BEACH holidays are more or less the same wherever you take them. As long as the weather is kind, you can swim, sunbathe and stroll.

There are bouncy castles and toy horses for youngsters to ride on and they can eat lots of hideously sugary sweets.

But when you’re enjoying sun sand and sea in somewhere like Poland, it adds an extra dimension to the holiday.

The Baltic coast may seem like an odd choice for a beach holiday, but the temperatures here have nudged 30 degrees and the beach bars have stayed inviting, despite the odd thunderstorm.

Another attraction of this area is the wealth of history. We stayed on the Eastern fringe of Gdansk in a resort called Sopot.

Gdansk itself boasts medieval squares and handsome merchant’s houses and is far away from the grey Stalinist city many remember from the days of the Solidarity uprising in the early 1980s.

Stalin once said making Communist rule in Poland work was like fitting a saddle to a cow.

A visit to the Lenin shipyard here is a reminder why. It was here that the death knell of Soviet rule was sounded with strikes in 1980. A tour around the yards, including Lech Walesa’s old workshop, is also a reminder of these workers’ bravery in standing up to their totalitarian rulers.

More than 20 years after the collapse of Communism in Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe, much has changed. Not least, Poland is now a member of the EU, and notwithstanding the current slump, is prospering.

A growing middle class has the money and time to holiday, and where better to do it than at the seaside?

The northern town of Leba testifies to this. A kind of Baltic Blackpool, very few buildings here are older than 20 years and most of the new additions are devoted to serving holiday delights to Polish families who flock here in August.

And this place, with its candy floss, bouncy castles and fish stalls is one of their rewards, because it is they who are in the saddle now.