@jordan Hey, thanks for getting back to me...
Yes the update box comes up and shows today's date.
Nothing happens though... I can leave it in that state for more than a day with no change whatsoever... I'm on 100Mbit/s at home and much more than that at work where I also tried.
I think I've cracked it though (well at least my particular problem)... I looked through the code and could see a git.exc.GitCommandError exception triggering... I figured some update had not completed properly on a previous occasion and left some git locks in place, preventing further update... I just did:
rm -f /home/pi/piper/.git/ORIG_HEAD.lock
And then the update worked fine... My kid is only allowed to play at week ends, but I expect he'll be delighted and will be on his best behaviour all week.