Just an update on this thread.
I finally bought a new road bike - note when this thread started 6 months ago. It is a New Zealand brand Avanti, Model San Remo Pro. Avanti is popular here in Australia. The bike is a triple, carbon forks, rear stay, and seat, compact design. Paid $2100 AUD with shoes, pump, on bike spares kit etc. I went for LBS with best customer service rather than chasing a cheap price. Would have been happy with a 2nd hand bike but they just weren't coming up in my size.
I did a short 20km as a first shake down ride on the new San Remo. BIGGGGG difference to the old MTB. So zippy and light on the road. Having never ridden a road bike before I was amazed how easy it was to spin along.
I found the drop bars no problem, although the arms were getting tied towards the end. As predicted there are plenty of hand positions on the drop bars so I just kept shifting places.
I am still playing with the shifting and getting use to the feel of the gearing. I had a few problems shifting between the big and the intermediate ring. For some reason I was droping through to the small ring - operator error I think! I was doing a lot of shifting just getting use to the feel of everything. The half-click trimming of the front derailers was also something new to me.
Looking forward to adding to the km's over the next few days, weeks and months.