselves and my elderly dog to consider.
Once again thanks for all the good advise, all food for thought and I have no doubt I shall be back for more.
My own observations/thoughts.
A garden plan is always a 'work in progress'. Nothing ever finalised. Always something that requires improvement. Or something that didn't quite 'work' (it looked good on paper, but...)
The big key elements (long-term trees.shrubs, hard landscaping) are the 'bones'. concentrate thought on those. The more space you have in a garden, the less important the individual placements become (minor faults fade into the background).