Thanks for the comments - I'm not 100% sure on which I really prefer - I'm kind of going with zig on No3 and No. 3 was a first attempt at using LR's grad tool:
Not sure if I did a good job or not but hopefully when the new display arrives I'll be able to make a better judgement on what looks more like the real scene when it was shot.
Zig - the crop is just fine... I was either going to crop or clone the branch out of the shot. The jpeg oof cam is really still really good and my only wish would have been for a wee bit more DR esp in the highlights (the sky is basically white) but LR is easily showing that there is more there.
I've got some LR training that I'm going to do when I get time and see if I can learn anything from those.. I'm hoping that theyre good enough to provide a good grounding for any RAW app.