Happy New Year All,
I stumbled into an error "The search application for 'SharedServices' on server [SERVERNAME] is not provisioned. Confirm that the Windows SharePoint Services Timer service and Windows SharePoint Services Administration service are running on the server" when I tried to open search settings from my SSP site.
After some little reasearch on the Internet, I came to find that most likely the config database cache was corrupt, and to resolve this, I had to clear the cache.
So here is how I went about it:
1. Central Administration > Operations > Global Configuration > Timer job definitions > Application Server Administration Service Timer Job > Disable.
2. Then open windows administrative services (services.msc), stop Windows SharePoint Services Timer (aka OWSTIMER)
3. Navigate to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\SharePoint\Config\GUID and delete only the XML files from the directory, then open the cache.ini and change the number in it to 1.
4. Start the OWSTIMER and give it a few seconds so that the new XML files from the location you deleted then are re-populated.
5. Central Administration > Operations > Global Configuration > Timer job definitions > Application Server Administration Service Timer Job > Enable.
and your search settings should now be accessible.
Thanks to Joe Rodgers for pointing me in the right direction.