I'm finally there and thought I should add a couple of points that I stalled on, in case they help any other newbies like myself.
1/ when taking the option to reset/erase all files and settings ready for a jailbreak, the iPad will give the option to restore as a new device or from a back-up. You obviously want to restore as a new device, but you should also be aware that when this is done that you will need to connect the iPad to the PC/mac/main itunes 'host' machine and also restore it as a new device in iTunes on there.
2/ for some reason, when I reconnected the iPad to my 'iTunes host' machine immediately after the reset/erase, it was not recognised by iTunes or Windows. I had to disable my antivirus (avast) and also restart the Apple mobile device service in order for it to be recognised by itunes. I had not had to do this for the iPad to be recognised at any point prior to that. And when I restored the iPad to a backup following a successful jailbreak it was again recognised by Windows and iTunes as before.
3/ Absinthe would NOT recognise the iPad until i had restored it as a new device in itunes on my 'iTunes host machine'. Even though it was recognised in iTunes. I HAD to restore the iPad as a new device into iTunes before absinthe would register it.
It took me an hour or so to get around these little foibles, but once i had absinthe proceeded to jailbreak with no further intervention from myself. Now it's time for me to do some research on CYDIA and any backup/protection measures I should take on my freshly jailbroken iPad!