OK, I'll try to answer those points:
I thought the 70-300 was supposed to be pretty sharp - certainly better than the pics. I am wondering if the 'follow focus' is the problem?
VR was on normal, and it is interesting you said that as I was wondering if it should have been on active - I haven't tried it on active yet. I just shot some pics of bare tree branches and it looks sharper on f8 so I'll bear that in mind for future use.
I was comparing LCD computer screen with 10x8 prints, but the 10x8's from the old Oly were very sharp. These were shot on finest jpg with no PP.
One thing I am thinking (bear in mind I am basically new to this so 'seeing' light is new to me) is the light quality was poor that day. I don't know if I can blame it on the Icelandic volcano or just high humidity but it was very hazy indeed all day. Today here is fairly similar too.
I just played with the colour and (maybe) improved one: