Well, it has been a bit of a bumpy ride for no good reason. Jennifer and I have decided to move our web presence over to wordpress from plain old html/css. To be honest, none of our web pages have been updated for ages. Install WP on our new Ubuntu server ( a VM hosted at Mythic Beasts ) seemed a good and easy idea. I wanted to go with the Ubuntu apt-get install default installation as it should be tried , tested and stable especially using Unbuntu 12.04.
We could not get images uploaded and displayed. I might be the htacces file, misconfiguration in the settings, permissions. We tried a lot of things including upgrading to 14.04LTS.
Jennifer has managed to get WP to display uploaded images using symlinks, but this is not the solution. We have a few other options to try :
1) apt-get remove? wordpress, then install the latest from source from the WP site.
2) hack permalinks. It might help.
3) ask on the WP formums ( there are currently a lot of questions like this )