defsdor - I'm in a similar position, but a little further on. I too used to photo etch PCs back in the 70's & early 80's - and because I still had the UV box up in the loft, I'm still using that method for my prototypes.
I bought an Arduino last year and did some experimentation to get to know the basics and then made my 1st standalone project (complete with a few basic noob errors like no decoupling :-[) I used PCBExpress for the layout because it was easy to pick up, but the limitations soon became obvious (particularly as I needed a lot of rotated and precisely placed components).
Since then I have been redeveloping my original custom project (lighting rig for a model) into a simpler more generic device for commercial sale so I have invested the time getting to know Eagle and investigating fab houses.
I'm still hand etching single sided prototypes until I know the circuit is what I want, then I will be able to shrink it considerably onto a double sided board, but with a schematic & layout package like Eagle you are assured that any layout variations will still be functionally correct.
a couple of UK fabs I've looked at so far are http://www.quick-teck.co.ukhttp://www.tecbridgecircuits.co.uk
If anyone has any experience with either, I'd be interested to hear!