On discovering that I wrote food articles for The Oxford Times, writer Elizabeth Gowing pressed her recently published book into my hands, suggesting I might enjoy reading it.

“If you like honey, you will love this book,” came a voice from the back of the room. How right they were.

Travels in Blood and Honey (Signal Books £12.99) is a delightful book which charts Elizabeth’s trip through Kosovo, and introduces us to the colony of bees who were to become the starting point of her fascinating journey into the art of beekeeping.

Elizabeth is a graduate of Magdalen College, who read English before gaining experience in education at the Mabel Prichard special school, in Littlemore.

Shortly afterwards her parents moved to Oxfordshire, which means Elizabeth has had an Oxfordshire connection for almost half her life.

Perhaps she would be living in the Cotswolds now if she and her partner Rob had not decided it was time for an adventure and headed for the Balkans.

Elizabeth was inspired to write this book after tasting the glorious honey sold by a bandy-legged man in the Kosovo market place whose hand-filled jars filled to the brim with a substance that bore a marked resemblance to ear wax yet tasted absolutely delicious.

The honey that was sold in the supermarkets tasted rather like a syrupy drool with none of the floral complexity she had expected.

Elizabeth soon discovered that the supermarket honey was made of glucose and honey flavouring and bore a label proclaiming the contents of its neat little jar was both homogenised and industrialised, whereas the jars in the market place contained pure honey.

Elizabeth admits that it was Flora Thompson’s book Lark Rise to Candleford with its descriptions of self-sufficiency of sweetness from the village hives, that first led her to dream of keeping bees.

Rob’s birthday gift of a wooden hive filled with a colony of Kosovan bees turned her dream into reality, offering her a role in Kosovo and a craft that was to bring her into a deeper and more meaningful contact with life in the Balkans and the village folk who taught her how to decant the rich honey her bees were to produce.

The first Kosovan honey-based dish offered to Elizabeth and Rob was fli, which is the most lavish form of hospitality a Kosovan family can provide.

Made from flour, butter, yoghurt, salt water and white cheese produced by milk from the family cow, fli is a cake created for a special guest, that takes several hours to produce due to the repeated layering and baking of the batter.

Apparently tradition decrees that you should never make fli alone as it is an outsized iconic food that makes a statement about the outsized hospitality that it represents.

When time came for Elizabeth and Rob to return to England, they found themselves returning this hospitality by distributing more than 20 kilos of their honey to friends, before heading for the airport.

The bee hive with cow dung plastering the outsides and bits of honeycomb still clinging to the inside was handed over to staff at the ethnological museum.