After a factory reset all my apps disappeared and as they were all acquired through the Play store I was frustrated by the non-connection. However, I have managed to rebuild my apps library from Amazon (who knew that I would find so many of them there) and F-Droid. I also found some .apk files using ES file explorer. One of my favourite apps has been 'pulled', but I emailed the developer and he very kindly sent me the .apk file. So I have successfully severed my need of Google play and consigned it to outer darkness.
All I need to do now is find out how to save all these .apk files to my desktop. Anyone?