I have noticed that when my laptop is idle it frequently makes clicking sounds (presumably the HD) and I was wondering if this was normal and if it in anyway is reducing the lifetime of the HD (e.g. excessive parking of the headers or something along those lines).
Also, just as a side note - would it be okay to resize my RECOVERY partition so I can install Ubuntu on it since its basically a waste of 6 GB at the moment.
Some drives do this as part of their normal operation.
If you're asking about an XP-based system, altering the partition size will render the restore useless, so you may as well delete it.
You did not state your hard drive make or model, and the other info given may or may not apply.
I had some older laptop drives and once they started make the clicking sound they would fail hard in a shrot time from then.
The Hitachi drives had this problem the most and there was a patch to correct the drives firmware that would try and keep the drive from having this clicking problem. Using your laptop service tag look at what drivers are listed for your hardware, look for a firmware update for your hard drive model. If you have changed the hard drive since purchase then you will need to look at the drivers for the drive only and not by service tag.
A clicking hard drive can be a sympton of a failing hard drive, if the drive clicks loudly something is definetally wrong - backup your data and replace the drive (hopefully under warranty). If the drive is out of warranty you can pick up a new drive from newegg. Which laptop model do you have?