Although it depends in what ratios you will be commuting vs riding for fun. Mostly commuting - I'd probably get a cyclocross bike. Although I'd just buy two separate bikes to be honest, one cheap runaround and a decent play bike, whatever you like the look of.
I need a VW Golf MkIV bumper in one of the slightly more obscure colours - Shadow Blue (LD5Q). Is there anywhere I can order this online? Or any breakers I should contact? Am I better off getting a plain bumper and getting it repsrayed? Doesn't have to look perfect but ideally should look decent from, say, 5 yards away.
Obviously you should, or at least that's what the helmet manufacturers suggest... But my helmets have taken much harder knocks and I haven't replaced them. Stupid? Maybe. But then I get a knock like you describe a few times a year and I could never afford a new helmet each time. Replace at 5 years or visible damage is my rule.
For anyone thinking of doing something else useful, you could consider joining a bone marrow register. They take your spit and store your tissue type on a database and then if someone needs your bone marrow, you get a phone call.
I find it slightly embarrassing to say that I've got a few different lycra bits (bib shorts, bib long trousers, bib 3/4 length trousers) but anyway, the 3/4s are the ones I wear by far most often in UK weather.
They're all different brands.
The long ones are Gore, they're very nicely made
3/4s are DHB, also pretty nice (but slightly strange sizing which I knew before ordering so all was well).
100 miles a week is pretty doable. It's only 10 miles each way x 5 days. Still, it'll keep you fit and should be pretty enjoyable in this weather. There are lots of second hand road bikes on eBay, but like you say the problem is your height, and there will only be the odd one or two that would fit you. Might be easier to buy new if you can afford it - road bike prices don't seem to decrease so much second hand anyway (compared with mountain bikes/trials bikes).
For me, SPDs definitely. Probably MTB SPDs for commuting (cleats are easier to walk in). Again, lycra yes for me, but it's optional. As soon as you get over the looks, you realise it's comfier and more aerodynamic / efficient. If you commute a lot on one bike, it's worth getting mudguards and consider a rack. It just makes it a lot nicer for when the weather's not brilliant. At the moment I've taken my mudguards off, but I got caught in a massive shower last week and got soaked from road spray. Unless it's completely pouring, the road spray onto you is more significant than the rain falling from above.
Nah don't go full sus. £400 really isn't a lot and a full sus for that price will be ropey at best... Get a hardtail. Something around 17-19" will probably be OK, but there's a lot of variability in top tube lengths etc. Just go off what the manufacturer recommends (they usually have a guide related to your height) and you can't go too far wrong.
Have a look on the pinkbike classifieds and singletrackworld. If you can push your budget a bit higher it'll open a lot of doors.
Where is the best place online to get a VW OEM bumper from? It's for a mk4 golf by the way. I've found some on eBay which seem ok but I want to know how much an OEM one should be so I can compare with the quote from the vw garage...