When accessing Search Settings in the SSP Admin it was taking around 40 seconds to a minute to access the settings page. The same was true when accesssing things like Content Sources, in other words search related stuff. Now i'm not sure whether this is related to the .Net Framework 3.5 SP1 issue I blogged about previously here:
I eventually found an article on the web that alluded to a similar problem in a .Net application where in there case the application was trying to download a certificate revocation list from Microsoft. You can read about it here http://www.dotnetscraps.com/dotnetscraps/post/ASPNET-Response-time-is-very-slow-for-the-first-request-to-application-(452b-seconds).aspx
I then realised that the account I was using to log in to my servers was not permitted access to download files from Microsoft as I was on a customer site and this was part of their security policy. Once access to the internet was negotiated for the account the Search Settings issue resolved itself. As to what exactly it was trying to download is still a mystery.