Thanks to everyone who answered, especially those that stayed on topic
Apologies for not posting this earlier (I've been offline for over a week), but for anyone still reading, here is an update:
Based upon the advice here, availability in my local market and portability requirements, I have just purchased a new 15" Macbook Pro (base model). Whilst I am grateful for the many alternative suggestions, I simply couldn't find any available locally (importing isn't an easy option either).
Owning a Mac is a new experience for me, I've never used anything but Windows (unless one counts AmigaOS and Sinclair Basic, but we won't go there! ). I plumped for the 15" model because whilst I'm away from home, I'm not really travelling around. I don't want to commit to an external monitor, but nor do I need to carry the laptop around every day. 16GB of RAM should help in future proofing too.
Thanks again to everyone!
You made a great choice. I have the MBpro ret 13" and love it for it's small size, weight, and performance.
Also, it's a tough little SOB...I set it on the roof of my car and drove off forgetting that it was up there one day a few months ago. It was turned in to the police by a little old lady who found it on the pavement at the edge of a busy intersection a mile from my home. It was protected only by a soft and thin leather case that had been terribly scratched up from smashing onto the pavement and sliding across the intersection. (I concluded that it finally fell off as I made a turn)
At the police station I turned it on and it worked like nothing had happened to it....They just work! (Sorry rusty