www.Serif.com will give you a free download of their imaging software PhotoPlus. the latest version is on a par with other software leaders but as it's free its a good way to get to grips with the basics.
Chris, it all depends what you want to do, is it a case of cropping removing red eye, some colour boosting or is it a case of processing RAW data files, or do you want to manipulate your photos by gluing bits in from other photos to make a college or to make people thinner skin smoother etc.
Each of these requirements has a corresponding market and several companies competing in each. If you are just after simple edits try googles editor i forget what its called now, i am sure some one will help me on the name.
how did u do the sky falling photo?? its awesome i must say!!
(reading that back i sound 16 sorry but i am 30 lol)